When junior Jamie Cohen entered her freshman year, she already had several interests: photography, Marvel movies and the Miami Hurricanes football team. However, her main passion lies in community service. Cohen heads a non-profit organization called Peace, Love, Smile, an organization dedicated to serving the community through cooking, donating stuffed animals and decorating medals in an off campus organization.
Peace, Love, Eat, a subdivision of Peace, Love, Smile, teaches kids with limited resources how to cook meals. Cohen visits Children’s Harbor, a girls group home, once a month to give cooking classes. When the food is ready, Cohen dines with the girls and leaves them extra ingredients and cook books so they can prepare the food by themselves.
“I have learned so much from each of these volunteer activities. Through Peace, Love, Eat. I learned how to teach and developed skills with public speaking. I had to make sure that 8-year-olds and 16-year-olds would be interested while I taught,” Cohen said.
The second subdivision of Peace, Love, Smile, Peace, Love, Comfort, partners with the national organization, Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE). As a young girl, Cohen loved collecting stuffed animals. However, as she grew older, she decided to donate the stuffed animals to someone more in need.
“Since fifth grade, I have been the South Florida Chapter President of a national organization called SAFE (Stuffed Animals for Emergencies),” Cohen said, “People donate new or used stuffed animals to me and I count, clean, and distribute them to other charities.” Over the past five years, Cohen has collected over 4,000 stuffed animals and donated them throughout cities in Florida. The organization spread to Romania after the head of a church run organization contacted Peace, Love, Smile looking for donations for distribution throughout charities in the country.
The final subdivision, Peace, Love, Kindness, works with the organization We Finish Together to decorate medals for children in need. The medals are given to “someone who needs to know they have the support and care that they may need to get them through whatever challenges face them” according to the We Finish Together website. Cohen serves as fleet president for We Finish together and has decorated over 300 medals. As fleet president, Cohen works with a chapter of six girls to collect and donate medals to local charities. Last year, the chapter decorated medals for students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school.
No matter how small the gesture, Cohen shows that every action makes a difference. “The most memorable part of this experience is knowing that I made an impact in someone’s life and made them feel joyful through a donated stuffed animal, decorated medal, or a cooking class,” Cohen said.