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A happy place for kids — a toy store — was the setting for an event to aid children in a not-so-happy place.
Sally Ricca and Cindy Cook hosted a reception in honor of Speak Up For Kids, a support group of Palm Beach County’s Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) program.
The reception took place Oct. 25 at Whatchamacallit’s for Kids, Cook’s toy store on South County Road.
The afternoon included cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and information about Speak Up For Kids and the Guardian Ad Litem program.
Speak Up for Kids is a non-profit support organization within the Guardian Ad Litem program that advocates for the interests of the children in the dependency court system.
More than 50 people attended.
Thanks to Speak Up for Kids of Palm Beach County, the GAL Program reached 100% representation in Belle Glade and Delray! Speak Up for Kids always goes above and beyond for GAL, this year nearly doubling their budget in an effort to bring 100% representation to abused and neglected children in the 15th Circuit. Speak Up for Kids did the hard work of applying for a Victims of Crime Act grant, won the grant, and have employed four new Child Advocate Managers. This is in addition to another Child Advocate Manager they support! Speak Up for Kids also provides two attorneys who allow the Program to represent more children. Every year their commitment grows, and their hearts are open to every suggestion. “What do you need? Let’s see how we can make it happen,” they say. Speak Up for Kids’ commitment to children has a positive impact every single day!
Mother, grandmother, court guardian and president of a nonprofit charity dedicated to reuniting families devastated by drug addiction, Martha Ahr’s life has been devoted to children.
She answers questions about her volunteer work in Florida’s court system with her own question. “Can you imagine the blow to a child taken from their family?” As a Guardian ad Litem in Palm Beach County’s 15th Judicial Circuit, Martha regularly deals with emotional upheaval. “I’m a friend that never leaves; I talk to the child, I make sure this child trusts me, can call me any time.” She focuses on building that trust and providing basic necessities. “I make sure they have what they need. I’ve learned it doesn’t matter how much a child has, as long as they have the basics.” Her greatest challenge is clarifying court rulings that impact a child’s life, “When explaining decisions made by the judge, what do I tell them?”
The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties celebrated another year of monumental charitable giving.
Collectively, community impact funds of the Community Foundation granted nearly $1.6 million to nonprofit organizations in 2017.
In addition, the Community Foundation facilitated gifts of nearly $7 million to dozens of nonprofit organizations and $1.3 million in scholarships to 125 students. The Foundation currently has $160 million in assets under administration.
“We’re here to serve as a resource and partner,” said Brad Hurlburt, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “Our funding priorities for this year’s competitive grants included endowment building for our local nonprofit organizations and protecting and preserving the local environment. We also supported Achieve Palm Beach County, a collective impact initiative focused on enhancing the education system in Palm Beach County with other community partners.”
Community Impact grants were awarded through several charitable funds at the Foundation, including the Community Impact Fund; the Marie Graber Martens Fund and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fund.
The competitive grant cycle opened last fall and the process included full proposals; site visits; committee evaluations and scoring; and final recommendations to the Community Foundation board in May.
Community impact grants are only one part of the Foundation’s annual grantmaking. Most grants are directed by donors to the causes they care about through their charitable giving funds at the Foundation.
The Foundation also has more than 100 scholarship funds, making it one of the largest providers of scholarships in the two counties. This year, the organization awarded a record $1.3 million to 125 local high school students.
For more information on the grants program, or about establishing a charitable fund at the Community Foundation, please call 561-659-6800 or visit www.yourcommunityfoundation.org.
Speak Up For Kids of Palm Beach County was awarded $8,500 (Henry and Mildred Baldwin Memorial Endowment Fund and Jack Taylor Fund for Abuse and Neglected Children)
Speak Up for Kids of Palm Beach County has hired Coleen LaCosta as executive director. She has more than 25 years of experience working in child welfare. Prior to this position, LaCosta was director of development at Friends of Foster Children. She is on the board of the Florida State Foster Adoptive Parent Association and chair of Palm Beach County Unites for Children.