City officials, community leaders, professionals, and committed child advocates gathered to help Voices For Children Foundation honor its 2011 Most Valuable Protectors (MVPs) at the 17th annual Be A Voice Awards Luncheon on Oct. 20 at Jungle Island.
The Most Valuable Protectors are members of the community who have shown an outstanding commitment to the fight against child abuse. The event raised more than $100,000 towards the organization’s goal to ensure that every child in the Miami-Dade County foster care system is represented by a Guardian ad Litem.
For the fifth consecutive year, the event was sponsored by Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, PA.
“We are proud to support Voices For Children and applaud the critical role it plays in our community to protect the most vulnerable and the most valuable — our children, our future,” partner Jay B. Shapiro said.
Attendees were given a personal perspective on the importance of the Guardian ad Litem program through the emotional and candid testimonial of a former foster child, Angelica. Smoking marijuana at age 12 and living on the streets, she quickly became involved in a life of crime dealing drugs and stealing. At 15, with 14 arrests to her name, Angelica met her guardian, the person whose consistent support inspired her to change her life. Now a high school graduate, she looks forward to studying architecture at Florida International University.
Local 10 News anchor and event emcee Laurie Jennings spoke about the need for the community’s support in the fight against child abuse. A mother of two and a 2007 MVP recipient, Jennings explained how the organization’s mission is very close to her heart and was honored to present the four Most Valuable Protector Awards to: Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, LeadershipAward; Richard Hersch, Esq., Legal Advocacy Award; American Express Charitable Fund, Philanthropy Award, and Office Depot Foundation, Voices For Children Award.
Nelson Hincapie, Voices For Children Foundation president and CEO, addressed the audience thanking them for their support.
“Without the continued support of our munificent sponsors, the over 3,300 children currently in foster care would go unheard,” Hincapie said. “We are humbled and honored by the generosity and passion of these wonderful philanthropic leaders and companies.”
The mission of Voices For Children Foundation is to raise funds to ensure that every abused, abandoned, and neglected child in Miami-Dade County has a court appointed Guardian ad Litem to represent the child’s best interests in court and that financial assistance and other resources are available to meet their needs.
For more information about Be A Voice, visit online at www.BeAVoice.org.