Julie Kime may be four years into her retirement, but she is far from finished contributing to the community. Following a tour 32 years ago, she fell so in love with the children at the Boys & Girls Club that she became a tireless and consistent voice for them as a volunteer, philanthropist and board member of the organization.
Kime started out as an advisory board member for what is now the Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club of Wellington. She is one of the first, if not the first, major sponsors of the Wellington Dinner Dance, which is the club’s largest fundraiser attracting more than 300 people and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
Kime and her husband, John, are the only benefactors who have supported and never missed one single dinner dance in the event’s 31-year history. She has long served on the event’s committee and has been a fierce solicitor of auction items to help raise even more money.
After serving on the Wellington advisory board for several years, Kime joined the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County’s corporate board of directors. She now serves on both the local club’s advisory board and the organization’s corporate board.
Kime has stayed true to her roots in Wellington. Four years after selling her Allstate Insurance agency in Wellington, she continues to commute frequently from her home in Palm Beach Gardens to take part in the club’s activities, such as its Cinco de Mayo Celebration, Summer Bash, Thanksgiving Meal, Holiday Party and more.
Kime’s roots go deep into the very heart of the Village of Wellington. In 1982, Kime opened her insurance agency, which became one of the most successful in Palm Beach County. Of Cuban background, she was the first Hispanic female agent in the county to operate an Allstate agency.
Now, Wellington boasts a population of 64,848 and Money magazine named it among the “Top 100” Best Places to Live. Kime is ingrained into the very history of Wellington. Many things have transformed in Wellington, including it becoming the “Equestrian Capital of the World.” Yet Kime has remained steadfast in her commitment to the area. She knew as a young entrepreneur that Wellington was a special place.
“I love Wellington and its sense of community,” Kime explained. “I enjoy the people here and especially the children. I felt I would make the greatest impact by choosing one charity and staying with it.”
She chose the Boys & Girls Club as the recipient of her giving spirit. The community seeds she has sown in Wellington have harvested not only a successful business, but also lifelong friends and many accolades.
Kime was a part of the 1990 class of Leadership Palm Beach County, as well as a founding member of what is now the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce. Through the years, she has been the recipient of the Central Chamber’s Business of the Year Award, the Palms West Community Foundation’s Women of the Year Stiletto Award, the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches’ Leadership Award, the Women of Worth Award presented by the Central Chamber, Hispanic Women of Distinction of South Florida and the Portrait of a Woman Award.
However, the accolades are secondary to her deep desire for making a profound difference. Kime and her husband were again one of the first to step forward with support when the initial drive to build a new, state-of-the-art Boys & Girls Club for Wellington’s children started to take shape.
In 2012, thanks to a generous $1.5 million donation from Neil S. Hirsch, $600,000 from Palm Beach County, $700,000 from the Village of Wellington and numerous other donations like from the Kimes, the organization broke ground on the new 22,570-square-foot Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club. The new club opened in April 2013.
Those who walk through the club’s doors will forever be greeted in its John and Julie Kime Welcome Center.
“The club is such a great and safe place for kids to go to after school,” Kime said. “The sheriff’s office loves it because the club helps the police by keeping youth involved in something that keeps them off the streets and away from trouble.”
That level of compassion for the community is part of Kime’s very fabric. She and her husband are also quick to donate to other local organizations, such as Palm Beach State College, the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches and the Everglades Foundation, to name a few.
Yet, Kime’s heart and time commitment remains with the Wellington club. Mentoring young, at-risk students and impressing upon them the importance of education, self-esteem, honesty and hard work is what makes her come alive.
“Seeing the smiles on kids’ faces, how much they love being at the club, and how grateful they are for everything that is provided to them is priceless,” Kime said.
She has leveraged her business and personal relationships to open numerous doors that broaden the horizons of club children.
During the week of Thanksgiving, she works with Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw to send the PBSO to the club in the morning to set up, cook and serve a holiday meal fit for a king to the club’s 300-plus children and staff. Kime, along with the club’s board of directors, joins the festivities and breaks bread with the kids. The all-day affair is estimated to cost $10,000 annually in food, party supplies, decorations and time.
In addition, Kime’s friend J.B. Berkow, founder of the Benzaiten Center for the Creative Arts, provides 60 scholarships every year to Wellington club members. Younger kids experience hands-on sandcasting, while the older kids and teens engage in glass blowing.
Relationships are central to Kime. She and the club’s advisory board enjoy a bond that feels like a family. They support each other and roll up their sleeves together so that club children have memorable experiences, as well as resources to be productive adults.
“The dedication of the board is extraordinary,” Kime said. “They are such good and caring people who give their all and genuinely want to serve these children.”
For her contributions to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, Kime has been inducted into the Jeremiah Milbank Society as well as the Lifetime Giving Society.
Kime has dedicated her life to the Boys & Girls Club in Wellington and to the success of its young members. She looks forward to continuing to serve with as much drive and passion as when she first began her mission three decades ago.
“As long as I can, I will continue to serve,” she said.