Thank you Whatchamacallit for Kids!!!

Thank you Whatchamacallit for Kids!!!

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.

>> SHINY SHOTS: Speak Up For Kids PBC

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.

Non-Profit of the Year – Speak Up for Kids of Palm Beach County

Non-Profit of the Year – Speak Up for Kids of Palm Beach County

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!

“Making Every Day Count for Children”

“Making Every Day Count for Children”

Martha Ahr

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?”

Community Foundation Grants Record $9.98 Million to Charities in Fiscal Year - Speak Up for Kids PBC a recipient of their kindness!

Community Foundation Grants Record $9.98 Million to Charities in Fiscal Year - Speak Up for Kids PBC a recipient of their kindness!

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

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)


The Happiest of Welcomes Coleen! Speak Up for Kids PBC Loves you!

The Happiest of Welcomes Coleen! Speak Up for Kids PBC Loves you!

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.

Palm Beach Gardens woman runs first marathon at 58

Palm Beach Gardens woman runs first marathon at 58

MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: Robin Henderson, 58

There are lots of people in this world who have a list of things they would like to accomplish during their lives, but some never attempt to mark off even one.

Then there are people like Robin Henderson.

She’s a 58-year-old mother of three young adults in Palm Beach Gardens, a wife of 30 years and a senior vice president and senior relationship manager in commercial banking with Bank of America.

And, as of this past October, she also is an accomplished marathon runner.

Henderson didn’t spend her younger years as a runner. In fact, she had barely run three miles before challenging herself to 26 miles in the Bank of America Chicago marathon two months ago. Before her marathon training, she had exercised a couple of times a week in a local gym and listened to the stories of her co-workers who had accepted the marathon challenge sponsored by their company in Chicago every year.

This time around, she accepted the challenge herself.

Running a marathon had always been on her bucket list and she figured that this year was a better time than any to try it because her youngest child had left for college so Henderson was an empty nester.


“I thought it would be a wonderful distraction by committing to this,” she said.

So she gathered her co-workers for support and they taught her the ins and outs of training for a marathon. She read a book called “The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer,” which included a 16-week running program that Henderson referred to as her bible.

She began her training in early June, and she started out walking fast at first, four times a week. That eventually turned into running and soon she found herself finishing long runs.

“I’ll never forget my first six-mile run,” she said. “I felt like I had accomplished such a major feat that day.”

She stuck to the nutrition guidelines outlined in the book and ate plenty of pizza and pasta to fuel up for her long runs on the weekends.

Hurricane Matthew struck just days before her scheduled flight to Chicago and she was worried she was going to be stuck in South Florida and that her training had been for nothing. But she ended up catching a plane out of Orlando and she arrived in the Windy City a couple of days before the race, where she was greeted by her two daughters who had traveled to Chicago to cheer their mom on.

There were five people from Henderson’s Bank of America branch who competed.

“My employer and manager were fully supportive of all of us in training, and I’m very blessed to work with such a great organization,” she said. “It’s the best place I’ve ever been.”

And if it weren’t for her co-workers, she may not have run the race at all.

On that sunny, cool day, when Henderson heard the bell marking the beginning of the race, she said it was such an exhilarating experience, one that’s kind of hard to describe. Strangers were cheering her on and she met so many positive people along the way who had kept the same pace as Henderson.

“I felt like I was smiling the entire time,” Henderson said. “I took it all in.”

She finished the marathon in six hours and 57 seconds. It’s a time that she was hesitant to share, but it’s one that impresses more people than she may imagine because Henderson accomplished something that many people talk about, but are too scared to try.

When she made it to mile 24, she said she became emotional. Just stunned that, at 58 years old, her body was healthy and strong and had made it that far.

Crossing the finish line was an experience, she said, that she will have for the rest of her life.

So what’s next on her bucket list?

She wants to travel internationally and tour places like Ireland, Thailand and Austria. But she’s decided to add one more item to her list.

And that is to run yet again.

Henderson plans to take part in the Zion Half Marathon in Virgin, Utah. And this time, she said, her daughters will be joining her.

She’s inspired them, as she has many others, that accomplishing long runs is something anyone can do if they pour their heart and soul into it, just as Henderson did.