Spirit of Home Honorees
SOS Founder Estella Moriarty
Judge Estella Moriarty built SOS Florida. Not with hammer and nails, but with a good idea, determination and a brief letter to the powers that be at SOS International.
As the story goes, Estella, a former Broward County Circuit Court Judge, first learned of SOS Children’s Villages in 1986 when her husband, Herb, spotted the obituary of SOS founder, Hermann Gmeiner in the Miami Herald. Long frustrated with the scarcity of resources for foster children in Broward County, she decided to write a letter to SOS Kinderdorf suggesting a village be built here. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Jay DiPietro has known hard work his whole life. Growing up in the “West End” of Boston he started working as a kitchen boy at the Hampshire House when he was just 11½ years old. That early experience would inspire a career in hospitality and establish a drive to succeed. Jay’s career in management started as a manager trainee for the Miami Playboy Club and he went on to manage their clubs in New Orleans, Chicago and New York. This was followed by Holiday Inn Hotels, then Restaurant Associates New York and Boston and finally Longchamps of Florida, which brought him to Miami. He operated five high-end restaurants in Miami/Dade County prior to becoming the general manager of the Bal Harbour Yacht & Beach Clubs.
Wheelabrator Technologies provides services to more than 9 million customers across the country, but makes it a point to be an integral part of every community where they do business. They strive to make their community a better place because their customers are also their neighbors, associates, families and friends.
Wheelabrator's relationship with SOS Children's Villages – Florida goes back over 20 years. According to Director of Community Relations, Linda Sapienza, "When we first came to Broward County, SOS was just coming to Broward County too, and after learning about SOS and their philosophy about children in the community, we knew that we would be able to build a lasting partnership in our efforts to best serve the community."
Joanne Dupont grew up in Maine in a family of seven siblings. It’s safe to say that she knows a few things about family unity. Not surprisingly, she credits the emphasis that SOS places on that sense of family within the Village for her decades-long volunteer service with us. “The uniqueness about what SOS does is in keeping families together under one roof so that even though their young lives have been hard, they still get to experience what family unity is all about.”
Upon moving to the sunshine state in 1979, Joanne’s passion for volunteer work led her to many worthy local charities. In early 90s, during some service work with Kids In Distress, she had the experience of meeting and bonding with a sibling group that would soon come to reside at SOS. She followed them.
TIL Coordinator Lashonda Cross
The staff and alumni at SOS occasionally refer to Lashonda Cross as “Supermom.” But really, what else do you call a woman who has helped to raise 60 children?
Lashonda is one of those rare people that knew her life’s passion from an early age. Growing up in Miami, she vividly remembers the first time she heard a story of child abuse – “I told my mom I wanted to build a big house and have all the abused kids live there.” That early reaction would prove to be a defining moment and would shape an eventual career in social services.