The Coastal Star

Philanthropy Notes: Cotillion Academy teens to learn leadership skills

By Amy Woods

The Junior League of the Palm Beaches is recruiting middle school students from South County to sign up for the 2019-2020 Cotillion Academy.
The academy — one of the league’s oldest legacy programs as it enters its 62nd year— teaches dance, etiquette and leadership skills through monthly classes that run from October to April.
“What these students are gaining is not only just dance and etiquette and leadership skills but also confidence-boosting skills,” President Laura Wissa said. “These children flourish. These children blossom.”
They learn everything from the foxtrot and the rumba to the salsa and the waltz as well as how to hold their partners properly in a ballroom-style setting.

“Since we are teaching middle-school-aged students, we use an open-frame partner positioning to ensure that no one is uncomfortable and everyone stays appropriate,” Cotillion Co-Chairwoman Kayla Foriere said.
The etiquette lessons include how to greet acquaintances and make introductions — in addition to table manners — all with a modern twist.
“I think we have come a long way in making Cotillion relevant and inclusive to middle schoolers while still keeping the tradition alive,” said Foriere, a Cotillion Academy graduate. “The structure of it was very much the same as it is now. We wore white gloves and had instructors teach us dance and etiquette. It was a great experience, and there are so many elements that I have been able to apply throughout my life.”
Co-Chairwoman Kelsey Puddington said one of the things that has changed is technology.
“For instance, when is sending a thank-you text or email appropriate vs. a traditional thank-you card in the mail?” Puddington said. “Sixty-two years ago, there were no cell phones or texting. All communication was done person to person.”
The leadership component will be taught by Craig Domeck, dean of the Catherine T. MacArthur School of Leadership at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
“We have taken traditional Cotillion from just dancing and etiquette and modernized it by adding a leadership component,” Puddington said. “This makes our program incredibly unique.”
The program culminates April 7 with a ball at the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach. For more information, call 689-7590 or visit

Foundation funds to help local youths in poverty
Boca West Children’s Foundation granted a record $1.1 million this past season to Palm Beach County nonprofits that support local youths.
Since its inception in 2010, the foundation has given more than $8 million to the cause.
“Our mandate is to identify and implement projects assisting at-risk children and their families for partner agencies in our community,” Chairman Arthur Adler said. “This record amount of funding will go a long way toward feeding, educating, clothing and keeping safe and healthy more than 5,500 children in need every day.”
It is estimated that 25 percent of local children live at or below the poverty level.

Hab-a-Hearts Luncheon raises nearly $150,000
More than 370 guests attended a sold-out benefit at the Mar-a-Lago Club for the Palm Beach Habilitation Center, a nonprofit that provides programs and services to adults with disabilities.
The 28th-annual Hab-a-Hearts Luncheon, themed “Jazz Up Your Giving,” included a performance of jazz favorites by students from Palm Beach Atlantic University. David Lin, the center’s CEO, thanked all of the donors, sponsors and volunteers.
“Their support of the event has a direct impact on our ability to provide a wide range of programs and services to adults with significant disabilities in Palm Beach County,” Lin said.
Nearly $150,000 was raised, which will help support the more than 500 men and women the center serves.

Grant to help Faulk Center meet growing need
The Faulk Center for Counseling has received a one-time grant of $65,000 from the Quantum Foundation to fund ACCESS: Child and Family Counseling for Medically Underserved & Uninsured Children and Families.
The grant will enable the center to meet the growing need for mental health services for the at-risk population in Palm Beach County. It also will provide education and training to the next generation of mental health professionals through a community-outreach intervention program.
“Through this generous grant from Quantum Foundation, the Faulk Center will work to strengthen children and families with mental health services provided by graduate students pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees in psychology, social work and mental health counseling,” CEO Vicki Katz said. “As a direct result, these students — engaged in the mental health community — receive an enriched sense of purpose in their lives to pursue professional careers in the Palm Beach County workforce.”
The foundation’s mission is to fund initiatives that improve the health of the community and its residents.

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