Logano Teams with SOS

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The Joey Logano Foundation reaches out to Homestead families to help provide groceries and more for the Thanksgiving holiday.

It’s difficult to measure the incredible excitement NASCAR Championship Week brings to our area. Race teams prepare for the final competition of the season, the Homestead-Miami Speedway staff operates at a non-stop pace, fans pour in, and businesses gear up to meet the surge.

Among all the goings-on focused in and around the Speedway, there are other events that don’t involve the roar of engines. One of those was the “Second Chances” program of The Joey Logano Foundation in reaching out to Homestead families to help provide groceries and more for the upcoming Thanksgiving meal. Logano, who drives the 22 Car for Team Penske, established his foundation that “..invests in organizations offering second chances to children and young adults during times of crisis and works to inspire others to live a life of generosity.” One of their programs takes place during the 10-week NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Playoffs. In each of the cities of the play-off races, the foundation seeks local non-profits with similar missions and Joshua’s Heart in Miami was a definite match. Four-year-old Joshua William’s wish to, “Stomp Out Hunger”, has become a remarkable organization with the teenager as Founder, President and Chief Change Maker. They have touched the lives of thousands who face the reality of empty cupboards and bare refrigerators. In their incredible work, they have partnered at times with Start Off Smart (SOS), a non-profit initiated by the Homestead Police Department to help meet the needs of families and children who are often the victims of abusive situations. In a synchronization of caring, 100 families selected by SOS came together Thursday, Nov 16th, at the Publix Oasis Plaza in Homestead for a special evening. 

Although the logistics might not have matched the precision of a NASCAR pit crew, the set-up was impressive. The families lined up with their carts to receive a Publix gift card and dedicated volunteers navigated them through the store. After each family came out, Publix pies were stacked up to add to the menu. Paula Ezeinack, from the Shell Oil Houston Office, added to the offerings in giving a gas gift card to each family. “We sponsor the Penske team and the Logano Foundation and like to be at these events when we can,” she said. The NASCAR Foundation joined in too, and provided teddy bears for the children.

Thalia Castro, at sixteen, is one of the Junior Advisor Board Members of Joshua’s Heart and was there to coordinate volunteers and give skin care products. Castro has been friends with Williams since they were in Montessori school and few adults gave credence to their promise to tackle hunger. “It doesn’t have to be what we do fighting hunger,” she said. “Maybe it’s a love of music or dance, whatever you’re passionate about that can be a way of giving is what matters. Concentrate of helping improve one life at a time.”

There was no question about the passion of the dozens of individuals who each had a role in the activities, nor was there any question about the way in which they were helping. “SOS has been working with us for almost two years and they’ve made a tremendous difference,” said one single mother of three children, two of whom are autistic. “We are very grateful for an opportunity like this to make our Thanksgiving more than we could do on our own.”

“We consulted with our counselors to select the families for this particular event,” Sandra Nanni of SOS explained. “We serve about 1,800 families each year and much of what we do centers around those who have left, or are trying to break away, from violence. The holidays can be especially challenging for them and we’ll be helping a total of almost 300 families with food distribution.”

Mayor Jeff Porter of Homestead was on hand to present Logano a City Proclamation to express his appreciation. “I think it’s amazing a nationally known guy like Joey comes to our community to work with SOS and our police. How much better can you ask for?”

WSVN’S News Anchor Lorena Estrada, who covered the event last year, entered the store with Logano as families chose their groceries.

“The foundation made the offer to our corporation originally and I’m pleased our store is the location for the second year in a row,” said Tony DiMercurio, Assistant Manager of the Publix.

“We do provide the money and of course that’s important to organizations,” Logano said. “Our ability to direct the light to what they do is probably even more important. Sure, we could just write a check, but then we wouldn’t be able to be here, talking to people, and learning about their stories.”

   In speaking with one mother and her young daughter, Logano asked the little girl if she’d given a name to her new bear yet. “I’ll call him Joey,” was her immediate response. While the “Joey Bear” may not replace “Teddy”, it does have a nice ring to it and might catch on.

For more information about the Joey Logano Foundation, see http://www.joeyloganofoundation.com

Start Off Smart can be contacted through http://www.startoffsmartinc.com or call (786) 349-6777.

Joshua’s Heart can be found at https://7b8.648.myftpupload.com or call (305) 788-8295.

Source: South Dade Newsleader

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