First Impressions Last a Lifetime

Some say first impressions have a sneaky way of leaving lasting impressions on new faces. This thought can apply to budding friendships, strangers on the street and even potential employers. When it comes to meeting a potential employer at a job interview, it certainly helps to dress and look the part of a successful employee. Whether we like it or not, our modern society deems presentability as a strength in the workplace.

For those less fortunate, clothing is certainly not of the utmost priority; survival is.​ According to Miami-Dade County’s Homeless Trust Census conducted in 2018, the homeless population in Miami-Dade county is 3,526. This number reflects those who are able to find occasional shelter and those who are unsheltered.

How has our community combatted this challenge? Camillus House, a notable local charity, offers the homeless a place of refuge. The organization provides emergency housing, transitional housing and permanent housing to homeless all over the city. Emergency housing is just as the name describes; it’s an immediate solution, a place to rest your head at night. That’s not all they do. In addition, Camillus House offers healthcare, treatment, breakfast several times a week, daily lunch, the ability to take a shower and obtain a fresh set of clothes, as well as career placement.

Photo courtesy of Camillus House

I had to find a way to get involved on a deeper level. This meant learning more about the organization firsthand. Recently, I had the privilege of touring Camillus House’s incredible facility. I was in awe of the men and women living on the streets of Downtown Miami that this organization had touched. These individuals had the opportunity each and every day of making one line, which in turn, allowed them access to food, a shower and their choice of an outfit for the day provided to them by the Camillus “store.” These gifts are not exclusive to regular attendees. No, they are for anyone.

The store at Camillus House is run by volunteers and outfitted by the many donations sent in from the community. Every corner of the women’s department was filled with ample clothing in most sizes, shoes and accessories. However, the men’s department did not seem to be so fruitful. It was clear there was a need for more men’s goods. More specifically, professional occasion wear for men. Suits and ties.

You see, Camillus House provides career counseling and placement for participating individuals. Camillus House too believes in first impressions and the importance of attending an initial job interview with a fresh face. That being said, menswear is very much needed at Camillus House, and we were prepared to answer that call.

And so, the Dress for Success donation drive was born. To do this, Be Love partnered with Belen Jesuit Preparatory School upperclassman, Luis Gonzalez. Luis is now a senior and gearing up for the second round of professional menswear collections. In February, he set up various collections bins throughout the community. From Little Havana to Key Biscayne, the collection focused on collecting men’s dress pants, oxfords, suits, ties and dress shoes. Our joint mission was clear: we wanted the homeless to have clothing options in order to feel confident and complete a successful job interview.

Photo courtesy of the Be Love Movement

The second collection will take place from September 23rd through October 3rd.

The following menswear items are in great need:

  • Suits
  • Slacks
  • Dress shirts
  • Sports Jackets
  • Belts
  • Ties
  • Shoes

Photo courtesy of the Be Love Movement

Bins will be placed at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, ​500 SW 127th Ave, Miami, FL 33184​ as well as Value Store It Self Storage facility located at 7500 NW 25th Street, suite 120. For more information regarding donations, please contact Cristina at For more information on Camillus House, please visit

Words from Cristina Alfonso

Spread Some Holiday Love to Lotus House

Feeling generous this holiday season? Spread some festive cheer, and donate to our 2018 Holiday Collection. This year’s drive will benefit Lotus House, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of homeless women, youth and children.

Lotus House Holiday Drive Be Love Movement

Photo courtesy of Lotus House

Lotus House was formed to support holistic, innovative solutions to bring an end to child and family homelessness. The organization recognizes the fastest growing segment of homeless in our country are single, female heads of household with young children. With trauma-informed, evidence based, best practices, Lotus House empowers women and children to heal, learn, grow and blossom into who they are meant to be.

Be Love Movement Lotus House

Photo courtesy of Lotus House

We are collecting new baby goods and new, unwrapped toys until December 17th. Check out the full list of acceptable, new items below to learn what you can donate.


  • New diapers (size 4, 5, 6)
  • New hypoallergenic baby toiletries
    • Full-size bottles of baby wash
    • Full-size bottles of baby lotion
  • Bottles
  • Teething rings
  • Stroller/car seat combinations
  • Double strollers
  • New car seats

*Please no baby powder or wipes*


  • New toys and gifts (for ages 0-17 years)

*Please leave toys and gifts unwrapped*

To donate, please contact Cristina at or Caty at The deadline to donate items is December 17th!

For more information on Lotus House and all the hearts this organization touches, visit their website:

Lotus House Holiday Drive Be Love Movement

Words from Be Love Movement Team

The Magic of a Toy Drive


Photo courtesy of Angelina Capote

Growing up, I loved everything about Christmas. I loved the way freshly baked gingerbread smelled coming out of the oven. I loved putting ridiculously tacky Christmas sweaters on my Maltese, Sassy. I loved the yearly trips to Mall of the Americas to fight my cousins for a seat on Santa’s lap. But most of all, I loved waking up on Christmas morning to a sea of presents under my decadently adorned Christmas tree. I didn’t care for the actual gifts as much as I cared for what each gift represented. Somehow, someway, all of my presents endured magical travels to reach their final destination: my living room. Each present had a purpose and a story.


Photo courtesy of Angelina Capote

As I unwrapped my gifts every year, I would always catch a glimpse of my parents’ expressions. Papi would sit on the couch admiring from afar with a giant smile on his face, while Mamá was right next to me, front and center, wanting a close play-by-play of each unveiling. Over the years, these Christmas’ have gotten me plenty of toys, but the only memories I keep with me are the ones that encompass the way those presents made me feel.

In 2008, I was rushed to the hospital with terrible back pains like never before. The doctors later discovered I’ve had a kidney problem, hiding quietly undiscovered since birth. Being 14 years old, spending my Christmas break in the hospital was not an ideal situation and something I was not looking forward to. Due to the severity of my condition, I was forced to stay in the hospital for almost two weeks, missing my school’s 8th grade Christmas play and all my holiday celebrations. For the first time in my life, I had to face the reality that Christmas wasn’t going to be the same old holiday I had grown to love.

One day during the second week of my hospital stay, I was laying down and watching the usual string of television channels with my mom. Suddenly, a group of cheerful people dressed in holly jolly Christmas attire came into my room with smiles from ear to ear. They sang all my favorite Christmas songs to me and my mom and gave me a gift. Truthfully, it was the happiest I had been during my hospital stay. All because of an unexpected act of kindness from pure strangers. The holiday spirit they carried through their melodies and thoughtful present grew my heart, and my kidneys, three sizes that day. It made me think about all the time and effort that went into planning their small toy drive, helping me appreciate the role of a volunteer.

Just last month, I began to have a pain in my back that mimicked the one I had back in 2008. I prayed this Christmas would be different and, there would be no need to go to the hospital. Thankfully, after a lot of rest and medication, the pain went away. Even so, my thoughts and memories of my last hospital stay didn’t fade into the past. This was the moment I decided to give back. There was something I could do to spread the holiday magic to kids deserving of a bit of spirit. A toy drive would do the trick.

I began posting about my toy drive on Facebook and Instagram through my personal accounts. Friends liked and shared my post, creating a small buzz around our community. I also reached out to the tenants of my office building, asking to leave a toy collection bin at the front of the office lobby. Schools even got involved, like Glades Middle School, as they hosted a mini collection on behalf of the drive. Within three weeks, I received over $600 in cash donations as well as over 200 toys from local donors just like you. The response from my community has been a huge shock and a major blessing. I could’ve never imagined the success of this toy drive, bringing my mind back to those happy feelings I felt when I opened presents on Christmas morning. This time the magic was coming not from receiving, but purely from giving.


Photo courtesy of Angelina Capote


Photo courtesy of Angelina Capote


Photo courtesy of Angelina Capote

On December 17th, I had the privilege to go to my first toy drive event at Baptist Hospital of Miami to give out a batch of fresh gifts. My team and I were able to distribute almost 100 toys to ages ranging from one week old to 16 years old. Experiencing the magical jaw-drops, ooo’s and ahh’s made all our hard work worthwhile. The second distribution on December 22nd took place at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, as we worked with a group of children at an arts and crafts session. Coloring, glueing and creating together made for an even more special event, ending with presents given to each and every miniature artist. The final distribution will unfold at Kendall Regional Medical Center on Christmas Eve – perfect timing for a whimsical holiday surprise.


Photo courtesy of Angelina Capote

Again, I couldn’t be more thankful for all the wonderful souls who’ve come together to make this Christmas miracle come true. My only wish was to touch the heart of at least one child spending the holidays at the hospital, as I once did so long ago. May the selfless and magical Christmas spirit continue, and the thoughtful acts of kindness spread into the new year.

Until 2017.

Words from Angelina Capote

Are You a Generous Sole?

Dr. Alicia Hirzel: physician, wife, mother of four, daughter, sister, and unofficial philanthropist. An unsung hero of charity, Dr. Hirzel has quietly and selflessly been dedicated to giving back to the needy children of her home country, Belize. She spearheads several projects throughout each year including backpack and school supply drives, educational teaching supply drives, and special holiday goodie bag deliveries for children at a local preschool she personally sponsors. Her experiences with these individuals have led to her positively humbling attitude and a collection of inspiring moments shared with her community. Dr. Hirzel has devoted countless years to these projects, and she refuses to let the love stop there.

image1Photo courtesy of Alicia Hirzel, M.D.

When Be Love initially spoke with her, Dr. Hirzel’s unwavering desire to support others immediately captivated our team. She left us changed by her infectious kindness and gentle spirit. Like most micro-philanthropists we meet, they do not perform service work in the hopes of becoming a philanthropist and most certainly wouldn’t boast the title. These individuals simply want to give back and hopefully through the process, change someone’s life for the better. In Dr. Hirzel’s case, her motivation is straightforward and grounded: these children need our help.

Poverty can be found all throughout Belize; however, the lack of resources strikes the Central American country’s youth powerfully. It is estimated that among children ages 17 and under almost 40% live in poverty. Dr. Hirzel has seen firsthand the economic scarcity experienced by the innocent and most promising of Belize natives. Belizean children show up to school with just the clothes on their backs. Most students don’t even own a pair of shoes. Imagine that? Preschoolers and elementary aged children trekking to school under rough, and sometimes unsanitary, conditions completely barefoot. Everyday. In that moment of awareness, the idea of a shoe drive was born.

image2Photo courtesy of Alicia Hirzel, M.D.

As a mother, I think of my own children and how blessed they are to own several pairs of shoes. We take for granted the luxury of being able to replace a shoe that simply doesn’t fit or update a pair because it’s gone out of style. I think about all the shoes my children must have worn over the years and all the opportunities of hope that could have blossomed from these forgotten pairs. For a Belizean child, the idea behind whether the shoes are new or used is irrelevant because these pairs represent acts of pure grace. The smile on that child’s face from a small act of grace would symbolize the first day of leaving those barefoot walks to school behind.

untitled-designPhoto courtesy of Alicia Hirzel, M.D.

Be Love is excited to partner with Dr. Hirzel to collect as many pairs of shoes as we can, new or gently worn. This shoe drive will bring together all the “generous soles” within our community as well as any other dream makers willing to touch the lives of children.

Know that each pair of shoes donated will be worn by a bright eyed and contagiously appreciative Belizean child. Imagine, showing up to school on the first day with a fresh backpack and a pair of shoes… now I would say that’s a great way to start a new school year.

For more information on how you can help the children of Belize, please contact Be Love at


Words from Cristina Alfonso