Service to others is a constant thread in Leslie Campione’s life. From a young age, she understood the need to lift others. As a young adult she pursued a law degree and as an attorney, she has helped countless clients navigate their way through problems and guide them to meaningful solutions. As a Lake County Commissioner, her lens widened to include a very diverse economic area.
“I can't remember a time when I didn't believe in the importance of service to others,” says Campione, one of 12 women participating in the Diamond Endowment project for Lake Cares Food Pantry. “But I don't think I'm very different from most people in our community.
“Often people want to help but they don't know how to get involved. A fundraiser such as the Diamond Endowment allows participants -- whether wearing the necklace or buying raffle tickets -- to do something fun and unique to support a great cause and to have a positive impact in someone else's life.”
As a public servant, Campione has seen the services Lake Cares Food Pantry provides to families in Central Florida.
“Lake Cares is able to do more than just feed the hungry, the agency helps connect people with other services that allow them get their feet back on the ground,” she says. “There is something inherently powerful when you feel that no one cares about your difficult circumstances and then someone comes along to show you that your life matters to them.”
Diamonds and the ravages of poverty are an “incongruous” pairing she adds. “In some ways, this exquisite piece of jewelry just doesn't seem to fit in the Lake Cares’ mission, and yet it still makes perfect sense because it is a vehicle to achieve a really important purpose.”
Each time she wore the necklace she felt she was on a secret mission of sorts. For safety and security purposes, the participants have been encouraged to be discreet about the value and who is in possession of the piece. Even with those restraints, she was able to share details with close friends and family to spread the word about the fundraiser, which will culminate March 30, 2019, at the Lake Cares 10-Year Anniversary Gala at Lake Receptions.
“Then there was the whole question of when it was appropriate to wear the necklace,” says Campione, whose workweek includes wardrobe needs from casual to elegant. And the conflict between the opulent and the impoverished remained on her mind.
The life lesson that surfaced: “The reminder that those who depend on Lake Cares Food Pantry don't have such a silly dilemma. They need something healthful to eat, the knowledge that someone cares, and the understanding that there is hope for better times.” Wearing the necklace became another avenue of service.
She recognizes each of the other 11 women will have their own challenges and revelations along their monthlong journeys with the necklace. But they all have an overarching theme: “The common purpose that brought us together at this time in our lives -- the opportunity to help end hunger in our community through the wonderful work of the Lake Cares Food Pantry.”