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Kristi House News


2004 Conference Draws 150+ Participants;
2005 Planning Underway

More than 150 participants from throughout Florida and several other states attended the Multi-disciplinary Approach to Investigating Child Abuse conference last spring, marking the beginning of national training on child sexual abuse originating in South Florida. Kristi House hosted the event in collaboration with the Florida International University School of Social Work’s Institute for Children & Families at Risk.

The 2005 Conference, with a focus on mental health best practices, is slated for Feb. 28 and Mar. 1, 2005, again at the FIU Kovens Center. Featured presenters include Charles Wilson, lead staff advisor of the Kauffman Best Practices Project, and Benjamin Saunders, director of the Family and Child Program of the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. Online registration will be available starting in November at www. kristihouse.org. Anyone interested in being added to the mailing list for the conference packet can make their request online anytime, or call the Kristi House offices. To submit a proposal to present a Workshop, download a 277 KB Microsoft Word document.

The 2004 Conference featured medical and legal leaders in the field who shared their expertise on the multi-disciplinary approach to child sexual abuse investigation and prosecution. A highlight was former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno who gave the keynote address about the multi-disciplinary approach and its origination in Miami-Dade.

Janet Reno
Janet Reno gave keynote
at first conference in April
Dr. David Muran
Dr. David Muram at
plenary session
Mary Cagle and board members
Mary Cagle, Executive Director of CHARLEE with
Kristi House Board members Stephanie Demos, Bonita Whytehead and Margaret Nee

Spanning two days, April 26-27, 2004, the first day featured Dr. David Muram, expert in the areas of interviewing and clinically evaluating suspected child sexual abuse cases, as well as Dr. Astrid Heger, another internationally recognized expert in the field who discussed diagnosis. Allison Turkel, senior attorney at the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse, discussed all legal aspects relating to prosecuting cases.

The second day of the conference was devoted to workshop break-out groups that explored the effects of the medical exam on the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of a sexually abused child. (View or download images of the 2004 conference.)

 
Miami Police Chief John Timoney
Lateef Ibrahim and Osa Ogiemwanye flank Miami Police Chief John Timoney
Delores Dunn and Berta Blecke
Delores Dunn and kristi House Board member Berta Blecke
Mel Black and Stephanie Demos
Attorney Mel Black with Kristi House Board member Stephanie Demos
Carol Novak, Allison Turkel and Rima Shahin
Kristi House Immediate Past President Carol Novak, Attorney Allsion Turkel, and Kristi House Finance Director Rima Shahin

 

Kristi House extends its gratitude to the National Children’s Alliance and Health Foundation of South Florida for their underwriting support of the conference.

For companies and area organizations interested in supporting the 2005 Conference, sponsorship opportunities are available and underwriters needed for scholarships, workbooks and facility expenses (see below). Please contact Trudy Novicki via email or phone at (305) 547-6836 to learn how you can partner with us making this important educational event a success.

Sponsorship/Underwriting Opportunities
Presenting Sponsor ($15,000) This Sponsor’s name/logo will be associated with the title of the Conference and included on all materials leading up to and during the 2005 Conference.
Hospitality Sponsor ($7,500) This sponsorship will cover expenses related to participants' breakfasts, lunches and Keynote Reception & Dinner.
Workbook Sponsor ($5,000) This sponsorship will cover expenses related to providing each participant with a comprehensive workbook containing all conference notes, background readings and related printed materials. Like the 2004 notebook of more than 150 pages, the Conference Workbook will remain an important resource for all participants for many years.
Conference Underwriters ($1,000-$2,500) These underwriters will help defray the costs associated with facility use at the state-of-the-art Kovens Conference Center, audio-visual equipment rentals and speaker expenses.
Scholarship Sponsors ($500) These underwriters will enable Kristi House to offer tuition and lodging scholarships to deserving participants who otherwise would not be able to attend the Conference.

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A Mother Shares Her Story

“My story started almost two years ago when my oldest son came from Colombia after living with his father, grandparents and two aunts for a year and a half. The way he looked and behaved wasn’t right. He showed a lot of signs of insecurity, fear and sadness. After his first two or three weeks with us (mother, stepfather and little brother), he asked me a question: ‘Is it true that family members are commonly sexual abusers?’

My most horrible fears that I had lived with for years overcame me. The uncertainty about his grandfather sexually abusing him came up in my mind, and in my heart I knew. Eventually, my son confirmed to his stepdad, and then to me, that he had been touched in an inappropriate way by his grandfather. But that turned out to be only part of the worst nightmare of our lives.

A friend told me about The Journey Institute where we spoke to a therapist who talked to each of us. She confirmed that not only had his grandfather abused him, his biological father had as well. The therapist advised us that we had to report it to the Department of Children and Families, but because the abuse happened in Colombia,, DCF and the local police didn’t have jurisdiction. We went ahead and reported it and in the next 24 hours we were surprised that a person was here, trying to help us, asking questions and telling us to submit all the information to Kristi House.

The first person I met from Kristi House was Nicole Sanz, the case coordinator who came to my apartment, talked to me and gave me the support I was looking for for me, and my family members, starting obviously with my son. I thank God for putting altogether the people who helped my son, my husband, my other little son and me through all this painful and devastating, but successful treatment: Ana Gonzalez, Maria Echeverry, Dr. David Cremer (who has been an incredible doctor and human being!), Aida Petralak, Nicole and all those at Kristi House who are always there to give us a word of hope! My experience with the help and support from Kristi House has been incredible, and a blessing for all of us.”

–A Kristi House Mom

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Trudy NovickiFrom the Executive Director

The staff at Kristi House has had a busy summer and fall, creating new group therapy programs, designing a new program for the assessment of sexually abused children, and working on the system of service for child victims with our partner agencies.

These programs are essential to the welfare of our children, but without financial support, they may not be able to continue. Dedicated board and personnel at Kristi House continually seek new private foundation grants and government funding.

Although these sources provide partial funds for new initiatives and sustain a portion of our reoccurring expenses, Kristi House cannot, however, continue to sustain its existing programs without a financial commitment from our community to support its mission. Therefore, if you have not yet made Kristi House a part of your yearly charitable giving, please consider joining other supporters as Kristi House strives to establish a strong donor base of annual givers.

Kristi House’s annual campaign gives you—our supporters—the opportunity to be stewards of this organization’s programs and its mission. It is vital to develop a stable base of donor support. Your generous charitable contribution will make a difference: one child at a time. Please help us make this a banner year for Kristi House as we approach a decade of service to the sexually abused children of our community.

Warm regards,
Trudy Novicki

A Note of Thanks. This year the Village of Bal Harbour made a generous donation to Kristi House from the forfeitures fund. Their Chief of Police told our board that he intends to challenge other municipal police departments to match Bal Harbour’s contribution. Kristi House thanks Bal Harbour and the many other supporters of our mission, both past and present.

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Dr. Judy McClearyBOARD SPOTLIGHT:
President Has a Clear Path Ahead

Dr. Judy McCleary, who took the Kristi House presidential reins last May, sees great opportunities ahead for the organization as it undertakes several new initiatives, continues to provide services at no cost to clients and works toward the organization’s vision of reducing the trauma for sexually abused children.

In the short-term, Dr. McCleary said it’s important for Kristi House to strive to become even more widely known as THE place for child sexual abuse victims. The reputation of Kristi House has grown considerably in its relatively short eight-year history, but ongoing efforts are needed to be sure that everyone among all sectors of the community knows to turn to Kristi House when they need help.

At the same time, Dr. McCleary says it’s vitally important for Kristi House to continue to develop the partnership of the multi-disciplinary team, core to its mission.

“Our mission remains to improve the experience for children who have been sexually abused, lessen their trauma, and to do that we need everyone’s cooperation,” she explained. “Children are interviewed five, six, seven times by each agency...each of which has its own needs, but it shouldn’t have to be that way.”

The multi-disciplinary team approach involves bringing together law enforcement, medical and rape treatment center professionals, case managers, mental health professionals and social workers in an effort to streamline the investigation process and speed the road to recovery for the child and family. Coordination of this team has long been a central focus of Kristi House.

At the same time, Dr. McCleary said the Board is shepherding a number of new programs Kristi House has undertaken in response to the dynamics of change in our community. Kristi House has been involved in planning meetings as the Department of Children and Families prepares for the transition of responsibility of care for children in dependency to Our Kids. Kristi House will provide comprehensive assessments for all children identified as victims of sexual abuse, starting in January 2005.

Education and prevention skills for all children has also been a key focus, with increased outreach to schools and community organizations. The Department of Juvenile Justice is supporting Kristi House’s efforts to provide innovative prevention programs by funding two research-based groups for parents and children.

And finally, the conference series that Kristi House began earlier in 2004 is yet another example of the organization’s growing leadership in the field, in this case at a national level.

While Dr. McCleary’s private practice is as a clinical psychologist for adults, her
volunteer devotion has long been kids. She has served on the Kristi House Board since “almost the beginning,” lending her mental health expertise to the leadership team for several years, and is now well prepared to help usher in the latest era of growth. She and her husband, George, have two children ages 14 and 17, and live in Coconut Grove.

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Juvenile Justice Funds Major Prevention Efforts at Kristi House

DJJ starKristi House has launched two delinquency prevention programs with new funding from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. One addresses the growing number of children acting out sexually at young ages, and the other is designed to provide therapeutic support to child victims of sexual abuse and their families with multiple stressors.

The group for children displaying sexual behavior problems affords parents a chance to help children change very serious acting out behaviors before those behaviors result in more victims and juvenile detention.

“If we can treat the children who are perpetrating at these ages, there’s a very good success rate,” Board President and psychologist Dr. McCleary said. “These kids have been victimized in one way or another...exposure to domestic violence, exposure to pornography, unhealthy experiences in their households...all are factors.”

The program and its potential effectiveness is particularly significant for child sexual abuse because once they've reached the criminal justice system, rehabilitation is much more difficult, she said.

Both group therapy programs have proven, research-based positive outcomes. Dr. Brainard Hines, a licensed mental health counselor in Miami-Dade who specializes in child sexual abuse, is leading one group, and the licensed therapy staff of Kristi House is leading the other. Referrals are being accepted for different sessions that start throughout the coming year. The programs take place at the Kristi House Children’s Advocacy Center, are offered in English and Spanish, and provide for on-site childcare for non-participating siblings during evening sessions.

If you have any questions about either one of these programs, or wish to make a referral, please contact Ruthlyn Webster or Camilla Tamargo via email or phone: 305-547-6800.

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Multi-disciplinary Team Renews Commitment

Congratulations to the Multi-disciplinary team for signing its new Team agreement to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and treatment systems for sexually abused children. The Team and its leadership include Charles Hood, Department of Children & Families; Joni Goodman, Guardian Ad Litem Program; Karen Simmons, MD, Roxy Bolton Rape Treatment Center; Trudy Novicki, Kristi House Inc.; Robert Parker, Miami-Dade Police Department; Chief John Timoney, Miami Police Department; Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Office of the State Attorney of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida; and Walter Lambert, MD, University of Miami Child Protection Team.

Multi-disciplinary Team
The Multi-disciplinary team at a meeting in October (from left to right): Major Jorge Perez, Detective Gary Jackson, Angie Mahy, Trudy Novicki, Chief Jim Loftus, Bobbie Ibarra, Charles Hood, Joni Goodman, Karen Simmons, MD, Chief John Timoney, Ivonne Duran, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Walter Lambert, MD, Joshua Weintraub, Lisa Fussell, Jose Arroyo and Kathleen Hoague.

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Touch A Heart Dinner & Auction is Here!

Kristi House’s Fifth Annual Touch A Heart fundraiser on Nov. 6th clearly is going to be the biggest ever for Kristi House!

In a larger venue to accommodate the popularity of this once-a-year experience benefiting Kristi House children and families, guests will be treated to an exquisite gourmet dinner, accompanied by a grand selection of fine wines. Unique, luxurious getaways and other fabulous items will be auctioned in live and silent bidding. The special evening, complete with live entertainment, will take place at the Four Seasons Hotel on Brickell Avenue.

Call Kristi House for seat availability (a few tickets remain at the time of publication): 305-547-6839. Special thanks to the Evening’s Wine Purveyor, National Distributing Company, Inc. for their generous support.

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Azanet CabesasSTAFF SPOTLIGHT
Azanet Cabezas: Serving Clients & Kristi House for Five Years

In the five years that Azanet Cabezas has been working at Kristi House, she's witnessed significant growth in the organization, matched by some considerable strides she herself has made at the same time. Azanet began working at Kristi House as therapy receptionist in 1999 while going to school full-time for her Bachelor's degree in psychology. She successfully juggled work and school commitments, and graduated from Florida International University in 2001.

With her new educational credentials, Azanet was promoted to a Case Coordinator position enabling her to work directly with clients to address their myriad needs. Not one to take things too slowly, a year or so later she took on another new position, as Outreach Coordinator. In this job she visited elementary, middle and high schools, as well as other community-based organizations, spreading the Kristi House education and prevention message. During this position, she began working toward her Master’s degree in Social Work at night and on weekends, and graduated with her M.S. in December 2003.

With another educational feather in her cap came another job advancement at Kristi House, this time to Therapist, which Azanet began in January 2004.

“This job is the most challenging because it's not a typical therapist job, where you just work on the symptoms the child is presenting," she said. "You have family court and criminal court to contend with, which makes it more complex than just dealing with the child. You're challenged to find different ways to deal with families because each case is so different from the next.”

Therapists at Kristi House employ play therapy, group therapy, individual and family therapy in various combinations, depending on the client and family needs.

“Even with all these methods, you have to find creative ways to reach kids. Some kids don't like to talk. For some, play therapy doesn't work, so you might have to try reaching them through art,” Azanet explained.

With the cases at Kristi House, assessment is also an ongoing process as the circumstances, child and family evolve, further adding to the rigors of the job.

While this position is the most challenging yet, Azanet apparently isn't one to sit still. She has begun working toward her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology.

“This one I'm going to have to take much slower,” she said, “as it requires a lot...practicum, clinical hours, dissertation...I'm not going as fast this time!”

When Azanet began at Kristi House, there was just one part-time psychologist in the Therapy Department as the still-young organization was just in its infancy.

“There's been a lot of growth,” she said. “In the beginning relating with other agencies was tough, but now they know who we are and that we've helped a lot of people. There’s a lot less explaining we have to do as we now have credibility.”

Azanet, a native of El Salvador who came to Miami with her family as a junior in high school, has come a long way. And, she’s been there for Kristi House on its journey at the same time.

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Volunteers Add Warmth to Kristi House
By Lauren Diamond, Volunteer Coordinator

Volunteers are essential for creating the warm, caring atmosphere that helps Kristi House’s visiting children and families feel welcome. Kristi House volunteers are students, lawyers, homemakers and artists. Some work for other non-profits, come from community-based corporations like FPL, or serve in the legal field. They range in age from 18 to 80+. It’s a diverse, marvelous and dedicated group that Kristi House is fortunate to have.

One of Kristi House’s longest volunteers is Rose Cohen, who takes to heart her role in making Kristi House that warm and caring place, and has done so for more than three years. Rose is in her 80s, but has more energy than most 20 year olds, coming to Kristi House every Thursday to play with children. She also makes certain that all the books and toys are in their proper places.

One day I found Rose balancing on the little blue chairs trying to reach the stuffed animals on the very top of the book cases. I call that “going above and beyond the call of duty”...she simply viewed them as needing organizing too!

Staff and visitors share Rose’s pride in how wonderful the reception and playroom look when she has spent a day with us. Rose has been a generous donor to Kristi House in other ways as well, for which all associated with the organization are extremely grateful.

Cathy Nicol has also recently passed her three-year anniversary of volunteer service with Tuesday afternoons the slot she dedicates to serving Kristi House clients. With her kind, sweet and wonderfully calm demeanor, the kids love to be around Cathy. She has a great deal of patience and a funny sense of humor. Thank you Cathy, you’re the best!

Keisha McFarlane has also been volunteering for three years at Kristi House and is a full-time student at Barry University, but still has time for the Kristi kids, returning each fall to volunteer. We will miss her when she graduates this December. She has done an outstanding job.

Melissa Bent, another three-year veteran volunteer, is a student at the University of Miami who has been our angel in keeping the computers running in the playroom area. She donated the computers and gets new games for Kristi House children as well. She drops in whenever she has time and makes certain that the games and computer are working properly. Many thanks, Melissa, for keeping Kristi House on this side of the digital divide!

Lin Bentolila and Haydee Perdomo are our evening volunteers, there to support the therapy department and its weekly group therapy session for parents. If the parents bring their children, Lin and Haydee are there to provide fun and games for the kids while mom and/or dad attend sessions. They do a great job at it. Lin and Haydee returned this fall, as did Sarika Rao and other volunteering students.

Florida International University is also represented in our volunteer corps, with Stephanie Pena, president of the Circle K Club at FIU, who has helped Kristi House administratively and will be volunteering time to purchase food for our clients through the Food Bank.

And finally, Kristi House welcomes its newest volunteers – Aura Walborsky, Rachel Rohidy, Kathleen Deasy, Victoria Peach, Ana Maria Lasaga and Lisa Pearson – who are making a huge difference in the lives of many children.

Those interested in volunteering for Kristi House are encouraged to contact Volunteer Coordinator Lauren Diamond via email or phone at (305) 547-6823. Our wish list includes an administrative volunteer to assist with data entry and records management, so anyone with an eye for detail is especially needed!

Lauren Diamond, mayor Diaz and Office Depot
Lauren Diamond accepts a backpack from Joe Cremeens, District Manager, Office Depot; Commissioner Angel Gonzalez; Miami Mayor Manny Diaz; and Ralph Herrerias, Office Depot Store Manager. Office Depot generously donated 75 backpacks with school supplies for Kristi House children.

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Ceramic Sale Gets You Holiday Gifts & Help for Kristi House, Nov. 20 & 21

A talented friend of Kristi House, ceramicist Ilajean Horwitz, is donating more than 100 pieces of her work to the charity of your choice through a special sale. How it works is simple: You go to the sale where all items are priced and marked (extremely reasonably) and see something you like. To buy it, you write your check directly to Kristi House (or another charity if you choose). At the end of the sale, all checks go directly to the charities. The artist is not taking any money from the sale.

All pieces are one of a kind made on the potter’s wheel or hand built. You can choose from bowls, casseroles, candle holders, platters, vases, salad sets, jars, planters, hanging pots and Happy Faces suitable for hanging indoors or out. Ilajean loves creating the pieces and simply must make room at her home-studio for more! Her pots are functional; most pieces are food safe, microwave, oven and dishwasher safe.

ceramics

Ilajean’s pots reflect her love of South Florida and exude the vibrancy of the Sunshine State. Her artistic goal is to brighten the lives of those who come in contact with her work. I.J. has been making pots for 10 years and her creations are in collections throughout the U.S. and in several foreign countries, and she is the recipient of awards for ceramic excellence. Her pieces have been featured in the Great Art Plate Affair at the Coral Springs Museum of Art, at the Women’s Political Caucus National Convention, and at two Ceramic League of Miami Exhibitions.
The Rotary Governor of District 6990 selected IJ’s vessels for his highest Rotarian award for the 2003-2004 Rotary year. The Women’s Political Caucus chose her colorful vessels as awards for their honorees at their National Convention.

The sale will take place at Ilajean’s home on Sat. & Sun., Nov. 20 & 21, from 10 to 3 both days. The address in South Dade is 12101 SW 110 Ave., Miami, FL 33176. The phone is 305-256-0745.

Download a printer friendly pdf version of the ceramic sale flyer (316 Kb)

Directions: Take SW 102 Ave. and turn west on SW 120 St. Proceed to SW 112 Ave. and turn left on SW 112 Ave. Go one block to SW 121 St., turn left and go one block to SW 110 Ave. House is on the corner and is white.

Or, use MapQuest to find and print detailed directions.

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Wanted: A Good Read

Is there an overabundance of books in your child’s bookcase? Maybe your grandchild or neighbor’s child has an inventory of books that they’ve outgrown. Good news! There’s a second home for literary treasures for tots. Kristi House gladly accepts donations of gently used books for our library for the children in our programs. Please call Kristi House for a donation pick up or for more information: 305-547-6800.

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teddy bearsToy Time Around the Corner

Please keep Kristi House on your holiday list for toy donations. Every year Kristi House volunteers, the Junior League of Miami, board members and staff put together a fabulous holiday party that includes a gift for every child and their siblings involved with Kristi House. We’ll be accepting donations of new toys at Kristi House starting Nov. 1st.

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Spa Day Treats Clients to Day of Pampering

Several generous beauty mavens got together with Kristi House volunteers and staff to create an exceptional event for clients: Spa Day. Children and moms were treated to hair, nails and make up treatments for a day of spa splendor.

Not only did the ladies leave with spiffy new do’s, thanks to John Simmons of Sephora in Dadeland, everyone got a gift bag and from Maria Clara Buckley, Case Coordinator at Kristi House, a lovely manicure. Kristi House extends its sincere thanks to all who made this special day possible.

Machado, Novicki and PerzicHair stylist Ramon Machado, and Makeup Stylist Tatjana Perzic from Peter Damian Salon, flank Trudy Novicki. Ramon and Tatjana generously donated their services for Spa Day. DeLucca and Reed
Jonda DeLucca and Natalie Reed, owners of If Skin Could Talk, donated gift bags for Spa Day.

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