PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. - When her twin boys were born 4 1/2 months premature, Laurie Jennings was drawn to support the March of Dimes, an organization focused on reducing the incidence of premature birth.
"For someone to share their story so openly and freely, it gives a voice to the voiceless," Rochelle Darman, with the United Way of South Florida, said.
Jennings was also named one of the United Way's Leading Ladies for her efforts to support the organization.
"My first charity event with the United Way was during my first job in Youngstown, Ohio, and I started giving to the United Way because I saw how great they were and how much they do in each community, and it really has been the one constant, charitywise, of every market I've worked in," Jennings said.
Harve Mogul, former president and CEO of the United Way of Miami-Dade, worked closely with Jennings during much of her TV career in South Florida.
"Laurie came in as a spokesperson, but she quickly transcended that because she's so much more," he said.
Mogul marveled at how Jennings became directly involved in community efforts.
"She did something I've never seen any other on-air personality do; she actually got dirty," he said. "When we had projects, she dug holes. She painted walls. She was invested in the project."
Mogul said Jennings was also adept at fundraising.
"She's got a lot of assets," he said. "She has two of the most incredible eyes and when someone would sit across the table from her, no one knew how to say 'No.'"
Along with a 30-year commitment to the United Way, Jennings has supported the Chapman Partnership, which works to empower the homeless, for nearly a decade.
"She has been a part of our annual Illumination Gala for the last seven-plus years, and every time she comes, she shows up with the right spirit, the right passion and all the right words to say to really drive awareness about the homeless," Chapman Partnership President and CEO Symeria Hudson said. "She's a pillar in the community. People have trusted her over the years with channel 10, so to have her standing there and representing us really means a big deal for us and certainly for the people we support."
Jennings has also dedicated her time to the Jackson Health Foundation's Guardian Angels program, which supports Holtz Children's Hospital.
"I think Laurie is a cornerstone in this community and one that people look up to," Keith Tribble, president of the Jackson Health Foundation, said. "I really will miss seeing Laurie on the air, but I know she will always be committed to the Guardian Angels and to Holtz Children's Hospital."
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