We had the good fortune of connecting with Yolanda Berkowitz and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Yolanda, how does your business help the community?

The mission of Friends of Miami Animals Foundation is to save and improve the lives of homeless pets, but during our six years in this field, we have added pet retention to our work. We have seen even more clearly the value that pets have for the people in their lives and as social isolation grew during the pandemic, we saw people turning to pets more and more for companionship and connection.

Our work in pet retention is helping keep pets and people together and to keep pets out of shelters, and we are grateful to be able to support the important human- animal bond, that’s proven to be mutually beneficial to both people and animals. The benefits includes, among other things, emotional, psychological, and physical benefits to people, animals, and the environment.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?

After advocating for kids in the dependency system for over 20 years, I pivoted to my work in animal welfare in 2016, and founded Friends of Miami Animals Foundation. Seeing the nearly 30,000 animals that come into our county shelter annually and understanding the importance of the human-animal bond, I realized that some of my work advocating for at risk kids could be significant in helping at risk pets and their people.

I have seen firsthand the impact that one person committed to an underserved population can make, and committed to doing my part to elevating the animal welfare conversation in Miami Dade County. To that end, our primary focus from the start has been Miami Dade Animal County Services, our tax payer funded shelter that is supposed to be a safe haven for at risk pets and people, and they are the front line in animal welfare issues and where we could make the biggest impact in our community..

I am most proud of how we have been able to foster relationships to help us in our work and how, as a small non profit, have been able to pivot to where we find the need to be greatest. By continuing to work with local and national leaders in animal welfare, to develop and support programs that help pets and pet families, as well as our county shelter, we are making positive strides every day in this work and look forward to continued success.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Miami Dade County is culturally diverse, blessed with beautiful natural resources and with a community that is thriving, engaged and philanthropic. Places like the Miami Design District, a culturally signifiant area that was created from a quiet, sleepy and overlooked area are definitely on my list, as is showing visitors the beauty of Redland and the farming community that is trying to hang on as urban sprawl takes over … Michelle Bernstein’s food is remarkable and definitely a stop for anyone who considers themselves a foodie, and as the vegan food scene expands and grows, I would include some of these special spots for food, as well. Fairchild Tropical Garden, the Kampong and south Miami/Coconut Grove are very special to me and sharing some of the special green spaces we get to enjoy as residents is also a highlight for visitors. Biscayne Bay is a gem right in our back yard and finding time to get on the water is always a thrill for visitors.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?

My friend and marketing guru, Molly Lopez, and her team at Sparo Marketing, have fully embraced our mission and work and have been beacons and guiding stars for us as we expand our reach in the community. Their commitment to FoMA and to the vision we have for creating a more compassionate community for people and pets has been key in our success and in the connections we’re making in the community to help more pets and people.

Website: https://www.fomapets.org

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fomapets

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/fomapets

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FOMAPets

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fomapets/

Image Credits
all photo credits: Friends of Miami Animals Foundation

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutMiami is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.