The 21st annual Be a Voice Awards Luncheon held Friday, October 23rd, gave new meaning to the acronym “TGIF.” It wasn’t the end of a grueling workweek that the crowd of 400 was thankful for, rather it was the hard work and dedication shown by the afternoon’s recipients. Mrs. Abigail Price-Williams, Miami-Dade’s County Attorney and long-time Guardian ad Litem volunteer, who received the 2015 Most Valuable Protector Advocate Award thanked the organization for its support. “My heart and soul are with Voices For Children Foundation. I have been a lay and a pro-bono Guardian ad Litem volunteer and I know first-hand what it does in changing people’s lives.” While the second honoree, John Lopez, a former foster youth turned successful graphic designer, also recognized the organization’s involvement while accepting the Path Finder Award. “I would like to begin [by] thanking Voices For Children. They have supported me so much. It’s an honor to be here to receive this award,” said Lopez in his speech. “I am truly grateful for everything [Voices] has done.”
Part fundraiser and part awards ceremony, the 90-minute luncheon that took place inside Jungle Island, hosted by Local 10 News Anchor Laurie Jennings, kicked off with a few words from Voices For Children President and CEO Nelson F. Hincapie, who thanked the attendees— comprised of some of the local community’s local government and professional leaders—for their continuing support. Following his short speech, Denise Sasiain took the stage for a heart-warming account of her experience with the Guardian ad Litem program and Voices For Children, which helped her navigate the foster care system and gain custody of four children—especially one in particular. Xavier came under the Sasiain’s care when he was found in critical condition at the age of two months old. Doctors did not believe Xavier would make it but as his condition improved, so did the threat of him being sent back to live with this family. That’s when the Guardian Ad Litem stepped in, testifying on her behalf in court, which helped her gain custody of Xavier. Though still in recovery, today he’s healthy and living with the Saisian family.
Throughout the afternoon, attendees had the opportunity to bid on numerous items available at the event’s silent auction silent auction. Among the hot ticket items was a spa day at Exhale inside the EPIC Hotel and Residences, a painting by Romero Britto and special Miami Dolphins memorabilia. Over $130,000 was raised at the event to benefit Voices For Children Foundation, which encourages others to do their part in helping Miami-Dade County’s growing foster problem. “If you can’t contribute, participate,” encourages Hincapie. “There isn’t effort too small when it comes to helping the thousands of children who need our help.”
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