Now in its 33rd year, the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations’ Operation Turnaround luncheon on Apr. 23 honored 44 Kendall area students who positively changed the direction of their young lives over the past year.
Organized by the late Dorothy Cissel, a career educator, the program has recognized hundreds, each nominated within his or her school by teachers and guidance counselors as deserving of recognition by establishing a positive academic record, often with significant personal hardships.
“There is nothing that can replace the value of mentorship” is the timeless mission statement that has seen KFHA members sponsor luncheons to announce the scholarship awards to graduating high school seniors and special recognitions to middle and elementary school students.
Complementing the program was a dramatic account by School Board District Six member Raquel Regalado, keynote speaker, who related personal challenges of her own that made her “a fighter.”
Once in protest of a seventh grade teacher for openly posting grades, she took her case to her mother who advised her to fight her own battles. Regalado did, leading the school principal to order the grade list removed.
“The point: you can do it yourself; you don’t need mom,” Regalado said.
High school seniors honored were: Daniel Vargas, Miami Killian, and Benigno Rabell, Miami Sunset, $1,000 from Miami-Dade College; Carlos Maldonado, John A. Ferguson, $500 KFHA scholarship; Fiamma Fernandez, Felix Varela, $500 scholarship sponsored by District 8 County Commissioner Daniella Cava; Shannon Mohammed, Coral Reef, $500 award from Eddy Barea and Ibiley Uniforms, and Daniella Gonzalez, G. Holmes Braddock, Miles and Lina Moss Scholarship Award.
Thirteen middle/K-8 school students received trophies, sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores and gift packs that included movie tickets, and gift certificates from the Moonlite, Barnes & Noble and Kmart. All students received a certificate and photo poster award.
Co-chairing the luncheon hosted by Miami-Dade Firefighters Local 1403 at local’s headquarters, 8000 NW 21 St. in Doral, were Donna Valls, Melinda Iglesias and Lina Moss whose husband, Miles, is president of the KFHA Operation Turnaround Scholarship Initiative.
Other benefactors of the 2015 program included Judy and Daniel Cowan, David D. Iglesias, Sherry Maer, Libby and Adolfo Perez, Michael and Nancy Rosenberg, Marvin and Joanie Stein, Donna Valls, Jane and William Walker.
Credited with special support for the program: Christina’s Party Rentals, Image Miami, Miles Moss and Associates Inc., Model Design Printing, ReMo’s Catering, and Chef Rena Mohamed.
Middle School students honored: Natalia Olivares, Arvida; Clara Cancio, Bowman Ashe/Doolin; Emily Miller, Devon Aire; Matthew F. Torres, Frank C. Martin; Mathew Santander, Glades; Josmel Martinez, Hammocks; Christian Fernandez, Jane S. Roberts; Lazaro Remis, Lamar Louise Curry; Lovenson Beaubien, Kenwood; Dianela Ordaz Iglesias, Leewood; Marriesha McCuller, Richmond Heights; Timothy Rodrigluez, Vineland, and Briana Santos, Winston Park.
Elementary School winners who will receive their recognition at student honor assemblies: Mia Sanchez, Bent Tree; Adriana Gil, Bowman Ashe/Doolin K-8; Valentina Egana, Calusa; Chris Orellana, Claude Pepper; Erin Quinlan, Coral Reef; Joanna Vidal, Cypress; Tomas Evora, Devon Aire; Maria Moreira, Dr. Gilbert L. Porter; Yasmin Perez, Dr. Manuel C. Barreiro; Renzo Martin, Ethel Kroger Beckham; Jonathan Clark, Frank C. Martin; Lia Cepero, Jane S. Roberts; Kassia Raimont, Jack D. Gordon; Sofia Duran, Kenwood; Edgar Echevarria, Kendale; Kevin Santamaria, Kendale Lakes; Cayla Moore, Leewood; Allen Blackwood, Norma Butler Bossard; Brenda C. Martinez, Oliver Hoover; Liz Hernandez, Olympia Heights; Christopher Penate, Royal Green; Aaron Andressen, Sunset Park; Andres Jimenez, Vineland; Denise Linares, William Lehman, and Saniya Moss, Winston Park.