Left to right: Kalyn James, Tracy Wilson Mourning and Marla Wilson at the 15th Annual Hats Off Luncheon.



Special to South Florida Times

MIAMI – It was an afternoon filled with class, style and elegance. Most importantly, it was a time for Miami’s “Honey Bugs” to “shine” their brightest. With the striking décor and ambiance of the Loew’s Miami Beach Hotel, mixed with the 1920’s themed attire, the 15th Annual “Hats Off” luncheon proved to be one of Miami’s premiere fundraisers of the season.

Emceed by WPLG‘s Local 10 News anchor Neki Mohan and hosted by Tracy Wilson Mourning and Honey Shine, Inc., the luncheon, held May 13, celebrated the 15-year anniversary of the program’s community outreach and mentoring for underprivileged girls in South Florida.

The program, which recently expanded to Los Angeles and Dallas, has been on a mission to “balance the mind, body and soul” of young women for over a decade.

The luncheon is not only a platform for the empowerment of young girls, but also a spectacular setting showcasing the sophisticated women and men of South Florida.

A ballroom filled with “who’s who,” in an a ultra-chic Miami staple hotel – all who were dressed in their most fashion forward ensembles and extraordinary head pieces – took the time out of their weekend to support one of South Florida’s most significant youth organizations.

Featuring a silent auction of some very noteworthy items, pre-selected vendors like Marchesa and a variety of custom jewelers, the event was a dream for any Fashionista looking to spend their money for a purpose.

This year, the girls in the program, who are affectionately known as the “Honey Bugs,” got the chance to showcase some of their talents in live performances and by walking the catwalk in a fabulously charming fashion show.

To the delight of the audience, the girls put on an impressive salute to the Roaring Twenties and most of all, put patrons in a charitable mood for both ‘fun-raising’ and fundraising.

The 2017 “Hats Off” luncheon honoree was philanthropist Madeleine Arison, wife of chairman of the Carnival Corporation and owner of the Miami Heat Micky Arison.

Arison received special recognition for her longstanding dedication to Honey Shine since its inception. The non-profit is a recipient of funds raised by the Carnival Foundation that allow hundreds of young women from underserved communities across South Florida to attend various programs, including the six-week ”Camp Honey Shine” Enrichment Program.

Camp Honey Shine is held at the Carrollton School of the Sacred Hearts in Coconut Grove with help from Carnival and other corporate partners. It has grown greatly from serving 50 girls to now serving over 200 hundred girls in South Florida.

Graciously accepting the honor, Arison said she would continue dedicating herself to making sure that girls from underserved neighborhoods have access and opportunity to excel in education.

The other woman of the hour was none other than Honey Shine Founder Tracy Wilson Mourning, who sincerely demonstrated a great deal of gratitude towards the diligent efforts of all who keep the organization functioning.

With a large amount of support from corporate and community partners, volunteers and staff, the tremendous amount of loyalty shown to Honey Shine over the years was evident in the attendance of the “Hats Off” luncheon and Wilson’s heartfelt show of appreciation during the program.

The end of the function was just as much a party with a musical performance by local singer-songwriter Lavie and happy hour sponsored by Patron. Guests got a chance to shop with the exclusive vendors, relax to the sultry sounds of a live band and mingle a little more with others who lingered until the very end.