Ten Questions With Rachel Saltzman Friedland

Rachel Friedland is a resident of Aventura, Florida, who wanted to help make a difference in her community when COVID-19 cases were on the rise. She helped by donating food and meals to the first responders in her city. Rachel is also running for Aventura Commissioner. I sat down with her to discuss her project. She is calling “Feeding Aventura’s Heroes,” as well as her campaign for Aventura Commissioner. 

“How did you get the idea to donate to the first responders?”

“Well, when the pandemic seemed to be getting worse, I saw that the doctors and nurses were working so hard in the hospitals, and I wanted to do something and give back so my children and I decided we would deliver food to the doctors and nurses in the hospitals. We then decided to expand and start helping firefighters and the police.”

“How have you achieved the funds to make these donations?”

“I started a go fund me page with my children, and we started posting it on Facebook, sharing it in different social media and on emails, and we were then joined by the mayor of Aventura by the name of Enid Weisman and now vice mayor Howard Weinberg and together we all sent out massive text messages and emails, and many people saw what we were doing and our wonderful intentions to help these heroes.”

“How have restaurants been helping out during this?”

“We have reached out to all of the local restaurants and businesses, and we have been helping them continue to make money by serving and selling items, but they have been providing us with discounts because they know these meals are going to serve the people that are out there taking care of all of us. It’s a win-win situation. We gave them business, and they give some discounts to make it meaningful for everybody.”

“Which restaurants have you gotten food from so far?”

“We have gotten food from Barrio Latino, Sicillian Oven, Graziano’s Market, Casa de Angelo, Tap 42, Bagel Cove, Moe’s Bagels, Soho Deli, Soho Marketplace, and Pollo Tropical.” 

“Have your initial fundraising goals been met?”

“Yes, they have been met and exceeded. We first set a goal of raising 10,000 dollars. We raised 10,000 dollars within less than a week. We then were approached by a big business in the Aventura area who called and said they wanted to help with our initiative to help first responders. A gentleman by the name of Grant Cardone donated through his Cardone foundation 18,000 dollars.”

“How much money have you raised so far?”

“As our goals were met each time, we raised the goal and have now raised over 40,000 dollars.”

“Have you used the funds in any way different than what you expected?”

“Yes, we have actually promised to anybody that donated that we would document and keep track of all of the money we spent. The initial money was all spent to feed doctors and nurses in the hospitals, firefighters, police officers, 911 dispatchers, bus drivers in Aventura. We then went ahead and realized the teachers in our city as true heroes. We spent a majority of our money initially in that phase. But then we looked around and saw the needs of seniors in our community and many people who are struggling financially. We have now been reaching out to them and buying gift cards to give out to them, and we have actually bought paper goods and household products and groceries and whatever they might need to help make their lives a little easier.”

“Moving on to your campaign, how has the coronavirus situation caused you to change your campaign?”

“Well, the beginning of the campaign would have started off with fundraising. I had entire lists of individuals and companies and corporations in the city of Aventura that I was going to contact, but obviously with the loss of jobs, the loss of finances in the economy it’s very hard to go out and contact people to ask to donate money to a campaign. So I immediately moved to working on a social action committee and helping individuals to get my name out in the community rather than going out and trying to raise money.”

“What is the main goal you would try to achieve as commissioner?”

“As the only candidate with school-age children, I understand how important education access is to our community’s future. One of my main goals would be to expand education access.”

“How would you plan to achieve that goal if you won the election?”

I will work with the commission to continue the tremendous support for Don Soffer Aventura High School and explore additional opportunities to bring public education access to younger children as well.”

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