Second Annual Community and Network Awards

Family Services of Metro Orlando held its second annual Community and Network Awards ceremony on Tuesday, January 25, 2011.  Among the award recipients were the parents of a celebrity athlete, an international corporation and a former foster youth.  Among the award recipients:

Dwight, Sr. and Sheryl Howard, who hosted a weeklong series of inspirational afterschool activities with disadvantaged and foster youth.  They followed that success by spending their Christmas Eve with 30 of our foster youth and taking one lucky winner to Los Angeles to watch their famous son, Dwight Howard, Jr. and the Orlando Magic, play against the Lakers. Most recently, they partnered with their son’s foundation to provide support and mentorship to over 40 foster local teens through the 2010 Summer Enrichment Camp.

IKEA, which worked with Family Services to identify and develop opportunities to support the Heart Gallery of Metro Orlando.  In 2010, IKEA agreed to provide their signature home furnishings for a redesign of the gallery with a more home-like feel.  Since this new design was unveiled in September, it has received highly positive reviews while generating donations and offers of volunteer support.  In fact, the new Heart Gallery has generated more attention to children awaiting adoption in just six months than was received over the preceding four years.

Gerry Glynn, a tremendous advocate for our community’s children.  In addition to his long service as a volunteer attorney ad litem for foster youth, he recently worked with us to develop a community taskforce after a developmentally disabled former foster youth was murdered through a series of unfortunate circumstances and poor personal choices.  The taskforce developed a series of practical guidelines to better the chances developmentally disabled youth age out of foster care have at succeeding on their own.

Case managers, Arlene Cruz, Jessica Rodriguez and Michelle McMahon, for outstanding service to protect vulnerable children and strengthen families.  Arlene, Jessica and Michelle are from child welfare agencies Devereux Florida, One Hope United and Children’s Home Society, respectively.

Director of the case management program at Youth and Family Alternatives , Brigitte Brown, for creating innovative solutions leading to meaningful positive change in the lives of children and families.

Family support worker, Asim Bhatti, from Children’s Home Society who volunteers his personal time to transport foster children to visits with their family members.

Former foster youth, Ashtavia Maddox, who never lets personal challenges diminish her voice which she uses in advocacy for youth in foster care and those at risk of entering foster care.  Her leadership in advocacy on behalf of others exemplifies our belief that everyone can lead.

In fulfillment of our commitment to create a better world for our children, we now use a sustainable bamboo design from Eco Promotional Products for our award plaques.  Eco even planted a tree on our behalf.  This tree will remove about 50 pounds of pollution from the global atmosphere every year, helping to create a cleaner environment for our children.

We congratulate all awardees and nominees for their outstanding service to the children and families of Central Florida.  Photos of the awards and awardees can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fsmetroorlando/sets/72157625904464364/.

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