Acts of selflessness and kindness often go unrecognized and are forgotten in the busy shuffle of daily life. However, every year Councilwoman Judy Waldman makes it her mission to recognize and honor those Homestead residents who performed an act of kindness so their example can inspire others to do the same. At a special presentation during the September City Council meeting, Councilwoman Waldman presented three winners of this year’s Kindness Awards, each of them with a unique story of kindness.
“The Kindness Awards are very dear to me. The people receiving them responded to another with compassion and no expectations of anything in return,” said Councilwoman Waldman, who founded the Kindness Awards in 2002 during the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew. “People have no idea what an impact their kindness had during the devastation of Hurricane Andrew. I usually pick one time a year for my Kindness Awards, but since I lost the chance to honor my friend, Bennie Butler, due to her unexpected death, I no longer wait to give this recognition. We honor those who have paid it forward, and Homestead thanks you and hopes that your kindness travels onward to another and another.”
The recipients of this year’s Kindness Awards were Jimmy Lipps, Aaron Pearce and Adrienne Griffitts. Aaron Pearce is a police officer in the City of Homestead and an avid dog lover. In one instance, Councilwoman Waldman witnessed his kindness when he rescued an abandoned dog in her neighborhood. “Officer Pearce shared his water and stayed with the poor scared pup until he could be taken to the Broward Animal Center,” said Councilwoman Waldman as she gave him the Kindness Award medal during the presentation.
Olive Garden Manager Jimmy Lipps was also recognized for the kindness he has shown on multiple occasions to the Homestead community. Mr. Lipps has repeatedly assisted charities and non-profit events by donating meals from Homestead’s Olive Garden. His support of the Fraternal Order of Police, Start Off Smart (SOS) and Lauren’s Kids has really made a difference in the lives of many.
Another act of kindness recognized that made a difference to hundreds of people, was the help that Mrs. Adrienne Griffitts of Homestead Transfer and Storage offered to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Last year when Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast, it sparked memories in Councilwoman Waldman of what Homestead went through in 1992 with Hurricane Andrew. As soon as Councilwoman Waldman learned about the destruction that Hurricane Sandy had caused in the Northeast, she hurried to find ways in which Homestead could help the victims of the tragedy. In only ten days, with the help of volunteers and donations from hundreds of Homestead residents, Councilwoman Waldman was able to fill a large truck donated by Mrs. Griffitts with the support of Homestead Transfer and Storage and northAmerican Van Lines.
“We couldn’t have done it without the help of Adrienne. It only took one call and this angel already had a 53-foot truck and a driver to deliver the donations to hundreds of families in the Northeast who were desperate for supplies,” said Councilwoman Waldman. “The Hurricane Sandy Relief Drive was made possible thanks to the Homestead community coming together and acting rapidly to provide much needed help.”
A survivor of Hurricane Andrew herself, Councilwoman Waldman knows the importance of offering help to those who have lost everything in a tragedy. Over twenty years ago, the City of Homestead experienced devastation as Hurricane Andrew swept through hundreds of homes and businesses on August 24, 1992. The kindness that people showed towards one another and willingness to help strangers overcome this disaster left a lasting impression on her. Councilwoman Waldman, like most Homestead residents, lived off donations from strangers from all over the United States for months. She founded the Kindness Awards during Hurricane Andrew’s 10th Anniversary, as a way to recognize acts of kindness in times of need.