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Mary Stanley is no stranger to the spotlight. From showcasing fashion to reflecting active lifestyles, she has been in front of the camera for four decades projecting images that inspired others.

But recently the Miami, Fla, native took on a unique campaign that didn’t involve the camera, the latest trends in fashion or a brand. In May, Stanley donned the “Bella Diamante” diamond necklace, a beautiful work of art appraised at $21,500. She is one of 12 women participating in the Diamond Endowment project for Lake Cares Food Pantry.

“It’s hard to put this experience into words,” says Stanley, who has called Mount Dora home for eight years. “As the second woman to wear the necklace that is raising awareness and funds for Lake Cares, there was a bit of social media buzz already in place.”

For her, the necklace was a remarkable catalyst for illuminating the critical role Lake Cares has in Central Florida. The project put her on a quest to talk to as many people as she could about what the agency does and its ongoing needs.

“I am not a shy person but participating in this project made me feel strong,” she says. Strong enough to tell others – often complete strangers – about the necklace and the 2019 Lake Cares 10th Anniversary Gala. Since mid-April 1,000 $50 raffle tickets have been for sale. First prize is “Bella Diamante.” Second prize is $5,000 and third prize is $2,500. The winners will be announced at the Gala celebration at Lake Receptions in Mount Dora.

“I love the one-on-one strategy of this yearlong journey,” says Stanley. Each of the 12 participants become instant spokeswomen for the organization and they carry that responsibility throughout their daily lives.

From strolling through Mount Dora, running errands and social engagements with friends, Stanley says she reached countless people who were eager to hear about Lake Cares and the stunning work of art created by Gold in Art Jewelry.

“I know it’s been said before, but it truly does take a village to create change,” says Stanley. “I have connected with so many people on a personal level in this fabulous project. All of those conversations add up to more awareness, more understanding, and brighter future for Lake Cares Food Pantry.”