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Kristi House Opens Assessment Unit

On June 1st Kristi House opened its new Level of Care Assessment Unit. This unit will provide all Miami-Dade County court-ordered assessments of children who have been removed from the home and where sexual abuse is suspected. Kristi House was selected to provide assessments by Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, the private entity taking over community-based management of child welfare services in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.

Kristi House has been preparing for this new responsibility for nearly two years through meetings with Our Kids and other service providers. Prior to this consolidation to Kristi House, the function was being carried out by eight different agencies throughout the county which were not necessarily specialists in child sexual abuse.

Three foundations have supported Kristi House in creating this critically important unit. Jim Moran Foundation and Paul Palank Memorial Foundation awarded Kristi House grants toward first-year operations and Dade Community Foundation provided start-up funding for creation of the office spaces and equipment needed for the unit, which is expected to eventually include up to six staff members.

Each child’s assessment will be conducted by a licensed clinical social worker and involve examination of all factors affecting the child’s well being to determine the services needed and the best placement for the child. The goal of the assessment is to help plan for the child’s optimal functioning in the home, school and community. The report will be used by the court, Our Kids, and the full case management agency assigned to design a case plan for the child and their family.

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Annual Fund Raiser Hits Record Highs

Kristi House’s Touch A Heart Gourmet Dinner and Fine Wine Auction hit record highs this past year thanks to the support of many corporations and individuals dedicated to helping to heal the hurt of child abuse. Special thanks goes to Mike Bittel of Sunset Corners Fine Wines & Spirits and to Eli Valdez of National Distributing Company for their support with exquisite wine and expertise, making this a favorite wine afficionados’ event!

Sunset Corners logo                     National Distribution logo

Volunteers are working hard to repeat the success of 2004 on November 5, 2005, again at the Four Seasons. Table hosts are quickly lining up, while exclusive, one-of-a-kind auction items are being sought. If you would like to be involved, please contact Chair Margaret Nee

Kristi House extends its sincerest appreciation to all those who made the 5th Annual Touch A Heart Dinner such a success, including an incredible volunteer committee. We look forward to working with you on this year’s Touch A Heart evening, Saturday, November 5, 2005.

The de Olazarra Family Foundation
National Distributing Company
Eliza & Hugh Culverhouse
The Fana Holtz Foundation
Nancy and Robert Hector, Jr.
Colson Hicks Eidson
Ms. Ella Cisneros
Stewart Tilghman Fox & Bianchi, PA
Teamwork Construction Inc.
Bill Ussery Motors
Berta & James Blecke
Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Hogan & Hartson LLP
Northern Trust
Table Hosts
Ema & Sia Afra
Julia & David Bianchi
Celebrity Cruises
Colson Hicks Eidson
Trudy & Alan Courey
Ashley & Jimmy Cusack
Diane & Allen de Olazarra
Jodi & Bob Dickinson
Swanee & Paul DiMare
Gallagher Financial Systems
Nancy & Robert Hector, Jr.
Barbara & Walter Hinterkopf
Holland & Knight
John Hogan
Leana & Steven Marks
Dr. Judy & George McCleary
Margaret Nee & Fredrick Saunier
Northern Trust Bank
Carol & Al Novak
Sheri L. Orlowitz
Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.
Kim & Kevin Smith
Lydia & Rudy Prio Touzet
Sharon & Marc Watson
Judy & Jon Zeder
Auction Donors

American Airlines
Florence & Sheldon Anderson
Chef Oliver Beckert, Four Seasons Hotel
Ike Behar Peter
Benjamin & Kate Callahan
Boston Red Sox
Bal Harbour
Callaway Golf Company
Capital Grille
Casa de Campo
Celebrity Cruises
Eliza & Hugh Culverhouse
Diane & Allen de Olazarra
Jodi & Bob Dickinson
Elemis Day Spa
Merrick Park
Robín & Gary Fox
Sue & Doug Gallagher
Judy & Phillip George
Nancy & Robert Hector, Jr.
Highlands Wine & Cheese Shop
Interval International
Joe Allens
Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant
Patricia Kirk
Kristine Michael
Rosario Marquardt

Judy & George McCleary
Mercury Resort Hotel
Millennium Partners
Montica Jewelry
National Distributing Co.
Neiman Marcus
Oli Prada, Bal Harbor
Radisson Seven Seas Cruises
Royal Caribbean International
Royal Sonesta Hotel
Royal Wine Merchants, Ltd.
Saks Fifth Avenue Dadeland
Fernando Sanchez-Pineapple Designs
SandaIs Resorts
SeaDream Yacht Club
Debra & Dennis Scholl
Silversea Cruises
Smith & Wollensky
Bubbles & Steven Smolev
St. Supery Vineyards & Winery
Fernando Sucre
Sunset Corners Fine Wines & Spirits
Susie & Brad Warner
Sharon & Marc Watson
Natalie & Jeff Tanen
Windjammer Barefoot Cruises
Libby & Gene Witherspoon
Yachts of Seabourn
Steven P. Zarbatany & Jeri Cohen

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From the Executive Director

Trudy NovickiHave you noticed how often the topic of sexual abuse has been in the media in the last few months? The fact that these stories exist is, of course, a sad commentary on our society. I do, however, look at this time as an opportunity for child advocates to speak out about solutions that can protect our children.

Education is one of the primary weapons we have in our arsenal of prevention. This year we will be expanding our Outreach Program. This initiative teaches children to speak out against abuse, and helps parents and teachers to recognize the symptoms of abuse.

The Children’s Trust, Joseph H. and Florence A. Roblee Foundation, Carnvial Foundation and Twenty Little Working Girls have recognized the value of investment in prevention and education programs. They have each provided funding enabling an expansion of the program into an additional Miami-Dade County Public Schools feeder pattern. We also anticipate support from the State of Florida through the Victims of Crime Act program, which has supported Kristi House education efforts in the past.

This year, our Education and Outreach program will concentrate on the elementary schools, and begin to develop a new best practices approach for the middle school child.

Someday, we would like our program to be in every school. Please help us through your support to make this vision a reality. If you have not made an annual contribution this year, consider making our cause yours now. In addition to outreach, we have many other ongoing and new initiatives that can change the culture of abuse in our generation. Please help today!

Warm regards,
Trudy Novicki

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Therapeutic Best Practices Examined at Kristi House Conference

Benjamin SaundersIn medicine, it takes 17 years for proven, effective treatments to reach general practice. For mental health practice, it’s even longer, Benjamin Saunders, an internationally recognized expert in the field and co-author of the quintessential Kaufman Report, told participants at Kristi House’s Multi-disciplinary Approach to the Investigation of Child Abuse conference earlier this year.

Dr. Saunders was a lead presenter at Kristi’s House’s annual conference, held this past winter in partnership with Florida International University’s Institute for Children and Families At Risk. The 2005 conference focused on mental health best practices.

Inadequate dissemination channels is a leading cause of the lag time from proven effectiveness to general practice, Dr. Saunders explained, along with the relative infancy of the field of child sexual abuse.

"In 1979 there was no science, no knowledge of sexual predators and sexual abuse prevalence," Dr. Saunders said. "Today, we have almost 30 years of data. We know the number of kids who will become depressed, sexually active, etc…. Why not choose the treatment that’s most likely to help the kids?”

Dr. Saunders said that we’re seeing a growing accountability for outcomes, and therapeutic practice will not be exempt. Some funding sources are moving toward "differential payments," which will support those who use evidence-based treatments.

The conference also featured speaker Sharon Simone, whose life story was portrayed by Marlo Thomas in a TV movie, "Ultimate Betrayal." Ms. Simone successfully sued her father, a retired FBI agent and nationally recognized child abuse expert, for child sexual abuse. Hers was one of the first of a tidal wave of cases to be heard, won and reported in the national media.

2005 Kristi House Conference Photo Gallery

Special thanks to The Children’s Trust, Publix Super Markets Charities and Florida Association of CACs for their grant support of the conference.

The 2006 Multi-disciplinary Conference will focus on Investigation and Prosecution.

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Kristi House Welcomes 10 New Board Members

Kristi House would not exist were it not for the dedication of volunteers serving on its board for the past nine years. Because strong leadership is synonymous with a strong organization, the nomination process must be thoughtful and deliberate for new appointments. These volunteers will shape Kristi House’s future.

Kristi House salutes Nominating Chair Andy Louis Charles for his work this past year and the excellent slate his leadership brought forth.

Welcome, to the following new members:

Perla Abramowitz
Sharon Abrams
Eduardo Arriola
Kimberly Cook
Kate Inman
Joy M. Intriago
Michele D. Morales
Monica L. Rodriguez
Steven J. Vainder
Chelsea M. Wilkerson

Background info on new Board members and on those continuing to serve on the Board

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Preparing Kids for Testifying in Court

Testifying in court isn’t easy for most at any age. Kristi House now has a resource created to make the process a little less intimidating and traumatic for children who have to take the stand.

"Kids Can Make A Difference," a nine-minute video and 24-page guidebook, takes children, their caregivers and advocates step-by-step through the court process so they know what to expect when they go to court. Created by high school student Jessica Novak (now at Boston College), this CD-ROM video is available in English, Spanish and Creole.

Kristi House is making it available to Child Advocacy Centers and other agencies that work with children who are involved in the judicial process. The Junior League of Miami has supported Kristi House with a Community Grant to help make the multilingual resource available for children throughout the country. Copies of the CD and guidebook are for sale on the Kristi House website.

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Jennifer AitchesonSTAFF SPOTLIGHT
Jennifer Aitcheson: A Zest for Work, Life

Jennifer Aitchenson has several philosophies of life, a variety that matches her diverse interests and talents. Jennifer is Kristi House’s Case Coordination Supervisor, a position that makes use of her ability to juggle variety on a daily basis – a variety of staff, clients and challenges. With a department of case managers, case coordinators, interns and support staff, Jennifer said her favorite part of the job is assisting, motivating and leading her team.

"I like to be able to assist case workers, give them ideas of best practices, and be there as a leader and motivator so they want to come to work every day.”

Jennifer knows her role well, having served as a case worker supervisor for more than a decade in Broward County with the Department of Children and Families. She holds a Master’s degree in organizational management and a Bachelor’s in social work. She spent her early professional years in finance and accounting positions while going to college. With this combination of social work, financial and management experience, her goal is to eventually run an agency.

She said she believes that the most important factors for a solid community-based organization like Kristi House is leadership, retention of good employees, and growth. Kristi House is well positioned in those arenas, she said, giving staff opportunity to grow with the organization.

"Once you have good leaders, you can project that onto your case workers," she said.

Jennifer was born in Jamaica and came to the U.S. when she was 20. After 13 years in New York, she relocated to South Florida and has been at home ever since. In her spare time she likes to paint – oil on canvas is her medium – and is currently working on a piece that explores child abuse trauma.

Along with art, other vital element’s in Jennifer’s world include music, "the food of life;" gardening; and home decorating. And, when the season and candidate are right, working on political campaigns is another favorite.

She says her biggest achievement in life are her two daughters, grown with families and children of their own. She says they’ve always helped keep her focused, as setting an example for them has always been paramount.

Jennifer, whose home is in Plantation, is a director on the board of her Kiwanis Club, the Lauderdale Eagles, and chairs its Public Relations Committee. She also likes to spend her time as a mentor for Take Stock In Kids program, working with teens.

In between it all, Jennifer finds time to write her autobiography, a memoirs of sorts, that she’s creating for her three grandsons and those in her family who will follow in the generations to come.

So, what are those favorite philosophies of life? "Live one day at a time." "Don’t sweat the small stuff...take life in stride."

And perhaps most importantly, "Life is not a dress rehearsal...we need to live every day to the fullest as we’re only here a short time."

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Young Volunteers

Regina MendaPacking Joy
Regina Menda is a one-woman operation, but her project, “Handing out Hope” touches hundreds of children. The senior at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School collected and assembled hundreds of holiday goody bags for Kristi House clients over the past year. She donated Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter goody bags. Clients love receiving these unexpected gifts that brighten their holidays!



Amy RothsteinSweet Treats
Amy Rothstein is the organizer of one of Kristi House’s tastiest traditions. Amy, a student at Ransom Everglades High School, is organizer of the Chocolate Chip Cookie bakers with Twenty Little Working Girls. Every other week, Amy delivers freshly baked chocolate chip cookies made by the girls of the service club. The cookies are favorite after snacks for our clients. Amy has pledged to continue this project in the fall.



Twenty Little Working Girls Support Education
Speaking of those outstanding Twenty: In addition to being Kristi House’s chocolate chip cookie angels, Twenty Little Working Girls made a grant award to Kristi House for Education and Outreach to schools. Their support has helped Kristi House expand the program into more schools this coming year. Thank you, girls, for your continuing dedication and love!

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Congratulations & Hats Off!

Ruthlyn WebsterRuthlyn Webster, Kristi House program director, won Fordham University's prestigious award for outstanding social work practice, the Ralph DeMayo Alumni Award from the Graduate School of Social Service.



Sydney Altfield




Hats off to Sydney Altfield, 12, who did a mitzvah for Kristi House clients: she took up a collection among her family and friends resulting in goods and financial support for Kristi House families in need. Thank you, Sydney!


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