Ariel Penzer Milgroom is a local Miami philanthropist. As Vice President of her family’s foundation, The Penzer Foundation, Ariel supports many charities such as Vizcaya Museum, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Angel Watching Over Me, YoungArts, The Bass Museum, Chapman Homeless Shelter, Fairchild Gardens, American Cancer Society, Miami Women Who Rock, and more. As well as donating and attending events, Ariel takes a hands on approach, participating in volunteer efforts, board meetings and committees. Ariel comes from generations of philanthropy in New York, having assisted her family in the fight against NYCHA, fighting for millions of public housing tenants of New York City to have heat, hot water, and general safe living conditions. Ariel attended rallies with Governor Cuomo as well as state representatives to fight for the people. Ariel is known around Miami to be the most over the top creative dresser at all the local events, and always in theme.
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Miami social season is in full swing! In Miami, the best social events combine philanthropy and fashion. This is your chance to give back to amazing causes, look fabulous, and meet the best people Miami has to offer. The best way to meet and network at these events is to pick a charity that speaks to you. Depending on your style, you may want to consider an art event, supporting our beautiful gardens, empowering the youth, children’s health, humanitarian efforts, the ballet or the opera.
If you are into art, you may consider an event like The YoungArts Backyard Ball sponsored by Harry Winston January 11th, which hosts performances by their incredibly talented alumni including dancing, singing, poetry and more. It is an event that thrills the senses! The Bass Ball, sponsored by Alexander McQueen, is happening February 29th and is always incredible. Their art is whimsical and fun, and the crowd plays along with that vibe donning whimsical over the top gowns topped with crazy headpieces. Miami is one of the art capitals of the world and we have the crowds to prove it. The people that you encounter at these events are some of the top art patrons and collectors of the world as well as art fans. Creativity is key! Last year I wore a hand painted gown to YoungArts and my friend wore an old bridesmaid gown that she sewed dozens of stuffed animals on to for the Bass Ball and it was an absolute hit!
One of the things that makes Miami unique as a city is the year round fabulous gardens to support! Vizcaya is Miami’s absolute gem, and their gala is one of Miami’s most elegant evenings, this year it is sponsored by Gucci with a Rock your Rococo theme, happening on November 23rd. If the Vizcaya Gala lives up to last year's (which it will) you can expect wild performances and over the top decor to match the property’s over the top elegance. The Fairchild Garden is beautiful during the day for their annual luncheon with an amazing Neiman Marcus fashion show that Ken Downing has styled every year. With Ken leaving Neiman Marcus, Fairchild’s Francis and Swanee are promising a special surprise guest this year.
One of Miami’s top charities is Women of Tomorrow. The Women of Tomorrow mission is to inspire, motivate and empower at-risk young women to live up to their full potential through a unique group mentoring program with highly accomplished professional women and scholarship opportunities. Their very exclusive Rosè day luncheon at Cecconi’s is one of the most sought after invitations of the season and extremely limited. This year the luncheon is sponsored by Valentino and all the ladies wear shades of rosè, if you’re lucky enough to score an invitation.
Another mentorship program that is popular in Miami, with an incredible mission is Big Brothers Big Sisters. They host a really fun Bollywood extravaganza on February 8 to support their scholarship fund. They go all out with the theme, with everyone dancing the night away to Bollywood tunes decked out in gorgeous Bollywood inspired outfits. They even serve Indian cuisine, which really sets the tone.
For the more serious and humanitarian minded, you can’t go wrong with supporting the local hospitals and homeless shelters. While a bit more serious, these events can be elegant and a great way to meet people with big hearts. One of the top galas in this category is the Jackson Health Golden Angels Gala on February 7, which promises to be an evening of elegance while raising important funds for the hospital. To support the Homeless, one of Miami’s biggest endeavors, Dec 7 is the 20th Annual Hope for All Gala hosted by Camillus House, and Feb 8 is the 25th Anniversary Silver Lining Gala hosted by Kristi House.
For those with young children, the hot event for the cool young moms crowd is the Dec 15 Nutcracker Magic Children’s Soirée hosted by Miami City Ballet. There is also Miami Children’s Museum’s Be A Kid Again Gala and After-Party on February 29th.
Of course there are other ways to get involved if you don’t want to attend a cocktail party or gala. Consider hands on volunteer efforts like Little Lighthouse crafts nights the 1st and 4th Thursday of the Month, which you can sign up to do on their website. With the holidays coming up, there are plenty of volunteer efforts for Thanksgiving, and toy drives for Christmas, for example the Angel Watching Over Me Thanksgiving drive where the organization feeds over 200 families every year. Sign up on awom.org ! If you’re an athletic type, consider running a 5k to raise money for the charity of your choice, like the Miami Turkey Trot. There are plenty of different ways to get hands on with the charity of your choice, just research local charities that may appeal to you!
No matter what your scene is, the Miami philanthropy calendar has an event to cater to your crowd and interests. Confidence and creativity will help you shine, you don’t always have to be dressed in head to toe designer. This is a great way to meet likeminded people, find new friends and even business contacts. I’ve heard people say Miami is a difficult place to meet quality people, but I find it all depends on where you are looking. At the charity events, the intentions are great, we are there to raise funds for important local charities. In this regard, you are going to most likely meet people with the same interests as you, while also giving back to the community.