The past year has brought natural unprecedented disasters to Florida and the Bahamas. In 2019, the Leesfield Family Foundation responded to assistance to victims of Hurricane Dorian.
Historically, The Foundation has taken an active role in alleviating the hardship and displacement of thousands of Americans who have suffered unpredictable life challenges.
The Foundation immediately responded to the needs of the Bahamas through World Central Kitchen, as the organization prepared to feed and assist the victims of category 5 hurricane. This is consistent with past efforts to alleviate suffering and displaced victims of natural and man-made disasters throughout the United States and the world.
Past efforts include:
- Greater Houston Community Foundation
- Hispanic Federation (UNIDOS Disaster Relief and Recovery Program in support of Puerto Rico)
- OneOrlando Fund (helping families of shooting victims)
- Louisiana Association of United Ways (flood victims)
- Americans for Immigrant Justice (to protect injustice for the undocumented)
- California Fire Foundation
- Dallas Foundation – Line of Duty Fund
- American Red Cross – Tennessee wildfires
“Oftentimes, our help was first on the scene because of the streamline nature of our Foundation,” says Jennifer Leesfield, Trustee.
Our rapid response to the Bahamian disaster put us on the ground at the very earliest opportunity with food, water and life saving material. Founder Ira Leesfield is now working to organize fund raising efforts for World Central Kitchen.
2019 has brought a year marked with an expansion of our community giving to women and children’s support efforts by continuing our long term involvement as well as adding new members to the Foundation’s families in need.
Our newest recipients are Live Like Bella, an organization which offers emotional and financial support to families affected by childhood cancer, and Read to Learn Books for Free Program (Miami-Dade College Foundation) which provides free books to children in under-resourced neighborhoods. These organizations have expressed their appreciation for new support as stated by:
Daniel Leyte-Vidal, Manager of Advocacy, Public Policy
“The Live Like Bella® Childhood Cancer Foundation is so grateful to the Leesfield Family Foundation for its commitment to our mission. Thanks to generous partners like you, we have never had to turn a family away and are able to serve children battling cancer in all 50 states and 23 countries around the world. We are committed to being a recognized leader in childhood cancer research and advocacy while providing financial and emotional support to families whose children are battling cancer. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for joining us in this fight!”
“Thank you to the Leesfield Family Foundation for sponsoring our Read to Learn for Free Program. This will help us buy books for underserved children throughout Miami-Dade County,” Annalisa Damley, Donor Relations
We are fortunate and proud to continue our 25-year community initiative for the protection and betterment of women, children and families with renewed support to:
- Americans for Immigrant Justice – To protect and promote rights of immigrants
- Amigos for Kids – Prevention of child abuse and neglect
- Big Brothers Big Sisters Miami – Mentoring the youth for better education
- Children’s Home Society – Child abuse protection
- Fatherhood Task Force of South Florida – Advocates father involvement in children’s lives
- Jewish Museum of Florida – Preservation of Jewish culture, history and arts
- Kristi House – Eradicating child abuse and child six trafficking
- Lawyers for Children America – Child advocacy protecting rights of children who are abused and neglected
- The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment – Prevention and assistance to victims.
- Overtown Youth Center – Programs and initiatives to empower the youth through diverse resources
- Voices for Children Foundation, Inc. – Provides court appointed advocates to ensure safe and permanent homes for children.
- YES Institute – Provides dialogue and education on gender orientation
The Foundation has worked closely with Americans for Immigrant Justice as a Gold Sponsor, heavily supporting each event for the overall efforts to secure fairness and justice to American immigrants. “While our work is more challenging than ever, it is clearly more important than ever and the Leesfield Family Foundation’s support enables us to continue working tirelessly to defend immigrants’ basic rights. We are confident that you will serve as an inspiration to others who share our commitment to ensuring justice for all. With appreciation for your gift. . .” Cheryl Little, Executive Director
Similarly, Holly Zwerling, President and CEO of Fatherhood Task Force of South Florida, comments “The Fatherhood Task Force of South Florida congratulates the Leesfield Family Foundation and its Chair, Ira Leesfield as a leader in promoting and supporting schools and communities across Florida and for encouraging the participation of fathers and father figures in support of children’s education and demonstrating civic and social responsibility.” Ira Leesfield has been recognized by the Fatherhood Task Force with the “Citation of Honor Award”, and in 2018 with the “Visionary Leader Award.”
The Foundation’s recent commitments to Lawyers for Children America has been recognized by Carolyn Salisbury, Director of Lawyers for Children America, “Ira Leesfield is an attorney of the highest caliber who is committed to equal justice for children and other defenseless populations,’’ He partners with so many organizations in our community to ensure the protection of our most vulnerable citizens, following the tradition of the work of Janet Reno. In our 20th anniversary year in Miami, Lawyers for Children America is proud to present him with our 2018 Janet Reno Outstanding Community Partner Award in honor of the memory of our organization’s co-founder.”
Foundation Chair, Ira Leesfield, continues to serve as an honorary board member of The Melissa Institute, and maintains an active role in the Lotus House/Sundari Foundation which has now completed the construction of its campus with Leesfield Family Foundation assistance.
The Foundation’s recognition of Scholarship/Educational needs continued with its 30th Leesfield/AAJ Law Student Scholarship presented this past summer during the American Association for Justice Annual Convention (AAJ) held in San Diego. Leesfield Scholars from diverse law schools and locations have expressed their appreciation and support for the civil justice advocacy roles shared by the Foundation and AAJ. Some of the law schools represented are:
- University of Florida Levin College of Law
- Duke University School of Law
- University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
- William & Mary Law School
- Temple University Beasley School of Law
- Suffolk University Law School
- Loyola University Law School
- Berkeley Law-University of California
- Stanford Law School
- University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Alejandra Escobar, 2019 recipient from the University of Illinois The John Marshall Law School says, “I want to thank you one more time for your generosity in awarding me this year’s scholarship. The work you do for the community, and for budding attorneys like myself is truly invaluable and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
The scholarship program is not limited to law school scholars, but rather has also recognized community and national leaders such as Thomas H. Henderson, Jr., Daniel S. Pearson and Eileen G. Breier. Trustee Leesfield also had the honor of serving with Florence Griffith Joyner “Flo Jo” on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness in 1993, and established a scholarship in her name.
The Leesfield Family Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, accepting grants from other charitable and community organizations consistent with its goals.
For further information, please contact: