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Florida’s Children First 18th annual broward reception celebrates outstanding advocates for children

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The statewide presenting sponsor team from Kelley KronenbergFlorida’s Children First recently recognized child advocates and former foster youth at it’s 18th Annual Broward County Advocates for Children Awards, held at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts February 20.

Propelled by its new statewide presenting sponsor, Kelley Kronenberg, more than 300 people gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of community leaders in Broward who support the mission of FCF by making positive changes in the lives of abused, neglected, and disadvantaged youth in or aging out of foster care.

“This year’s event is so special as we not only celebrate the accomplishments of amazing champions for children in our community, but it’s also the 15th anniversary of Florida Youth SHINE, our ground breaking youth advocacy organization, which has now helped thousands of current or former foster youth use their voice to effectively change the system of care for years to come,” said Christina Spudeas, FCF executive director.

“Each one of these honorees has truly made an impact on our community and on the lives of our state’s youth,” said Howard Talenfeld, FCF president and business unit leader of the Justice for Kids Division of Kelley Kronenberg. “I am thrilled for the opportunity to spotlight them and all of the many, wonderful advocates for children in Florida.”

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried received the 2020 “Outstanding Champion for Children Award.” Before Commissioner Fried was propelled to statewide recognition, she was a practicing attorney and lobbyist. She dedicated a tremendous amount of pro bono time lobbying to help FCF pass one of the most critical and comprehensive pieces of legislation protecting the rights of children in state custody — HB 561. This legislation provides legal counsel for children in the dependency system who are medically fragile, developmentally disabled, have very serious psychological problems, or are victims of human trafficking.

The recipient of this year’s “Outstanding Corporate Advocate for Children Award” was Anita Byer of Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk. Harboring what she calls “an appetite for charity,” Byer has donated her time and her company’s resources and expertise for years — contributing where she could and how she could.

FCF’s 2020 “Outstanding Youth Advocate Award” went to Heaven Williams, who participates in the Florida Youth SHINE program, having served as vice president of her chapter. She currently runs a group at her former foster home, SOS Children’s Village, where she meets with adolescent girls and gives them a safe space to discuss and learn about various independent living topics. Not only does she mentor the young women at SOS, she also serves as a mentor at her church, sings in the choir, and assists her pastor with social media content.

Event emcee Patrick Harris, a former WLRN personality and current VP of membership at the Riverwalk Trust, led the ceremony and helped introduce attendees to this year’s honorees.

For more information about FCF, Florida Youth SHINE and upcoming events, visit www.floridaschildrenfirst.org.

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