Inspirational Latinas making an impact.
Honoring the legacies of our loved ones can be the most heartfelt and inspiring gift of all. Cristina Miranda Gilson, CEO of the HDS Companies and Chairman of the HDS Foundation, established the Mercy Gift in honor of her mother, Mercy Diaz Miranda, and in loving memory of her sister, Maria Mercedes Miranda-Diaz. Both women were philanthropists, community leaders, and business mentors to many in our community.
Mercy Diaz Miranda, the matriarch of the Diaz Miranda family, was genuinely concerned about the welfare of all people. She was a member of over 50 organizations and served on numerous boards throughout her career. She raised seven children, all of whom went on to achieve great success. Mercy worked a demanding job as Director of Community Relations for The Miami Herald and Knight-Ridder Newspapers, where she gave back and helped many. Her unwavering efforts and work ethic earned her numerous invitations to The White House, as well as the opportunity to meet several Presidents, First Ladies, Governors, and many other elected officials.
Mercy’s personal life, on the other hand, was not without adversity. She immigrated from Cuba, to Spain, and then settled in the U.S., becoming a single parent at a young age who faced financial, professional, and personal hardships throughout her life. Those who know Mercy, will attest that her relentless dedication had a significant impact on the development of diversity programs that exist today in the South Florida community. Mercy, who will turn 92 this June, lives in South Miami with her husband, Salvador Juncadella, Esq., and is blessed with seven grandchildren.
Maria Mercedes Miranda-Diaz was the eldest of the seven children and the founder of Application Oriented Designs (AOD). Her passion and focus on Affordable Housing and Community Development Programs poised her to influence and mentor others to carry on this mission while fostering causes for those less fortunate. She was an avid traveler who saw firsthand the needs of poor communities, the disabled, and minorities all over the world. Maria Mercedes gave generously of herself, mentored disadvantaged people, and created opportunities for organizations that aided minority and underserved families. Sadly, she passed away in 1998, at the age of 46.
The Mercy Gift is endowed to reward organizations whose missions are aligned with the HDS Foundation., mainly organizations whose services are centered on community outreach and impact the Autism Spectrum Disorder Community.
“People with disabilities are often marginalized in our society,” said Samantha Novick, president of The Friendship Journey. “We all deserve equitable experiences, meaningful friendships, and opportunities to feel empowered.”
Many of the students who have benefited from HDS programs, such as B.R.I.D.G.E.S., have long been active participants in Camp Wings of Friendship. We’ve seen firsthand the impact that the social opportunities and activities that they offer virtually have on these young adults. At Camp Wings of Friendship, they have a place where they can share time with friends, cook, dance, and form lifelong relationships. This opportunity is a priceless gift that this population does not often have. We are honored to support their efforts. For the second consecutive year, HDS Foundation has selected the Friendship Journey/Camp Wings of Friendship as the recipient of the Mercy Gift.