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There’s a new girl in town and she gets around. Eyes are rolling and tongues are wagging. Oh my. Oh my. Maribella is causing quite a stir. She owns every room she is in. She’s glam. She’s glitz. And she shines like a beacon of hope. Yes, hope.

Maribella is the second Diamond Endowment raffle item to benefit Lake Cares Food Pantry. “She” is a white gold necklace with a large pear-shaped pendant adorned with 28 carats of blue topaz, teal, blue and white diamonds. Custom designed by Gold in Art Jewelers of Mount Dora, Maribella has an estimated value of $21,500, and is set to be raffled off on April 2, 2020 with second prize being $5,000 and third prize $2,500.

To support our hunger-fighting mission and to help defray costs for our recently acquired 4,000 square foot warehouse area to store more goods and boost efficiency, we are holding a 2nd Diamond Endowment Fundraiser. 

Our first Diamond Endowment raffle featured "Bella Diamante" (beautiful diamond), appraised at $21,500 and was raffled off at our 10th Anniversary Gala. Bella received such a positive response from our community we decided to do it for a 2nd time!

The prize this time is "Maribella" a white gold necklace with a larger pear-shaped pendant bedazzled with 28 carats of blue topaz, teal, blue and white diamonds. It was custom designed and crafted by Gold in Art Jewelers of Mount Dora and is listed with a minimum value of $21,500, and is set to be raffled off on April 2, 2020 with second prize being $5,000 and third prize $2,500.

The word commitment is something Janet Gamache has never taken lightly. From volunteering in her youth to her work today with Visit Mount Dora, finding those special things in a community in need of assistance or that need to be highlighted is her forte.

Janet is one of 12 women participating in the fundraiser that was inspired by the 2008 best-selling book “The Necklace,” which chronicled how a jewelry-sharing journey changed the lives of 13 women.

“At first I had hesitations about being the center of public attention wearing such a lavish piece,” said Janet.

Dawn was part of the Mount Dora book club that brought the 2008 best-selling book “The Necklace” to the attention of Lake Cares Executive Board. The story by Cheryl Jarvis chronicles how a jewelry-sharing journey changed the lives of 13 women.
For the local spin, 12 women – including Dawn -- stepped up to participate in a fundraiser inspired by the book.

As the Executive Director at Lake Technical College, Diane Culpepper knows that setting goals is the first step to growth and development.
 
When Lake Cares Executive Director Irene O’Malley recruited her to join the Diamond Endowment project, there was no hesitation.

“I have always been involved in service and volunteering,” says Diane. “It started at an early age for me because my mother was always serving others. By the time I was in high school, I was president of the largest service club on campus and it was exciting to volunteer for numerous projects as a high school kid.

It’s all in the numbers for Lynne Winker. As the Vice President & Marketing Officer for United Southern Bank she knows numbers always tell the story.

“With over 10,000 families served by Lake Cares Food Pantry and 733,000 pounds of food distributed per year, that says it all.”

And those numbers need financial investments to keep the agency sustainable. Joining a unique fundraising opportunity set her on a path she had navigated many times before.

Melissa “Mel” DeMarco has built a multifaceted career founded on infrastructure. Her success in various aspects of highway construction, planning and development, mortgage banking, purchasing and material management, contract administration, politics, and journalism all have one thing in common: A solid, strong base from which to build.

The former mayor of Mount Dora and now publisher of the Mount Dora Citizen, knows from experience everything grows from a foundation that is continually maintained and fortified. That same philosophy has brought Lake Cares Food Pantry to where it is today.

Karen is one of 12 women participating in the fundraiser that was inspired by the 2008 best-selling book “The Necklace,” which chronicled how a jewelry-sharing journey changed the lives of 13 women. Each woman wears the necklace, dubbed “Bella Diamante,” for one month raising funds and awareness throughout Lake County. The pantry is selling 1,000 raffle ticket at $50 per ticket.

In the spring of 2019 at the 10th Anniversary Gala at Lake Receptions in Mount Dora the winner will take home the show-stopping necklace appraised at more than $20,000. Second prize is $5,000 and third prize is $2,500.
“Joining this group of amazing women gave me the opportunity to give back to an organization that I strongly believe in,” says Karen.

Diane Grande’s experience with Lake Cares Food Pantry is hands-on as an advocate and contributor.

“The food pantry is so important to the families, seniors and the disabled clients it serves,” she says.  “I can’t imagine what it is like to not have enough food to put on the table.  It is incomprehensible to me.  Maybe we can’t feed the world, but we can surely help those in need in our own community.”

Donna Brown has a passionate commitment to service, a keen artistic sensibility, and a clear understanding of sustainable community growth. So, it was no surprise that the Lake Cares Diamond Endowment project fit her to a T.

“I needed absolutely no encouragement to join the Lake Cares Diamond Endowment Program,” says Donna, president and co-owner of Main Street Leasing in Mount Dora.

“On the contrary, I was hoping to be asked to be a part of it. When the concept was presented to me, I felt it was brilliant. Simply the most innovative fundraising idea I had ever heard.”

Everything award-winning Realtor Robin Skaggs does is focused through an optimistic lens. It’s something she learned in her youth and has guided her to where she is today.

“From an early age as a Brownie and Girl Scout I always participated in volunteering projects, says Robin, one of 12 women participating in the Diamond Endowment project for Lake Cares Food Pantry. “Service is in my DNA.”

Living an impactful life is in lockstep with the mission of Lake Cares Food Pantry.

Bunny Waddell is as energized as the proverbial pink creature who touts batteries in commercials. She has just finished her month of wearing the “Bella Diamante” diamond necklace, a beautiful piece appraised at $21,500. Bunny is one of 12 women participating in the Diamond Endowment project, raising funds and awareness for Lake Cares Food Pantry.

At a gathering at O’Keefe’s restaurant in Tavares she is sharing her story with others in the group before passing the necklace forward to the next participant. “I didn’t anticipate the feelings I would have for the necklace,” says Bunny. “Giving it up is difficult but thinking about all the good it is doing makes it much easier.”

Mary Stanley is no stranger to the spotlight. From showcasing fashion to reflecting active lifestyles, she has been in front of the camera for four decades projecting images that inspired others.

But recently the Miami, Fla, native took on a unique campaign that didn’t involve the camera, the latest trends in fashion or a brand. In May, Stanley donned the “Bella Diamante” diamond necklace, a beautiful work of art appraised at $21,500. She is one of 12 women participating in the Diamond Endowment project for Lake Cares Food Pantry.

“It’s hard to put this experience into words,” says Stanley, who has called Mount Dora home for eight years. “As the second woman to wear the necklace that is raising awareness and funds for Lake Cares, there was a bit of social media buzz already in place.”

Leslie Campione 1st women of Diamond Endowment

Service to others is a constant thread in Leslie Campione’s life. From a young age, she understood the need to lift others. As a young adult she pursued a law degree and as an attorney, she has helped countless clients navigate their way through problems and guide them to meaningful solutions. As a Lake County Commissioner, her lens widened to include a very diverse economic area.

“I can't remember a time when I didn't believe in the importance of service to others,” says Campione, one of 12 women participating in the Diamond Endowment project for Lake Cares Food Pantry. “But I don't think I'm very different from most people in our community.

Diamonds for Lake County in Need

Diamonds are Forever, but Diamonds are expensive!
That reality led 13 California women to go in together on a $37,000 necklace and take monthly turns possessing it. The 2008 bestseller, The Necklace: Thirteen Women and The Experiment That Transformed Their Lives, chronicles how their uber jewelry-sharing journey changed their lives.

Lake Cares Food Pantry hopes to change the lives of its ever-expanding roster of clients by borrowing a page from The Necklace with the raffle of a unique, custom necklace to raise money for expanding its cramped Mount Dora headquarters.