When Business Sense Meets Charity

Patty Myura with children in front of Pat Reeves Village

Patty Myura with children in front of Pat Reeves Village Homeless Emergency Shelter.

PALM BEACH, FL – As the owner of a women’s apparel business she grew from a single boutique into 10 stores, Patty Myura knows what it takes to nurture success.

It’s the same motivation she brings to her work on behalf of charities.

Myura, along with Patrick Park, will be honored Dec. 5, 2012, at “Dance the Night Away,” a benefit for the Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County, Inc. The honor culminates her many years of service to the group, work that she relishes.

“I do everything with a passion,” she said, “or it won’t work.”

Myura’s drive stems from when she was a “bored housewife” living in Absecon, New Jersey, outside of Atlantic City, with her husband, Anthony (“Buzz”), and baby son. It was the late ‘60s, and she decided to launch a women’s clothing store. Later, when she was approached to open in a new mall – the first of its kind between Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and New York City – her business took off.

“I had people lined up for a block in the mall,” she said.

Patty MyuraUltimately, she opened several other stores, and became a prominent fixture in the business community, chairing the area’s Women’s Chamber of Commerce and actively supporting local charities. When the gaming industry came to town, she sold her business and, with her husband, became a developer – the fruits of which enabled her to focus full-time on charity.

“That’s why I can do what I can do here,” she said. “Now I will only work for charity.”

Move to Florida

It was her husband’s idea to move to Florida, and she reluctantly agreed. But it wasn’t long before her reticence to relocate was overwhelmed by the excitement of working on behalf of the needy.

Her first foray into local philanthropy was with the Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County, Inc., where she supercharged its main event by enlisting Saks Fifth Avenue to stage a fashion show.

She had always gone the extra mile to bring pizzazz to the events she directed, and was a pioneer in bringing stars and well-known personalities to perform and speak at fund-raising events in Palm Beach. It wasn’t long before she lent her creativity to the Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County, Inc., a group that for more than 50 years has provided counseling and a wide range of services to the homeless and abused.

The group’s annual luncheon, which started modestly 15 years ago with about 50 guests, has turned into a powerhouse. Known as the “Old Bags” luncheon, the 2012 event was a sellout, drawing 650 people. TV-celebrity stylist Carson Kressley was the star attraction and the luncheon grossed $450,000.

“I work it like my job,” Myura said of her philanthropic endeavors. “I just do my thing for charity.”

Myura’s involvement with the Center for Family Services was inspired by Pat Reeves, a philanthropist she met in 1990. Reeves, Myura said, was focused on helping children. She devoted the bulk of her estate to a foundation, and asked Myura to lead it. Through the Eleanor Patterson Reeves Foundation, Myura set out to realize her friend’s vision.

“‘Give money for children where the need is the greatest at the moment,’ she told me.”

A new home

By leveraging foundation gifts, Myura remade the Center. While for years it provided shelter for the homeless at a motel, Myura took the reins of a fund-raising drive to find a permanent home. She provided a lead gift of $150,000 through the foundation, and with additional support, bought two apartment buildings and ultimately established the Pat Reeves Village Homeless Emergency Shelter for children and families. The facility includes 17 apartments that serve 200 families and anywhere from 40 to 60 children on any given night.

The center is one of many charities she supports. Others include The Boys & Girls Club, Kids Sanctuary, American Cancer Society and Hope House. But she doesn’t just lend her name. As she was in her former business ventures, she is active in every facet, from planning, fund-raising, budgeting and marketing.

“I have to always create something,” Myura said. “I only have one life to live, and I want to live a lot of lives in that.”

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