Stellar fundraising efforts help Children’s Home Society

The stars shone a little bit brighter at the sixth annual Reach for the Stars Gala to benefit the Children’s Home Society of Florida last Thursday evening at the Grand Harbor Golf Club.

Guests enjoyed nibbling on items from a raw bar and charcuterie table, partaking of wine and whiskey tastings and even puffing on stogies from the cigar bar. The Elegant Harp Ensemble played beautifully as attendees perused 10 specialty auction items or tried their luck at a cork pull in hopes of winning mystery bottles of wine and whiskey, before dining on a buffet dinner.

Proceeds from the evening will support the nonprofit’s mission to help children reach their full potential through early education and care, community partnerships, counseling, foster care and adoption services. The evening celebrated the more than 50,000 adoptions and over 1 million children and their families assisted by CHS since its 1902 founding.

“The work that we do is to ensure that the playing field is leveled for all children to have a chance to be successful in life,” said Willie Finklin, CHS senior grant writer. “We know that the pursuit of the success of children is worth every effort that we put forward, no matter how small or how great.”

He said the harsh reality is that one in four children suffers from abuse or neglect. Those children are more likely to turn to drugs, engage in criminal activity or further the cycle as they become teenaged parents themselves.

“Growing up I used to think that only people who save and change the world were superheroes; extraordinary beings with amazing gifts and talents to get the job done. I now know they’re everyday people who do extraordinary things,” said Finklin, referencing two CHS heroes, Tony Huerta and Kelly Donovan, who were honored for helping to transform children’s lives.

Sabrina Sampson, CHS executive director, shared that she was born to a young mother and had a father addicted to drugs and alcohol, but that unlike some children, she was fortunate to have a grandmother who supported her.

“My passion comes from the fact that my life isn’t very different from the clients that I serve every day,” said Sampson. “I know it is not as important where I start. What’s important is where I finish.”

Sampson also spoke of several residents of the CHS transitional housing and independent living programs, ages 18 to 23, who have exited foster care and would otherwise have no place to go.

“These kids represent a few young people who without your help would probably be on the streets somewhere on the Treasure Coast. We can invest $1 now to give them a hand up, not a handout. Or we can pay for them in another social services arena,” said Sampson.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Finklin before an Appeal to the Heart, noting that the cost to support a child in foster care is roughly $112,000 versus $2,600 for intervention and programming. “Together, we are reshaping the future of children.”

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Photos by: Denise Ritchie
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