At Pinch Me Gastrobar and Market in Coral Gables on a recent Monday, guests received a bowl of paella and a glass of Pinot Grigio in exchange for a donation of $25 or more for Puerto Rico relief.
Carolyn de Moya was collecting the donations and her paella got cold. She had been too busy gathering money and greeting guests.
Around 6:30 p.m., Spencer Aronfeld, de Moya’s boss at Aronfeld Trial Lawyers, delivered a speech. He thanked everyone that had shown up and gave special acknowledgment to the hard work and dedication de Moya put in.
“Without her, none of this would’ve been possible,” he said.
De Moya then announced the amount raised: $2,400.
She moved to Miami when she was a year old with her older sister and parents from Red Bluff, California. Her father had received a job offer from a hospital in Miami.
The 28-year-old studied at the University of Central Florida, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality and event management.
De Moya said she has been working at Aronfeld Trial Lawyers for two years as the director of marketing and public relations.
“I handle all the marketing for the firm,” de Moya said. “I also handle ‘Lawyers to the Rescue.’”
“Lawyers to the Rescue” is a non-profit organization Aronfeld started in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The group is comprised of attorneys who assist countries that have been affected by natural disasters, such as Puerto Rico, by organizing fundraisers. The organization’s evolution has led to a partnership with Camillus House to provide free legal service once a month to those who need it.
De Moya, who along with the restaurant and the firm, had only two days to plan the event at Pinch Me Gastrobar & Market. The owner of the restaurant, Ruth Andre, said she wanted to help.
“It’s the thing to do. If we all chip in, we all help out, it makes a difference,” Andre said.
De Moya said she understands the damage these natural disasters can cause. Her mother is from Mexico, a country that was affected by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake on Sept. 19. Her father is from Cuba, which was affected by Hurricane Irma as it passed through the island on Sept. 8.
“It’s horrible,” de Moya said. “I am thankful my family wasn’t affected.”
She said her empathy for those harmed, along with her love for event planning, helped make the event a success.
“I think there is power in numbers, and I think that when you can get a group of people excited about a cause, it motivates you more to work even harder and see how great you can make it,” de Moya said. “We had such an amazing response from people who wanted to attend, and donate and do whatever they could.”