The importance of good works.
When I assigned writers to introduce you to the community angels who appear in this issue, little did I realize that one of these storytellers could have been a profile herself.
Kristen Manieri, a familiar byline to readers of this magazine, crafted the pieces on Alejandro Musa, who volunteers with a skateboarding program to help at-risk kids, and Noelle Moore, who organized a program to help bereaved mothers after she lost her baby girl.
For seven years, Kristen has run the online Orlando Date Night Guide, steering couples to the best bets on local entertainment and dining. And now she has created an activity that allows those couples to give back to the community—and have loads of fun doing it.
Do Good Date Night launched in September and was a resounding success. Here’s how it works: Kristen’s group pairs with a nonprofit seeking volunteers and stages a Saturday night event every other month. Each couple pays $25-$35 and spends the first hour doing volunteer work. During the second hour, they enjoy socializing—and a catered meal paid for by the cost of the ticket. Enter another community angel: Dr. Clifford Clark of Orlando Aesthetic Institute matches the ticket revenue and writes a check for that amount to the nonprofit.
The inaugural event, which took place September 26, drew 40 couples to Feeding Children Everywhere, a Longwood-based nonprofit that has provided more than 30 million meals to youngsters across the globe in its five years of existence. In assembly-line fashion, participants put together more than 9,500 meal packages, which featured easy-to-prepare items like dehydrated vegetables, rice and lentils. Then they enjoyed a dinner catered by Swine & Sons and Cask & Larder. Dr. Clark, meanwhile, contributed $1,400 to the nonprofit, and another $300 was raised through raffles. The $1,700 paid for another 12,000 food packages.
And what do the couples think? Well, the second event, to be held at Second Harvest Food Bank this month, sold out almost immediately. Kristen says she’s considering increasing the frequency of Do Good Date Night to make it a regular monthly event.
“I think people want to do something good and they love getting to meet other like-minded couples,’’ she says, noting that the great majority of participants were married couples. “We tell you where to go, when and what. You just show up and give an hour. Who doesn’t have an hour?’’
For more information about a date to remember (and to buy tickets if you’re lucky), go to DoGoodDateNight.com
Check out Kristen’s stories of community angels, as well as profiles of others by writers Cheri Henderson, Michael McLeod and Loraine O’Connell. Elsewhere in this issue, Megan Padilla tells the story of a legendary herd of Arabian horses that ended up calling Central Florida home; Laura Anders Lee looks at the science behind roller coasters, Joseph Hayes reviews the magnificent MOOR restaurant at Gaylord Palms Resort; and Greg Dawson talks to high school students and parents on the fundraising front lines—outside Publix.