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CHARITY | The Guardian Angels Jackson Memorial Foundation & The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

BIOGRAPHY | Mari Alarcon-Grimalt, a Connecticut native, began her education at Fairfield University, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in business management and a minor in communications. With big dreams of fabulous things to come, Mari set off to Los Angeles to attend the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, where she obtained an Associate’s degree in Interior Design in 1984. Prior to making Miami Beach her permanent home, Mari also resided in Long Island and Manhattan.

Mari always had an eye for stylized living, whether it was fashion or interiors, and knew she wanted to play an influence in the way women felt about themselves and their environment.

“I think the creativity of working in interior decorating is similar to the fashion industry; both fields involve putting ideas and trends together for a beautiful, well-styled, final product,” states Mari. With her love for aesthetics, Mari decided to open the boutique on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, a perfect location for society people to shop for the most desirable clothing collections in the fashion scene. Mari’s daughter, Ali, created the name “hip.e” to represent the boutique’s overall trendy presence yet relaxed personality. Mari’s main focus to maintaining her high fashion boutique is the philosophy, “do what you love and don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Mari is also highly involved in the Guardian Angels Jackson Memorial Foundation for over 10 years.

Founded in 1997, the Guardian Angels is a membership support group of Jackson Memorial Foundation. The group's mission is to assist Holtz Children's Hospital, located at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, in providing the very best medical care to all children in our community. Comprised of over 300 members, the group raises private funds to enhance and expand pediatric specialty programs, and leads the creation of a comforting modern environment for hospitalized children and their families.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a small, flexible charity, established in 1977 to honor the memory of a famous Naturalist, David Leslie William Sheldrick MBE, the founder Warden of Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, where he served from its inception in 1948 until his transfer to Nairobi in 1976 to head the Planning Unit of the newly created Wildlife Conservation & Management Department. David died 6 months later but his legacy of excellence and the systems he installed for the management of Tsavo and wildlife generally in Kenya, particularly in the sphere of wildlife husbandry and ethics, lives on.

The same can be said of Elephants, for the Trust can claim another important first. Daphne Sheldrick was the first person in the entire world to successfully hand rear newborn fully milk dependent African Elephant orphans, something that spanned 28 years of trial and error to achieve. By the year 2008 the Trust had successfully saved and hand-reared over 82 infant African Elephant calves, two from the day of birth. Currently, over 40 of the Trust’s hand-reared elephants are fully established and living free amongst their wild peers in Tsavo, some returning with wild born young to show their erstwhile human family. Based at two established Elephant Rehabilitation Centers within Tsavo East National Park others are still in the gradual process of re-integration with yet others in early infancy at the Trust’s Nairobi National Park Elephant and Rhino Nursery. The Trust has trained a team of competent Elephant Keeper who replace the orphans’ lost elephant family until such time as the transition to the wild herds has been accomplished, something that can take up to l0 years, since elephant calves duplicate their human counterparts in terms of development through age progression. Those that were orphaned too young to recall their elephant family remain dependent longer, but all the Trust’s orphans eventually take their rightful place amongst their wild counterparts, including those orphaned on the day they were born.

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