We caught up with The Little Lighthouse Foundation's executive director, Jonathan Babicka, for an exclusive insight on the foundation's history, future, and genuine impact on the community.
What are the foundations initiatives?
Founded in 2010, the Little Lighthouse Foundation (LLF) is nonprofit organization, that assists underserved children and their families throughout South Florida. LLF has over 20 proprietary programs with 33 partner facilities, including, homeless shelters, hospitals, and youth centers. To name a few, LLF’s programs include Adopt a Meal at Ronald McDonald House, Activity Hour, Story Hour and Move & Groove at Chapman Partnership, and Craft Night and Beauty All Around at Lotus House. LLF holds annual Specialty Programs which serve thousands of children and families at a time and bring together hundreds of volunteers. These include LLF’s Holiday Toy & Meal Distribution, Back to School, Christmas in July, BirthDay of Service and Children’s Halloween Party and, among others. Last year, LLF received the Jan Pfeiffer Distinguished Service Award at the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce 97th Annual Gala as well as the Key to the City from the City of Miami Beach for its volunteer efforts. Although our biggest fundraiser, Hearts & Stars Gala has been postponed to Fall 2021, we were still able to make a significant impact during the pandemic. LLF launched Do Good Feel Good Live and has held over 230 virtual programs since March 30th. We also launched our 1 Mask 1 World program in partnership with World Red Eye Cares donating approximately 20,000 masks to our partner facilities, children and families in our community, local hospitals, police and fire departments, foster care facilities, and elderly homes (all the masks are made in Miami by a network of seamstresses and designers who have pivoted their businesses to become mask makers). We were also able to hold a successful Back to School distribution, where we impacted 2,000 underserved students and Holiday & Meal Distribution, where we impacted over 2,700 underserved children! We kicked off 2021, with our first virtual specialty program, LLF’s BirthDay of Fitness, where children and families from seven of our partner facilities and our supporters from home tuned in for a live Barry’s workout. Lastly, we created a new weekly in-person volunteer program in partnership with Global Empowerment Mission to assemble #BStrong Family Necessities Kits, which are distributed as part of GEM's disaster relief initiative. We, also, reactivated two weekly in-person volunteer programs, Fit Club at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami and Craft Night at Lotus House Women’s Shelter.
What inspired you to get involved in the foundation?
LLF’s Board of Directors and Co-Founders, Rob Sena, Aaron Resnick and Charlie Venturi founded LLF in January 2010. I was their first donor, one of their first volunteers and recipient of the prestigious Shining Light Award a Hearts and Stars Gala 2012. I was very familiar with the incredible foundation that they established and lead before I took on the role as Executive Director. What inspired me to get involved was giving back to kids in need. I really enjoy the time I spend with children. It fills my heart. Bringing the community together through volunteerism is another top reason. I was so impressed by how engaged LLF volunteers were back then and they continue to impress me every day.
What is the most rewarding part about what you do?
Bringing the community together. The kids are our primary focus and in the process of impacting their lives we have the opportunity to create relationships with the incredible do-gooders of Miami and beyond.
What is your favorite program or event?
I love our Do Good Feel Good Live virtual programs. We have had so many incredible guests including DJ Khaled, Alonzo Mourning, R&B Singer MARIO, Olympic Gold Medalist Monica Puig, Udonis Haslem, 6x Emmy Award Winning Newscaster Laurie Jennings, Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools Alberto Carvalho, Mayor of Miami Beach Dan Gelber, and so many more! My top 2 in-person programs: LLF's Fit Club with Big Brothers Big Sisters where top trainers, fitness experts and yogis instruct the kids at Big Brothers Big Sisters every Tuesday from 4-5 PM as volunteers follow along with the workout alongside the students. LLF x Global Empowerment Mission - LLF volunteers assemble #BStrong Family Necessities Kits which are distributed as part of GEM's disaster relief initiative. Volunteers come on Fridays from 12-2 PM at GEM's warehouse, located at 1810 NW 94th Ave, Doral, FL 33172, to sort supplies and pack up GEM's #BStrong Family Necessities Kits, designed to provide a family of five the basic necessities to survive: food, hygiene, and COVID-19 protective gear.
What is in store for LLF in the future, or any upcoming projects/events?
We are very progressive and are always creating innovative programs and events. The 11th Annual Hearts & Stars Gala Weekend will take place in November 2021 Holiday Toy & Meal Distribution will take place in December 2021 LLF’s Birthday Party LLF’s Birthday of Service 12th Annual Hearts & Stars Gala Weekend will take place in March 2022 Christmas in July at the new Miami Dolphins Training Facility in July 2020 and Back to School will take place in August 2022
How can the community get involved and support LLF?
To learn how you can #DoGoodFeelGood with LLF, visit www.TheLittleLighthouse.org or follow LLF on Instagram @LLFoundation.