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Tracy Mourning’s 12th Annual 'Hats Off' luncheon

Honey Shine mentoring program raises funds for its ‘Honey Bugs’

Ashley Montgomery | 5/15/2014, 9 a.m.

At this year’s 12th Annual Hat’s Off Luncheon more than 600 people came to show their support for the Honey Shine mentoring program while sporting their best hats — Kentucky Derby style.

Tracy Mourning, founder of 'Honey Shine', a program that aims to balance the mind, body and soul in girls and women through nurturing experiences that enlighten their paths and empower their future.

Held in the ballroom of Jungle Island, The 'Hat’s Off' luncheon was a fundraiser for Mourning’s “Honey Bugs” — an affectionate term the young girls of 'Honey Shine' call themselves. A silent auction and pop-up shop was held before the luncheon kicked off. All proceeds from the event went towards the 'Honey Shine' mentoring program.

Each year, supporters, friends, and sponsors sport their favorite hats and “Miami chic” for an illustrious program. This

year’s theme, “Architects of Our Future: Imagine. Create. Achieve” set the tone for a great day.

“I have been to many luncheons in Miami and our 'Hats Off' Luncheon for Honey Shine truly is all about our Honey Bugs,” Mourning said. “They are the ‘architects of our future’ — this is what we want them to do.”

Master of ceremony Louis Aguirre, an anchor on Deco Drive, a news magazine show on WSVN Channel 7, warmed up the crowd with his personable spirit and light-hearted jokes.

“This event is very important, as it is an opportunity to showcase the work of the organization and how impartial it is to not only the lives of the girls, but also everyone associated with the cause,” said Allaire Williams, creator of the The Daily Latte blog.

An emotional video was played during lunch that visibly moved the crowd to donate funds. The proceeds will help send a 'Honey Bug' to a summer camp program. 'Lady Bugs' took up the donations and distributed balloons to highlight the number of contributions. Soon, nearly the entire ballroom became a sea of yellow balloons.

“Coming from this community — down south in Goulds — and having it come full circle and for our community, to support our girls — that look just like me, I’m so excited,” Mourning said.

Mourning and Jenkins presented 'The Honey Bug of the Year Award' to Catherine Jenkins, who said her journey has exceeded all of her expectations thus far.

“Ever since my sister passed away I’ve become shy and closed and this program has helped me become more open with people,” Jenkins said. “It’s helped me with creating new friendships and becoming close like sisters. It’s all about sisterhood and this program has helped me with that.”

Jenkins is currently a student at Miami Country Day.

“She mentioned that her sister passed away but what she did not say is that she witnessed it,” Mourning said. “For anyone to have to experience that and to continue to push on and to come out here and shine like this . . . this is what Honey Shine is all about.”

This year’s Power of One award went to Lauren Book, founder of Lauren’s Kids.

Book thanked Mourning for being an inspiration to her and for having someone that she could look up to. Her mission for Lauren’s Kids is to prevent sexual abuse through awareness and education and to help survivors heal with guidance and support.

Sister Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ the Headmistress of Carrolton School of the Sacred Heart also received a Power of One Award. Cooke has served as an educator and serves on many boards like St. Stephen’s Episcopal Day School.

To conclude the luncheon, the 'Honey Bugs' showcased their dancing and modeling skills as they strutted down the runway as they smiled. The clothes were provided by Target and Chinese Laundry. The show reflected the progress made by Honey Shine and the Mourning Family Foundation.

“My favorite moment was the fashion show — it was full of energy, excitement and showed how poised and confident the girls are as a result of being in Honey Shine,” Williams said.

For more information on how you can sponsor a 'Honey Bug' or for more information visit honeyshine.org.