On Saturday, January 13, 2018, Voices For Children hosted the 2018 Be a Voice Gala at the Mandarin Oriental Miami with Co-Chairs Brad and Suzanne Meltzer to show support and raise funds for the foster care youth of Miami. 400 of Miami’s most influential and philanthropic individuals attended the event and raised over $740,000 for the foundation. The funds will go to help ensure that abused, abandoned, and neglected children in Miami-Dade County each have a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem and that financial assistance and other resources are available for their health, educational, and social needs.

“Within our community, we have everything we need to continue to improve the lives of children who end up in the foster care system,” said Nelson Hincapie, President and CEO for Voices For Children. “The overwhelming support is a testament of our common desire to see the brilliance in each child who finds themselves in the darkest of places—without a family.”

The evening began with a cocktail reception that featured a live jewelry presentation by presenting sponsor Harry Winston. Models standing on pedestals wore brilliant diamond necklaces, earrings and bracelets that sparkled throughout the room. Following the reception, guests moved into the beautifully decorated ballroom where they were able to immerse themselves in the organizations’ mission.

Brighter than any diamond in the room, the real highlight of the night was the speech given by Bradel, a young woman who bravely shared her experience as a victim of human trafficking. Her harrowing story depicted a person who had negative labels thrust upon her and her courageous journey to discover who she was. She ended her speech with, “I now get to stand in their corner and be their voice and instill in them the hope that they can be more than their labels.”

Bradel is now working full-time as a Mentor-Survivor with current victims of human trafficking.

In addition to enjoying delicious dinner, drinks and dessert, guests partook in a live auction for a variety of once-in-a-lifetime experiences that included: a retreat in Aspen, a wine immersion in Chile, and a Miami experience with the Miami Heat and the Fontainebleau.  The evening continued with fun beats by DJ Kucha and a lot of dancing.

“Through the power of philanthropy, Jeff and I have connected with this community in meaningful and fulfilling ways. Voices For Children and the Guardian ad Litem Program have given us the opportunity to improve outcomes for kids in foster care and the Be a Voice Gala is a wonderful way to highlight the tremendous impact of both organizations and their supporters,” said Yolanda Berkowitz, Miami philanthropist.

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