The Gift of Giving: Scott Harris, Cathy Donnelly and Rachel Sapoznik
Amid a pandemic era unlike any we’ve faced, local leaders—such as Scott Harris, Cathy Donnelly and Rachel Sapoznik—have dedicated time and effort to make a world of difference in countless lives throughout South Florida
Backstory: Since launching it as a boutique meal delivery service in 2011, Harris has overseen the exponential growth of DeliverLean into a food manufacturing giant with more than 300 employees. The company’s emphasis on nutrition-rich, high-quality meals for consumers extends to the health care community and its patients through DeliverLean CARE, an initiative in conjunction with Humana and CarePlus Health Plans.
Pandemic relief: At the onset of COVID-19, the company launched the DeliverLean Foundation in an effort to help families in need. In addition to collecting nonperishables through a tri-county food drive initiative, DeliverLean donated more than 300,000 meals with partners including NBA Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning’s Overtown Youth Center, the Miami Marlins and Inter Miami CF Soccer Team. “We also spearheaded DeliverLean’s effort to provide hundreds of thousands of meals to homebound seniors in coordination with Miami-Dade County,” Harris says.
Snapshots: “Seeing families and individuals struggle when I have the ability to help sparked a fire inside me. Seeing my friends who work at Mount Sinai was also inspiring, and still is. They’re putting their lives on the line to help each one of us; by feeding them, I know we’re fueling them to help the community.”
Pandemic lessons: “Food is one of the everyday items that people tend to struggle with during [the pandemic]. I knew we had to help the community. During our food distributions and senior drop-offs, I saw the joy, and, most importantly, the relief that we brought to hundreds of thousands of people.”
Backstory: Donnelly, honored last spring by the United Way of Broward County as its Woman of Inspiration at the annual Women United Magnolia Luncheon, launched CastleCares, the philanthropic branch of the property management company, in 2010. Its ongoing mission is to serve children and families in need in South Florida and beyond. Donnelly is currently chair for the Children’s Services Council of Broward.
Pandemic relief: CastleCares directed funds where they were most needed during the pandemic. Early on, organizations such as Miami Jewish Health Foundation received dollars that went toward personal protective equipment for hospital and assisted living facility workers. Later, CastleCares launched free lunch deliveries for health care employees and first responders. “With the holidays coming, our annual support of our Fort Lauderdale Black Police Officers Association is more important to us than ever, along with our annual Toy Drive supporting Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the state,” she says.
Snapshots: “Our amazing Castle Family team members have gone into [neighborhoods] each day donning PPE and using all of their leadership skills to keep our communities running smoothly, with safety always [top] of mind.”
Pandemic lessons: “One, your health is everything, and it’s your responsibility. We can’t help others if we are ill ourselves. Masks help to save lives. Two, we all value security, and in uncertain times we need to stand up and lead by example to calm others who are fearful and need the extra support.”
Cathy Donnelly with husband James, founder and CEO of Castle Group
Backstory: The founder of the largest independently owned employee benefits agency in South Florida long has been known for her philanthropic efforts. Over the past few years alone, Sapoznik Insurance has single-handedly raised a combined $250,000 for nonprofits including Jackson Health Foundation and JAFCO.
Pandemic relief: The burdens that COVID-19 placed on local communities prompted the insurance company to launch the Sapoznik Cares campaign. The initiative resulted in more than 500 meals delivered to organizations like ARC Broward and Overtown Youth Center. Collectively, the campaign donated more than $75,000, 500 pounds of food—and (in partnership with The Education Fund) $350,000 in supplies to a variety of nonprofits, among them PACE Center for Girls, Survivors Pathway, Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services and Kristi House.
Snapshots: “The pandemic helped parents to finally appreciate how hard our educators work. It breaks my heart that most of our public-school teachers do not have the resources to stock their classrooms properly, and that many students don’t have access to the tools they need to ensure success. As a public-school graduate, I empathize with our students and teachers. That’s why The Education Fund is so incredibly important to me.”
Pandemic lessons: “It’s not enough to simply give back when your business is thriving. It’s about when your community needs you most. COVID-19 impacted so many people and businesses; as an active citizen, it’s my duty to lead by example and to help those that need more than I do.”