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Save the Dates for 2 Heal a Heart Happy Hours!

Thursday, February 1 6-8 p.m.
Centro Restaurant & Lounge
1395 Brickell Avenue • $20 advance/$25 at door

Cocktail Reception with Guest of Honor State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle
Thursday, March 22 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Cielo Garden & Supperclub, 3390 Mary Street
Street of Mayfair, Coconut Grove • $20 advance/$25 at door

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Kristi House Wins Top Awards in State, Nation

Kristi House was awarded The Blue Foundation’s highest level of recognition, The Sapphire Award, for excellence in community health services. Kristi House was one of only three non-profit organizations in the state to win the $100,000 annual award given by The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida, the philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida.

“Recognition from The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida shows that we are breaking the silence on child sexual abuse and recognizing, as a society, that it is a public health issue many say is at epidemic proportions,” Kristi House Executive Director Trudy Novicki said. “Only when we all understand the scope of the problem and the facts surrounding it, will we be able to fulfill our vision of eradicating child sexual abuse in Miami-Dade.”

The Sapphire Award recognizes community health programs that have improved the health-related outcomes of Florida’s at-risk populations and communities. Programs are nominated by three persons familiar with the organization and are reviewed by an independent selection committee made up of medical, public health and health communication experts from across the country and Florida. The Acorn Clinic in Alachua County and The Bridge of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville were the other Sapphire awardees.

“The Sapphire Award recognizes Florida nonprofit organizations that have improved health care access and quality for at-risk populations,” said Susan Towler, executive director, The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida. “Kristi House has developed and sustained initiatives that build on community assets to foster systematic and positive changes in health care for South Florida. We are pleased to acknowledge Kristi House’s contributions to the health and well-being of the communities they serve.”

Also in December, Kristi House was awarded a $50,000 grant for its expansion program from the National Children’s Alliance, one of only two awards made in the country. The award was made after a competitive selection process among agencies with expansion plans to improve access for the communities they serve.

“These awards are extremely gratifying testaments to the effectiveness of the work of staff, board and other volunteers that make Kristi House a healing environment for children suffering from the trauma of sexual abuse.” Ms. Novicki said. “Over the 10 years Kristi House has been in existence, we’ve built our program around best practices models and have helped thousands of children recover and go on to lead healthy, productive lives.”

The funds will support Kristi House’s expansion plans in the south and north ends of Miami-Dade. Expansion at the main facility site is also being examined.

The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida is a separate, philanthropic affiliate of BCBSF incorporated in the state of Florida. The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida, and its parent, BCBSF, are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.

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Kristi House Expands Therapy Services

Therapy is a critical component to help children overcome the trauma of their abuse. Kristi House provides free mental health services for child-victims following best practices models, and usually has a waiting list to accommodate the growing numbers of those needing help. Most clients do not have insurance or Medicaid coverage for mental health services, and Kristi House is one of the few agencies in Miami-Dade that provides free therapy. Private foundation support has been key our ability to help those in greatest need.

In an effort to reduce the wait time to get into therapy and serve more children each year, the Kristi House Board of Directors charted a plan in 2006 to expand the capacity of its Therapy Department with satellite locations in the south and north. The plan calls for expanding from 120 clients served each year by Kristi House clinicians to 300 annually by 2009. And because the support of at least one parent, caregiver or caring adult is critical for a child’s recovery, Kristi House has expanded its scope of therapeutic services to include non-offending parents/caregivers.

The therapy expansion plan addresses the acute shortage of free services, and seeks to improve access for families in distant corners of our huge metropolis. Kristi House has recently opened its first satellite office with therapy services to treat children and their caregivers in the south part of Miami-Dade County.

Kristi House’s south location is at 152nd Avenue and U.S. 1, collocated in the offices of its partner, University of Miami Child Protection Team, which is charged by the State to provide forensic medical exams for all child abuse cases.

Kristi House has been fortunate this year to secure funding to cover the start-up capital costs of the south office, and to cover adding to our clinical staff more therapists qualified to work in the specialized area of child sexual abuse.

Kristi House extends special gratitude to the following for funding support toward therapy and the expansion initiative:

  • Peacock Foundation ($75,000)
  • Jim Moran Foundation ($63,000)
  • Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners & Commissioner Carlos Gimenez ($50,000)
  • State of Florida Community Budget Appropriation ($50,000)
  • National Children’s Alliance ($50,000)
  • Paul Palank Memorial Foundation ($20,000)
  • Carnival Foundation ($10,000)
  • Joseph H. and Florence A. Roblee Foundation ($10,000)
  • Twenty Little Working Girls ($5,000)
  • Plymouth Congregational Church ($5,000)
  • Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP (office furniture)
  • In addition, Kaufman, Rossin & Company, PA has “adopted” the south office for needed renovations, upgrades and enhancements, providing all the critical elements to create a child-friendly, safe and welcoming atmosphere for the families who visit.

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Margaret Nee Steps Into Board Leadership

Kristi House’s new Board of Directors President, Margaret Nee, took office in May, assuming the organization’s leadership from Judy McCleary (2004-2006). Kristi House had just celebrated its 10th birthday and begun strategic planning pointing toward the next decade of service. At this juncture of growth for Kristi House, Margaret brings a combination of business and non-profit leadership experience combined with a deep-rooted commitment to volunteerism and community service. She is already leading an active year for the board as it evaluates new ways to better meet the needs of the community.

“I first became involved with Kristi House through a Junior League project,” Margaret said. “I thought the work of the agency was outstanding, but I didn’t have the time back then to get as deeply involved as I wanted to.”

Since then, Margaret joined the Kristi House Board. Last year she chaired Kristi House’s signature fundraiser, the Touch A Heart Dinner & Auction, while serving as vice president and as a member of several committees, including the Program Committee. Margaret has acquired a deeper understanding of Kristi House through hands-on involvement such as serving as a Kristi House Ambassador on Thursday afternoons sharing time with children waiting for appointments.

Margaret has also served on the board of the Junior League of Miami, the board of Pet Rescue, and as a Special Olympics volunteer and event chair (in NYC). Currently she sits on the board of Access Now, a group dedicated to access for the disabled, is a member of the mentors’ committee at the Girls Advocacy Project (which regularly visits and assists girls incarcerated to make better choices upon release), and is an active eBuddy.

Margaret divides her time among her job as vice president of a holding company with real estate and oversees investments, her three “rescued” dogs, her husband Fredric, her needlepoint and book clubs, dining groups, friends and other organizations.

When asked what motivates her, Margaret shares when she recognized that volunteering was fundamental for her: “There were several periods in my late father’s life — a life-long, dedicated volunteer — when he was very ill. When he recovered, he always went right back to being a volunteer, so I continue his example knowing how important it is to give back. One thing, he always made it fun for himself and others — and I try to do the same, and hope he would be proud of me and my work.”

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Measuring Success

Kristi House measures its success in delivering services through a number of means including client satisfaction surveys, pre- and post- psychological assessment tools, focus groups and client tracking over time.

The State of Florida Department of Children and Families released findings in June 2006 for a Consumer Satisfaction Survey in which Kristi House and 13 other Miami-Dade agency clients were queried after completion of services. Kristi House received high or the highest scores on most of the measures and was the only agency that was ranked affirmative by 100% of its clients when asked: “Would you recommend this program to others?”

In the past year, in addition to The Sapphire Award (see cover story) Kristi House and its professional staff have received recognition for excellence from outside entities for accomplishments. Kristi House’s Executive Director, Trudy Novicki, was awarded a scholarship to attend Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program in July 2006, and Assistant Executive Director Dawn Thompson received The Rochelle Goodwin Memorial Award in April 2006 for outstanding contributions in direct service to child victims.

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Supporters Heal a Heart at The Sports Club/LA

The Sports Club/LA and Escopazzo Express co-sponsored a Heal A Heart Happy Hour in August that netted an amazing $20,000 for Kristi House client emergency needs. Organized by Kristi House’s Outreach Coordinator Maria Clara Rodriguez, the event attracted 300+ attendees who danced the night away to the music of DJ Mark Leventhal. Special thanks goes to Pino Bodoni of Escopazzo Express for his generosity; Marco Uperi of Old Bridge, Inc. who provided the wine; and Susan Devine, Caroline Appel and staff of The Sports Club/LA Miami. The event was a great success and brought Kristi House many new friends.

TOP PHOTO: Attorney Nathan Diamond and State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
BOTTOM PHOTO: Kristi House's Assistant Executive Director Dawn Thompson, event eorganizer Maria Clara Rodriguez and donor Pino Bodini.

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Office Depot Sends 'em Packin'

Office Depot once again came through for Kristi House kids heading back to school with a donation of 150 backpacks this past fall. Shown left are Office Depot executives with Kristi House’s Lauren Diamond and Etain Connor.

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Board Founders Honored for Decade of Service

Nine founding board members who have each given 10 years of volunteer service were honored at Kristi House’s 10th Anniversary Party in April. In a hands-on activity complete with wet plaster, each board member made a Hollywood Boulevard-style cast of their hand. These hands adorn the walls of Kristi House to symbolize those that built and sustain the center, and have forever left their imprint.

Those dedicated volunteers marking a full decade of service (pictured here) are Julia Rea Bianchi, Berta Blecke, Gary Jackson, Chuck Vodicka, Jimmy Ellison, Dr. Jon Shaw, Carol Novak and Angie Mahy. Dr. Susan Dandes, not pictured, was also honored and continues to serve on the Kristi House board.

Kristi House extends its gratitude to Anwar Zayden of Art Express custom framing at 12022 North Kendall Drive for his support of this recognition program and 100% underwriting of the framed tributes.

PHOTO: Second Vice President Chelsea Wilkerson assists Julia Bianchi with her imprint as Angie Mahy looks on.

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Nine New Members Bring Experience, Offer Service

President Margaret Nee welcomed new board members over the summer at their orientation: “The board’s role in the leadership, growth and development of Kristi House will be strongly enhanced by the performance our new members,” Ms. Nee said. “Their fresh insights and enthusiasm are a stimulant for all of us as we work our way through the year.”

Frederick W. Bredemeyer, II, is Deputy Director for Operations for Miami Parking Authority where he oversees all facets of the authority’s on-street and off-street parking operations which includes 22,000 parking spaces and 60+ parking facilities. Mr. Bredemeyer is a parking industry veteran with more than 18 years of experience and is a graduate of Florida International University.

Jodi Dickinson joined the Board of Directors and Kristi House's Touch A Heart Dinner & Auction Committee as the event’s Auction Chair. Ms. Dickinson planted the seeds for record-breaking success November 10, 2006, with an array of fabulous cruise and wine donations. Ms. Dickinson is a gourmet cook, especially known for her superb multi-course dinners paired with fine wines by her husband, Bob Dickinson, a wine aficionado and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines.

Bobbie Jones-Wilfork, Assistant Aviation Director for Administration at the Miami-Dade Aviation Department has management oversight responsibility for several divisions: Administrative Services/Employee Development, Information Systems, Technical Support, Commodities Management and Contracts Administration. Ms. Jones-Wilfork is a graduate of FSU and holds a Bachelor’s in Government and a Master’s in Public Administration. Ms. Jones-Wilfork is President of Dade County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a public service sorority, and a Board Member of Family Christian Assn. of America and the Haitian Heritage Museum.

Tricia LeClair, Child Advocate, has been involved with Kristi House for five years prior to joining the Board of Directors. Ms. LeClair and other generous volunteers founded the Annual Children’s Holiday party five years ago. Each year since then they have planned, hosted and arranged all the underwriting for this event, which is now a holiday tradition for Kristi House families (see article on this year’s party on page 11). Ms. LeClair holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from Virginia Tech. She and her husband enjoy boating and spending many weekends on excursions to the Everglades.

Marilen Marnett is a partner in the law firm of Landa-Posada & Marnett, P.A., based in Coral Gables. Ms. Marnett practices real estate law, including commercial and residential closings, foreclosures, and landlord and tenant matters. Ms. Marnett holds her Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law where she also received her undergraduate degree in Communications.

Adriana Molina, Mother, Art Instructor and Child Advocate, has served on the Kristi House Program Committee since 2005. A native of Colombia, she and her family moved to Miami four years ago. Professionally, Ms. Molina has developed an expertise in personalized customer service in the real estate and fashion industries, and is an associate with Saks Fifth Avenue in the Wedding Department. She also operates an art studio for children, located in Key Biscayne.

Gail Scott, is Sales Manager for Tribune Media Net. For the past 10 years she has been active in the Junior League of Miami, serving as Vice President of Development and Vice President of Planning, as well as chairing several of the Junior League’s largest fundraisers and community efforts. Ms. Scott graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism.

Sarah J. Washburn is an Insurance Agent at Wilson, Washburn and Forster Insurance, a Miami-based independent agency. Ms. Washburn graduated from FSU with a Bachelor's in Business Communications and a Master's in Marketing. After graduation, she worked at General Motors in global sales and marketing but returned home to Miami to join the family business. Ms. Washburn currently enjoys the challenges of helping community businesses with all their insurance needs, with a focus on helping those in non-profits.

Antonio Zamora, CPA, is a Certified Public Accountant with Kaufman, Rossin & Company, P.A. in Miami. Mr. Zamora manages all aspects of client accounts and has 11 years of experience in the accounting profession in Miami. Mr. Zamora holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and a Master of Science in Taxation from Florida International University.

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More Support

Mary Lynch, founding supporter and past board member, with Etain Connor, Development Officer, who joined Kristi House in August 2006. Mary has underwritten new patio furniture for Kristi House’s inside atriums.

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Reaching Out

Kristi House’s Hispanic Community Development Coordinator Bianca Fernandez tells listeners of “La Poderosa” (WWFE 670 AM) about Kristi House on Rhyna Moldes’ radio show, “Actualidades” in December. This appearance, along with a series of events in the works focusing on Miami’s Hispanic community, will help build awareness of child sexual abuse and how it impacts all communities, across all socio-economic lines.

Touch A Heart Dinner Sells Out and Raises Record Proceeds

The 7th Annual Kristi House Touch a Heart Dinner & Auction co-chaired by Julia Bianchi and Diane de Olazarra was a sold-out success netting $320,000 on November 10th at Miami’s Four Seasons Hotel. Outstanding sponsors, 300 guests and an auction of exquisite wines, unique gifts and exclusive getaways, made this a spectacular fundraising evening in support of children who have been victimized by sexual abuse.

Hundreds of votive candles, white roses and hydrangeas — donated by Fresh Market and Dole Fresh Flowers and arranged by Layne Tidwell — greeted guests with an ambiance of sparkling, understated elegance, perfect for the five-course gourmet meal and wine pairings. National Distributing Company, which debuted its new “Pink” champagne, and Ravenswood Vineyard were the Dinner’s Wine Sponsors. Mike Bittel of Sunset Fine Wine & Spirits served as the event’s wine expert, aided by Christopher Zoller in describing the auction’s wine lots.

Diane and Allen de Olazarra and the de Olazarra Family Foundation were the Honorary Chairs for the event. The Batchelor Foundation made a generous grant for case management and therapy services. Gold dinner sponsors included Trish & Dan Bell; Nancy & Robert Hector, Jr.; Northern Trust; and Lydia & Rudy Prio Touzet. Montica Jewelry supplied guest gifts.

7th Annual Kristi House Touch a Heart Dinner & Auction Photo Gallery

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Extra Holiday Help Spread Cheer to Families in Need

Kristi House children received wonderful toys, clothing and other gifts over the holidays thanks to the generosity of several individuals and groups who organized toy drives and other giving programs on behalf of our clients. This support was especially helpful during the holidays, which can present particularly challenging times for families torn apart by child sexual abuse.

Kristi House extends its sincere gratitude to the following who truly demonstrated the spirit of giving:

• Jeanette D. Rubio, who fulfilled the wish lists of 10 Kristi House children as part of her community-wide toy drive.

• Regina Menda, made her wonderful goodie bags for more than 100 children and collected donations for Kristi House (again!) for the holidays.We salute Regina for her dedication, and her recent Silver Knight nomination…a well-deserved honor!

Dozens of cuddly, brown Teddy Bears went to children at Kristi House thanks to the generosity of Family Christian Stores.

• Coral Gables Juniorettes bought and assembled sweet treat packages for dozens of Kristi House kids. (Left: Lauren Fernandez and Andrea Callahan)

Community activist and realtor extraordinaire Jeannett Slesnick organized a book drive for several nonprofits in Miami serving kids in need, including Kristi House.

For four years in a row the University of Miami Department of Management in the School of Business has collected toys among the office administrators and professors. This year’s drive, arranged by Department Chair Dr. Linda L. Neider, made the holidays brighter for many children and families. (Left: Susan Wills, Joshua Wu, Ling Wang, Chet Schriesheim, Terri Scandura, Sheryl Alonso, Linda Neider, Dean Paul Sugrue, Vaidy Jayaraman and Marc Junkunc)

UM has another generous soul in Randi Spector, representing the Canes Angels, who collected a huge amount of toys for Kristi House kids. (Left: Randi Spector)

• Dr. Raysa Richardson, FIU University Health Service Center, “adopted” a Kristi House family in need with toys, gift cards and clothing for Mom and her two daughters and one son ranging from 4 months to 4 years old.

Summit Education Group # FL139 and group leader Renita Allaman raised funds and awareness for Kristi House as the holiday kick-off to a new, continuing partnership.

Thanks to Cole, Scott & Kissane for their holiday card program donation.

Staff wrapped holiday gifts at Barnes & Noble in Coral Gables to raise donations and awareness of Kristi House. (Right: Michelle Hernandez and Stephanie Mayoliz)

Special thanks to another new friend of Kristi House, Pam Mekras, of the Miami Dance Project, who donated 50 Beenie Babies to Kristi House kids. Thanks to son Deme Mekras, too! ™

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Holiday Party for Kristi House Kids Made the Season Special

Clients and families enjoyed holiday festivities at the annual Kristi House party hosted in their honor by volunteers. Tricia LeClair and Leana Marks planned and hosted another special evening this year filled with activities, music, Santa Claus, food and fun for all. Held at the Betty Boo Party Place in central Miami-Dade, the location was perfect for kids of all ages to enjoy holiday fun and games. (Left: Tricia LeClair, Board President Margaret Nee and Leana Marks)

In addition to raising supporting funds and tapping their own resources for this special night, Leana and Tricia secured other underwriters and personally selected and wrapped new presents for every child to take home.

Special thanks also goes to the following additional underwriters of the party:

  • Eduardo Arriola
  • Sharon Abrams
  • Jeannie Barry
  • Staff of Bierman, Shohat & Loewy, PA
  • Orencio Cardenas
  • Ed Carrera
  • Stephanie Demos
  • Staff of Humberto R. Dominguez, PA
  • Lourdes & Al Dosal
  • Lauren Licata
  • Michele Morales
  • Carol Novak
  • Darl & John Reynolds
  • Dr. Zandra Rucker
  • Richard & Nancy White
  • Bobbie Jones-Wilfork
  • George Whitman III

Members of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority decorated Kristi House for Halloween and hosted Kristi House’s annual Halloween party complete with costumes, games,
and of course, candy.

Volunteers at their appreciation luncheon in April.
L to R: Volunteer Coordinator Lauren Diamond, Lydia Earl, Regina Menda, Lin Bentolila, Ruth Balestra, Lorrie Mitchell, Deanne Courshon
and Susan Ramirez. Dawn Thompson and
Trudy Novicki seated.

Kristi House children got a lot of fuzzy hugs and lessons in pet care at the Humane Society of Greater Miami through a special program to teach children about responsibility and love for animals. Kristi House is also now an approved Pet Therapy Partner with the Humane Society. If a dog owner is interested in participating they must have their pet take the Canine Good Citizen test (and pass it) at the Humane Society. The fee is $10. Then they will be covered with the appropriate insurance and can come to Kristi House at a time convenient to them and their pet. The contact at the Humane Society is Sahily Picon, Volunteer Coordinator.

Friends and staff of Kristi House attended the November “Via 55” Happy Hour held in the Tarpon Bend Breezeway on Miracle Mile. Kristi House was the charity of choice for the monthly event, earning proceeds from the evening.

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Breaking the Silence...

Ending Child Sexual Abuse
Breaking the Silence is Kristi House’s new program to forever end the silence on child sexual abuse in our community. Core to this effort is building awareness of Kristi House and the staggering statistic that child molesters are not strangers; in more than 90% of sexual abuse cases, the child and the child’s family know and trust the abuser. And further, one out of four girls and one out of six boys are sexually abused by the age of 18. In seconds, their childhoods are shattered, their innocence stolen forever. Worse still, the effects haunt them for years, increasing the likelihood of drug and alcohol dependency, eating disorders, teen pregnancy, delinquency, violent crime and debilitating fear.

Kristi House is hosting a series of facility tours and informational sessions to acquaint those with the concern and the capacity to help with this new awareness crusade. If you are interested in being part of this drive, please contact Development Officer Etain Connor or call (305) 547-6802.

Keeping Children Safe
Part of Kristi House’s initiative is based on the Darkness to Light organization’s Stewards of Children program which is a revolutionary prevention training program developed to educate adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. The program seeks to equip and empower adults to keep children safe.

The Stewards of Children program is particularly effective for youth-serving organizations, and Kristi House specialists have been trained in delivering the training to others in South Florida. Consider, the damage of child sexual abuse does not end with the child, or even the child’s family. Child molesters are drawn to organizations that serve youth. When this happens, the costs are enormous with children hurt, the organization’s reputation tarnished and potential devastating financial loss. For more information on the training program, please contact Dawn Thompson or call (305) 547-6800.

...key to eradicating child sexual abuse in Miami.

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