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Former South Florida News Anchor, Laurie Jennings, Gives Back With Virtual Story Time

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 18:00:52-04

A former television news anchor and reporter and familiar face to South Florida, continues to give back to the community especially during the pandemic. After 30 years in the TV news business, her warm presence on the screen has never left.

“Welcome to stories with Laurie, today we’re going to read 'Pete the Cat: Rockin’ in my School Shoes',” said Laurie Jennings, former TV news anchor.

Laurie is giving back to the community in a different way.

“In light of everything going on right now, all the protests and riots you’re seeing, I just want to share this book with you. It’s called ‘People’,” said Laurie.

After nearly two decades as one of South Florida’s top news anchors, Jennings announced her departure from the desk to spend more time with her family. However, that hasn’t stopped her from continuing to be a community resource.

“It really started with United Way. They reached out to me and said 'hey, could you read a story to a child on camera? Because we don't have our Reading Pals program anymore. We can't have people meeting one-on-one with our young children'. Nicklaus [Children’s Hospital] had just started an in-house TV network so the kids are watching me there. Miami Cancer Institute, DiMaggio [Children's Hospital] is using my stories, Chapman Partnership for the homeless reached out to me. The more I can spread the word, the better,” said Laurie.

With COVID-19 restricting group meetings and hospital visits, parents and children depend on the Laurie’s stories every day.

“As soon as they hear her voice come on, they all run to get their lunch boxes or lunch trays and they realize it’s time to find a seat and just be engaged,” said Heidi Alzate, VP of Development at Chapman Partnership.

“She stepped up to the plate, she put herself with a beautiful backdrop in her home and we just figured it out. The formatting, what type of video we needed, and what age ranges we needed to target, what the length of the book needed to be,” said Jenny Oquendo, Manager of Children's Experiences at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

Gracyn Smith, a 11-year-old patient at Nicklaus Children’s, looks forward to the digital therapy services provided by the hospital. One of her favorites is “Stories with Laurie”.

“It’s great because sometimes parents don’t think to pack more than one book or even a book. So, that was perfect for us,” said Tracy Smith, Mother of Gracyn.

“I will never let the community down and this is my little gift to give to people. I’m able to get a light and get a microphone and tell stories and hopefully help parents, give them a little reprieve, and teach the kids and give them a little break in their day,” said Laurie.

Laurie told us her twin boys help her edit the stories after she records them, so not only is she spending more time with them, but she’s putting them to work to help spread the work!

To find Laurie's stories, head to http://lauriejenningslive.com/