Celebrate the role women play in our lives and in our community

Women are a special gift to mankind. I learned this very early in life, growing up in a small coastal Cuban town of Sagua la Grande – although there wasn’t much great about the town except the women. Especially those in my family.

After school, my afternoons were spent in a salón de costura (sewing salon), where my aunts, Tia Tata and Tia Nina, and at times my mother, Chiquitica, worked. There, amidst the humming sounds of Singer sewing machines, I would do my homework. I looked up to these women. They were amazing – working, keeping the house running, and somehow ensuring everyone was fed.

Tia Tata was the family’s matriarch and my personal hero. Widowed at a young age, she not only raised two daughters, Maru and Nela, but made sure all the kids in the family stayed in line. She ruled with love and an iron fist. When she passed, the matriarch's mantle moved to her oldest, Maru. After Maru passed, the family torch defaulted to me, and I found myself turning to Alina, my cousin in Puerto Rico, for counsel.

I tell you all this to set the stage for our National Women’s History Month offerings – and acknowledge the role women play in all our lives.

Women truly make Key Biscayne an Island Paradise.

The original 1987 Key Biscayne Council – also key players in the Village’s incorporation – included two women, Betty Conroy Sime and Helen White (RIP). Relentless advocates, they took a back seat to no one.

Each day, I see or hear about exceptional work being done by the island’s women in business and as community leaders. I am especially impressed by their philanthropic heart.

Michele Estevez, my friend and an amazing woman herself, calls it the island’s humanitarian spirit. Michele lives by the mantra: She is involved!

The Key Biscayne Women’s Giving Circle and the Key Biscayne Women’s Club, groups devoted to helping improve lives.

There is Amy Easton, a tireless fundraiser and humanitarian. The new St. Agnes Easton Educational building is living proof of her dedication.

And then there are Ivette Fernandez-Chaustre, Laudy Ibarra and Susana Gadala, who highlight what is good and kind about our community through KITS (Kindness in School).

Thinking back to the start of the pandemic in early 2020, we were all concerned about protecting vulnerable seniors. Leading the way in ensuring their physical and mental health care was Melissa White, executive director of Key Biscayne Community Foundation.

The Foundation support nonprofits dedicated to improving the lives of people in Key Biscayne. Melissa, a wireless leader, uses compassion and a laser focus to ensure the Foundation does exactly this.

We hope you enjoyed our cover story in the March 10 issue -- The Power of Women on Key Biscayne – featuring women who represent success in business and philanthropy. We know there are other women who also exemplify the best of our citizenry.

To all Key women who make our community great, we say THANK YOU!

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