400 South Floridians Joined Voices For Children Foundation For Annual ‘Be A Voice’ Awards Luncheon
Local not-for-profit raised more than $115,000 towards services for foster children
Event recognized ‘Most Valuable Protectors’ in various categories
MIAMI – Oct. 21, 2013 – Voices For Children Foundation, a Miami not-for-profit organization advocating for children in foster care, and presenting sponsor Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson P.A., served as hosts to approximately 400 South Floridians at the annual “Be A Voice” Awards Luncheon on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. The event, emceed by local media personality Laurie Jennings and attended by attorneys, judges, elected officials, community leaders, volunteers and supporters, took place at Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami, Fla. 33125. At the event, Voices For Children Foundation recognized with “Most Valuable Protector” awards individuals, corporations and organizations that have made significant contributions in the area of child abuse and neglect in Miami-Dade County.
Voices For Children Foundation works to help ensure that abused, abandoned and neglected children in Miami-Dade County each have a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem and that financial assistance and other resources are available for their health, educational and social needs. Through the Be A Voice Awards Luncheon, the organization raised more than $115,000 to support its goals.
“To see so many gathered in support of our mission is extremely inspiring,” said Nelson F. Hincapie, president and chief executive officer of Voices For Children Foundation. “This Awards Luncheon is our yearly opportunity to recognize and thank all those who make what we do possible in advocating for those children in foster care who are yet unrepresented by a Guardian ad Litem. These children are the neediest citizens of our community – abused, abandoned and neglected without an adult to be their voice. We thank all of our supporters for their assistance as we pursue our utmost goal: that every foster child in Miami-Dade County has a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem to be that voice.”
At the Luncheon, one beneficiary of Voices For Children Foundation’s work spoke of her experiences in the foster care system and the positive impact of her Guardians ad Litem and Voices For Children Foundation. “Foster care is not an issue that can be solved by one person, but by many,” said Summer, age seventeen. “In order to provide love and promise in a child’s life it is important that the people who can, step up and take a walk alongside a child in foster care. If more people grow capable of doing what Voices For Children Foundation members are doing today, then we can say that we have really tried our hardest to make a difference. In most cases, it is not the system that recreates a child’s life, but the people working within it.”
The organization presented “Most Valuable Protector” awards in several categories. The Leadership Award, recognizing a strong commitment to children’s causes, was presented to Alan Abramowitz, the head of the Florida Department of Children and Families’ Family Safety Program Office, who was appointed as executive director of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office by former Florida Governor Charlie Crist. Mr. Abramowitz leads more than 9,000 volunteers in what is widely considered Florida’s most effective advocacy initiative, reaching more than 20,000 children.
The Voices For Children Award, which recognizes individuals providing ongoing pro bono support for the work of Voices For Children Foundation, was awarded to Joel Rosenthal, who as the president of Courthouse Express Couriers and Process Servers has provided pro bono courier services for Voices For Children for more than two decades.
Finally, the Community Partner Award, a newly created award dedicated to recognizing an organization which supports collaboration between organizations and agencies for the betterment of foster youth and improvement of the foster care system, was presented to Educate Tomorrow. Educate Tomorrow is a Miami organization which works to create independence for foster youth and other disadvantaged youth through education, mentoring and life skills training.
The luncheon was made possible by key supporters including presenting sponsor Stearns Weaver Miller Weisller Alhadeff & Sitterson P.A., which has sponsored the annual Awards Luncheon for seven consecutive years. Gold Guardian sponsors include Comcast, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Dragados USA, and Florida East Coast Industries. Silver Guardian sponsors include Citrus Health Network, Wells Fargo Insurance and the Jeff and Yolanda Berkowitz Family Charitable Foundation.
About Voices For Children Foundation
Miami-Dade County has 3,512 children in the dependency system, and currently only 57% of these children have a Guardian ad Litem. Voices For Children Foundation raises funds to support the 11th Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program in their efforts to provide abused, abandoned and neglected children in Miami-Dade with a voice in dependency court and achieve 100% representation. Additionally, the Foundation raises funds to ensure that financial assistance and other resources are available to meet the children’s educational, health, and social needs. Visit www.BeAVoice.org for more information.
Editor’s Notes: Event photographs are available upon request.