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Advocacy Group Florida’s Children First Honors Community Heroes at Palm Beach Foster Children Event

December 2nd, 2011   No Comments   Advocacy, Fundraising & Support

Florida’s Children First, a statewide organization dedicated to protecting foster children and other at-risk youth, recognized Palm Beach County individuals for their tireless work to advocate for the state’s most vulnerable citizens at its annual Palm Beach Fundraising and Awards Reception at Boca Raton’s Bridge Hotel November 29.

Jim Sackett, FCF Executive Director Christina Spudeas, Richard Slawson

Emcee Jim Sackett, FCF Executive Director Christina Spudeas and Richard Slawson

More than 50 of the area’s prominent business and community leaders, as well as individuals and families concerned about Florida’s foster care youth were in attendance to support the organization and its cause, including recently retired WPTV News Channel 5 Anchor Jim Sackett.

Sackett served as Emcee for the evening’s award ceremony, including a special award he presented to a former foster child, Earle James, who he once profiled in a “Thursday’s Child” segment 10 years ago. Earle overcame a difficult background of abuse and loss to become an advocate for children, speaking at parent and youth workshops. His father, Michael, who adopted Earle after seeing the “Thursday’s Child segment” accepted the “Youth Honoree of the Year” award on Earle’s behalf.

Advocate Jesse Diner and FCF President Howard Talenfeld

Advocate Jesse Diner and FCF President Howard Talenfeld

“We replayed the original TV segment during the event, and then Earle’s father shared their amazing story. Having Jim Sackett there to see what has become of Earle since the story aired was such a wonderful moment to share,” said Christina Spudeas, Executive Director of Florida’s Children First.

The Best Foot Forward Foundation and co-founder Debbie Ellman and Donna Biase received the “Child Advocates of the Year” award. Debbie and Donna experienced first hand the struggles that foster youth face academically through their many years working and volunteering with the Palm Beach County School district. Best Foot Forward is a nonprofit organization that connects these children with existing services and programs in the community to help prepare them for life after school.

Barbara Briggs of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County was honored as the “Educational Advocate of the Year.” Barbara is the Supervising Attorney for the Educational Advocacy Legal Program (EALP). She advocates, collaborates and litigates to ensure youth are provided their right to free, quality education.

Debbie Ellman and Donna Biase, Best Foot Forward Foundation (Child Advocates of the Year)

Debbie Ellman and Donna Biase, Best Foot Forward Foundation

“Programs like Best Foot Forward and EALP provide such powerful tools for foster children who otherwise may not receive the guidance they need to excel in the classroom,” said Howard Talenfeld, President of Florida’s Children First. “We are so thankful for individuals like Debbie, Donna and Barbara who help foster children in our community succeed.”

This year’s” Foster and Adoptive Families of the Year” included the Talbott family and the Calvert Family. The Talbott’s lives were forever changed when they welcomed their third child, Austin, into their family. Austin eventually convinced them to adopt a fourth child, Josh, one of Austin’s friends from school. The Calvert’s always wanted a big family and when they learned of a group of four siblings who would be separated they welcomed them into their home with open arms. The family also welcomed a fifth adopted child on “National Adoption Day.”

“The stories of how these families found each other were incredibly moving, and the emotions could be felt throughout the room. We were so honored that each family shared their story with us,” said Spudeas.

Florida’s Children First holds similar events around the state, including upcoming events in Tallahassee on February 1, 2012, and in Broward on March 22, 2012. For more information on these upcoming events or to learn more about FCF please call 954-796-0860 or email fcf@floridaschildrenfirst.org. You can also visit www.floridaschildrenfirst.org.

Education Advocate Barbara Briggs

Education Advocate Barbara Briggs

About Florida’s Children First: Florida’s Children First, Inc. (FCF) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect the legal rights of at – risk children, especially those in Florida’s foster care system. FCF gives these children a powerful voice before all levels of government, including the court system if needed. FCF was founded by child advocates from around the state so that efforts can be coordinated, strengthened and built into a powerful statewide force for Florida’s children.

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