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Living Through Giving: Daren Koenig Cronin

Local philanthropists share the life lessons that guide their charitable work.

Daren Koenig Cronin gets her philanthropic inspiration from what she calls her two families, both of which she was born into – one is her traditional family and the other is her City Furniture family. “The two families overlap quite a lot, by the way. Being constantly impressed by those around you is quite humbling,” she says, adding that it inspires her to “work harder, achieve more, and help others to succeed.”

Daren’s uncle, Kevin Koenig, opened the first Waterbed City in 1971 with $1,500 in his pocket, making waterbeds himself at night and selling them during the day. His business grew and so did a partnership with his younger brother, Keith. In 1994, Waterbed City evolved into City Furniture, which now counts 20 City Furniture showrooms, 14 Ashley Furniture showrooms and annual sales in 2022 of more than $760 million.

In 1978, Keith married Doreen Gail Sindicich, who shared her husband’s mindset for giving. “My mom used to say that ‘we don’t give because we’re blessed, we’re blessed because we give,’” she says.

Lifetime Commitment: Daren, who received her undergraduate degree from her father’s college alma mater, University of Florida, and then went on to get her MBA from Nova Southeastern University, served many roles at the store including starting the Design Studio at City Furniture, which is the dedicated interior design arm of the business.

When her mother passed away in 2015 at the age of 62, after a more than two-year battle with breast cancer, Daren stepped into the role that Doreen had filled for so long – the company’s focus on philanthropic giving.

“My mother had been encouraging me to get involved and I had been involved in a lot of different ways,” she says. But when her mother died, she remembers her father saying to her, “I can’t handle this and run a business. You know, that’s what your mom did for me and for City Furniture.”

Jack and Jill Center: Daren remembers her first introduction to what remains a “forever” organization for the family and its business – Jack and Jill Center, which provides support and education for children and families in need in Broward County.

“It’s one that always rings big in my heart. I’ve been involved with Jack and Jill since I was 14 and I’m 42 now. It’s the first charity where I volunteered my time; I got very emotionally involved.”

She’s on the board of Jack and Jill Center and the Madelaine Halmos Academy, a private elementary school, that opened in 2021 as an extension of Jack and Jill’s Early Education Center.

(https://jackandjillcenter.org/)

Daren also serves on the boards of the Covenant House, the Humane Society of Broward County, the Museum of Discovery and Science, the American Cancer Society and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, the American Heart Association and the Heart Walk, the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale and supports the Broward Children’s Center, Honor Flight South Florida, Kids in Distress, and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts Center.

Words to Live By: “My father, who is a fair, intelligent and focused leader, has taught me to live by the saying that ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’”

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