Wednesday, March 20, 2019
The Philanthropist

Micaela Wenger: Kick it Forward Miami


Though only a senior in high school, Micaela Wenger is no stranger to community service. With guidance and influence from her family, she has worked throughout South Florida on projects ranging from meal delivery to swim-a-thons to volunteer work at the Ronald McDonald House. Wegner also spends summers volunteering as a counselor-in-training and time during the school year working with Miami nonprofit The Friendship Circle. But Wenger saw a missing piece in the philanthropy world and set out to create her own form of giving back. “I wanted to create a project that I could continuously work on throughout the year, and that was the beginning of the Kick it Forward project.”

Kick It Forward

Though Wegner’s sport of choice is swimming, she had a front row seat to her younger brother’s interest in, and dedication to, soccer. But what struck Wenger most was the amount of clothing and equipment he and his friends went through each year. “I had watched my brother play soccer for ten years at that point and saw how fast he grew out of his uniforms, sneakers, socks, and all the other equipment he used each season,” she says. “Every year, players need to purchase additional shoes, balls, bags, and other game necessities. The expenses add up and I realized not everyone is fortunate enough to buy all of this equipment.” So in 2014 Wegner launched Kick it Forward Miami and began collecting and donating soccer equipment to the Chapman Partnership Homeless Shelter. “It was not about soccer for me, it was about being able to share what we had with others,” she says. “As the children walk into the room to pick out what they want, the smiles I see in their faces are indescribable.”

A Family Affair

Wegner says she chose to partner with the Chapman Partnership as a result of her own experience with the organization. “They have an amazingly well kept shelter with basketball courts, fields, playgrounds, and much more,” she says. “The children spend a majority of the time playing outside and I knew how much all of the soccer equipment would mean to them.” And though she credits the community’s generosity in donating items, it’s Wegner and her family who personally organize, sort and deliver everything to Chapman. “As some children tell me, they rarely get new or almost new clothing and never get to actually pick out their items,” she says. “It always reminds me to appreciate what we have. Sometimes, the children do not even understand that the clothes and equipment we are giving them is theirs to keep. The excitement that they have is the most rewarding part of it all.”

The Future

As Wegner contemplates her future (she hopes to stay in Miami for college) she has specific plans for Kick it Forward…beginning with a hand-off of day-to-day operations. “The plan is to pass this project down to my brother,” she says. “He will be an incoming freshman this year at Palmetto and is a competitive soccer player (the initial reason for this project). I know he will do great things with it and continue the legacy.” But Wenger is confident that her own involvement will only grow as she graduates from high school this year and steps into the next phase of her life. “Creating this project has been an extremely important part of my high school career, I would not change a thing about it,” she says. “ I can not wait to see the great things we are able to do through Kick it Forward Miami and through other opportunities in college.”

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Andrea Carneiro
the authorAndrea Carneiro