MDC alumna Yolanda Valencia says it’s not complicated to give yourself to a cause you believe in, with the greatest reward being the ripple effect that one gift can have. Valencia spearheaded two new student scholarships last year through the fresh-cut flower producer Galleria Farms, and has plans to support more MDC students in the future.
Valencia, who leads charitable giving and human resources at Galleria Farms, says MDC was a natural fit for scholarship support since youth and families is a priority for the company’s philanthropic support. As an alumna, Valencia also knows firsthand how the College helps support success.
“Miami Dade College afforded me a great career in human resources, and it opens doors for a lot of very promising individuals, who perhaps can’t afford college, to explore what they want to do and get the support they need,” says Yolanda. “Now I see the great work of the MDC Foundation and this opened my eyes to want to help our students.”
In 2017, Galleria Farms funded two MDC scholarships, one for veterans and the other for students pursuing a career in supply chain management and logistics.
“I like the multiplier effect when it comes to philanthropy,” says Yolanda. “Our flowers are grown in Colombia and we work with mass market retailers, so a lot of logistics is involved. By helping an MDC student who is studying this line of business, we could potentially hire her. So, this is more than a scholarship. This could be a mentorship opportunity or future job, and that’s what I look forward to.”
“The scholarship came at a time when I wondered how I would continue to fund my education,” says Diana Restrepo, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management and hopes to graduate debt-free. “Not being able to afford school was a roadblock for many years, and donors like Galleria Farms become the backbone of dedicated, hard-working students like me who need a helping hand to make it across the finish line.”
Galleria Farms also donates flowers for several large MDC events. Valencia considers these contributions of time, talent and resources as investments in the community – not expenses.
She sums it up this way: “I think we are put here on earth to help others. Survival is based on mutual support toward your fellow humans. Philanthropy is a way of doing good by giving. You can give in many ways by donating your resources: money, food, blood, time, talents and more. No act of compassion is too small. If you find an emotional connection to a cause, you will live a full life.”