Friends and Neighbors

Foster kids get free school uniforms

 

Special to the Miami Herald

A favorite proverb of teachers goes like this: “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”

It’s time again for a new school year. Let the learning begin.

To make that start better for more than 300 children in Miami-Dade County foster care, the Voices For Children Foundation recently provided uniforms and supplies needed as part of the group’s fourth-annual “Back to School” event.

Thanks to donations from the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation and other donors, the children were given up to $100 to choose and purchase new school uniforms at partner Old Navy at the Shoppes at Dadeland. Old Navy gave a special discount for the occasion.

Every child also received a pack full of school supplies, courtesy of the Office Depot Foundation.

The foster children between four and 18 years of age are represented by the 11th Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program. They picked up their uniforms and supplies on a recent Sunday.

“We’re thrilled that so many foster children will be able to start the school year with new clothes and all the supplies they need,” said Nelson F. Hincapie, president and CEO of Voices For Children Foundation in a news release. “We are grateful to our partners and sponsors for making this event possible, year after year.”

Victor Pulido, a former foster child who was served by Voices For Children attended in support of the cause.

“Many foster children have more sad memories than happy ones. During this event, I had the honor to witness many happy faces full of joy and dreams,” Pulido said. “Without a doubt, these children will cherish the opportunities given to them that evening. As a former foster child, I want to give many thanks to Voices For Children and all of its supporters for looking after us and giving us the opportunity to feel loved.”

The mission of the nonprofit Voices For Children Foundation is to raise money “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.”

Guardians ad Litem are trained, court-appointed adults who serve as representative voices in dependency court proceedings. There are more than 3,100 children in the Miami-Dade County’s Foster Care system and 1,003 are unrepresented by Guardians ad Litem. Visit BeAVoice.org.

STAY SAFE AFTER SCHOOL

Learn about inspiring and fun ways to keep kids engaged through the Children's Trust 2014 After-School Programs Guide available now in all Winn-Dixie stores, online and at other select locations. Parents also can receive personal assistance by calling 211.

More than one in four young students are on their own after school and parents often say cost is the greatest barrier to enrollment in after-school programs, according to an Afterschool Alliance national survey.

The Children's Trust 2014 After-School Programs Guide can help working parents find affordable programs to ensure their children are safe, learning and exercising after the last school bell.

Free copies of this comprehensive guide—in English, Spanish and Creole—are at all Winn-Dixie stores while supplies last as well as online at thechildrenstrust.org and through calling 211.

The guide is organized by zip code and program listings include addresses, contact information, fees, and brief descriptions. Programs funded by the Trust and those available for children with disabilities are clearly identified. Try to register early as once subsidized slots are filled, regular fees may apply.

Parents can find additional information on topics like Back-to-School Health with tips for your child to get a healthy start to school, Get Organized with skills to help students stay on track for academic success, and How to Raise a Reader with strategies for how parents can inspire their children to become successful early readers.

The Children’s Trust invests in hundreds of after-school programs in Miami-Dade County with the goal to provide free or low-cost options to working families. About 25,000 children benefit from its many summer and after-school programs.

BAKE BREAD AND MEMORIES

There are few better ways to bond with your child than baking together. To help you get started, Claude Juneau, owner of Great Harvest Bakery Co., and his team will host a “Baking Memories” class at 10 a.m., Sept. 14 at Great Harvest Bakery Co. of North Miami, 1817 NE 123rd St.

Juneau, the father of two young women, cherished their quality time in the kitchen when they were growing up.

This new hands-on class for parents and kids will include a demonstration of the steps to making delicious bread. Participants will make their own loaves while having fun in the kitchen. And breakfast is included.

Space is limited. A deposit of $10 is required to secure a reservation. The cost is $20 for one child and one parent. Additional child cost is $10 and additional parent cost is $10. Call 305-899-9998.

JOIN A CHORUS

If you love to sing and meet new friends, join in the fun with the Miami Senior Singers. This group of older adults practices classic favorites in a sing-a-long style and is led by long-time choral director and singer Karen Gentry.

Everyone is welcome and no audition is necessary. Just visit for a rehearsal to see if this group is for you.

The first rehearsal is Aug. 21. Miami Senior Singers meet 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Thursdays at St. Matthew Episcopal Church in the Parish Hall at 7410 Sunset Dr. There is a $20 monthly member fee. Contact Claire Gentry for more details at miamiseniorsingers@gmail.com or visit facebook.com/miamiseniorsingers.

There is also a chorus for adults with developmental disabilities of all musical abilities. Members must be at least 18 to join and simply have the desire to sing. Caregivers and volunteers are welcome too.

Crescendo will get started again Aug. 18. The group meets from 5:30-6:30 p.m., Mondays, also at St. Matthew’s in the Parish Hall. The monthly member fee is $25. For more about this group visit crescendomiami.com. Both choruses are always looking for new members.

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at ChristinaMayo05@aol.com.

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