The Gift of Giving: Alina Villasante and Jarett Levan
Amid a pandemic era unlike any we’ve faced, local leaders—such as Alina Villasante and Jarett Levan—ave dedicated time and effort to make a world of difference in countless lives throughout South Florida
Backstory: A benevolent spirit has been “sewn into the soul” of the Miami-based lifestyle/fashion company since Villasante introduced it in 2009. She champions causes close to her heart, including breast cancer awareness and autism. Proceeds from sales of its Hope Crew Neck Sweater this year benefited Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami. Peace Love World staff also travels to Haiti to support a shelter that houses disabled and abandoned children.
Pandemic relief: For every item purchased in its kids collections, Peace Love World donated to foundations that provide care for vulnerable children—including Jackson Health Foundation, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Baptist Health, Lotus House and Camillus House. All told, the company donated 9,125 units valued at $350,000.
Snapshots: “Being surrounded by people affected by the loss of jobs and loved ones, I realized how precious life is and that we are all human beings with the same purpose. It’s the human desire and inner pull we all feel for peace, love and happiness—and the dignity and importance of human life. I believe this today more than ever, and I don’t take one moment of life or anything in it for granted.”
Pandemic lessons: “I recognized what a fast-paced life I was living. I also realized I wanted to spend more time where I felt most loved and where I was giving love. Each day matters, and because of the uncertainty of the future, you have to live in the present and be satisfied with what you have while building what you want.”
Photo by James Woodley
CEO and President, BBX Capital; CEO, BBX Sweet Holdings
Backstory: In addition to his chief executive roles at the diversified holding company (with principal investments including BBX Capital Real Estate and BBX Sweet Holdings, which features the national brands It’Sugar and Hoffman’s Chocolates), Levan and his wife, Dara, are renowned philanthropists. Levan serves on the boards of the Broward Performing Arts Foundation and Broward College Foundation.
Pandemic relief: The BBX Capital Foundation, partnering with Artisan Catering and Lime Mexican Grill, provided lunch and dinner to hospitals throughout Broward, not to mention chocolate and ice cream to some 1,400 essential workers. The foundation also provided much-needed support to Feeding South Florida and Habitat for Humanity. “Now more than ever, with COVID affecting so many in our community, BBX Capital and our family of companies are committed to helping those in need and those putting their lives on the line each and every day,” he says.
Snapshots: “Our educational systems were not built for full-time virtual delivery. When COVID forced an immediate transition to virtual schooling for K-12 and secondary education, our local teachers, administrators and leadership stepped up to fulfill their promise to our children—educate, no matter what stands in their way. I remain impressed with this transition to a new way of educating our students.”
Pandemic lessons: “We can find silver linings in every situation and the impact of COVID is no exception. The opportunity to be home with my wife and teenage kids, and especially spend time with my son before he left for college, was time I had not planned for at the beginning of 2020.”
Pictured: Jarett Levan with his wife, Dara