2015 Be A Voice, Feel The Passion Gala

Benefiting Voices For Children Foundation as it celebrates 30 years of Being A Voice

Voices For Children’s 2015 Humanitarian Award recipients Jeff and Yolanda Berkowitz

Voices For Children Foundation, a Miami not-for-profit organization advocating for children in foster care, and Presenting Sponsor Harry Winston, Inc., the international fine jeweler and watchmaker, served as hosts to approximately 500 of Miami’s most influential and philanthropic individuals for the organization’s 30th anniversary “Be A Voice, Feel The Passion” gala. The premier annual fundraising event, which this year raised over $800,000 – the highest amount Voices For Children Foundation has raised at a gala – kicked off with a cocktail hour on Saturday, January 17, at host sponsor Mandarin Oriental, Miami. Film and television actor Christian Slater and his wife Brittany Slater served as honorary co-chairs, while WSVN’S Belkys Nerey was the evening’s emcee. $179,000 was raised in donations to the Angel Society, the organization’s annual giving program – also a historic high for the organization.

Voices For Children Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that raises funds to help ensure that abused, abandoned and neglected children in the Miami-Dade County foster care system each have a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem and that financial assistance and other resources are available for their health, educational and social needs.

Chair of Board of Directors Blain Heckaman and Gala Co-Chair Jill Heckaman

During the gala, Miami power couple and longtime Voices For Children Foundation supporters Jeff and Yolanda Berkowitz were presented with the organization’s 2015 Humanitarian Award for their advocacy on behalf of the organization and the foster children it serves. “When I became a Guardian ad Litem in 1995, our lives became bigger and it enhanced our humanity through our involvement with the Guardian ad Litem Program and Voices,” said Yolanda Berkowitz after receiving the evening’s award.

In addition to the Berkowitzes, other notable guests included: Brandy Coletta and Richard Fields, Laura Dowling; Jim Ferraro; Florida Senator Rene Garcia; Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and wife Lourdes Gimenez; Adam and Lisa Koffler; Judge Cyndi Lederman; Judge Bronwyn Miller; Leyla Portela; Judge Migna Sanchez-Llorens; Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and wife Teresa Sarnoff; and Honorary Co-Chairs Brittany and Christian Slater.

Irene Pariserband, Swanee DiMare, Judge Bronwyn Miller and Carol Surowiec

Guests at the gala enjoyed cocktails courtesy of GREY GOOSE Vodka as well as wine and cava provided by Wine Sponsor Cava Spiliadis, the North American importer of premium wines from Greece. Guests also enjoyed dinner and entertainment, and heard testimonials from beneficiaries of Voices For Children Foundation.

Entertainment at the gala featured a special performance by dance phenomenon Charles “Lil’ Buck” Riley, a Los Angeles-based dancer from Memphis, Tennessee, who specializes in a style of street dance called jookin’. Buck has performed with world-renowned violinist Yo-Yo Ma and toured with Madonna on her MDNA tour. “I found myself here sharing my mind with such an amazing group of people whose energy is so compelling, it shined through my performance and made this experience one of my most memorable,” Riley said. During dinner, guests were entertained by New York’s DJ Kucha, and Grupo Vitamina from Venezuela.

Throughout the evening, guests were given the opportunity to preview Harry Winston’s latest high jewelry collection, Secrets by Harry Winston. Guests also participated in live and silent auctions for luxury goods and travel experiences, providing desirable and unique items for guests and supporters. Auction items included tickets to Stella McCartney’s Spring 2016 Presentation in New York, exclusive membership to The Edition Beach Club, private catered dinner from Thierry’s Catering, the opportunity to drive a Tesla Model S for a day, and a private shopping spree at Ralph Lauren Bal Harbour, as well as a Dior handbag and private shopping experience and champagne lunch for six lucky individuals.

This year, the gala partnered with RedCap to provide guests safe rides to and from the events in the guests’ own cars.

Chaired by Jill and Blain Heckaman (also Chairman of Voices For Children’s Board of Directors), the gala was made possible by Presenting Sponsor Harry Winston, Inc.; Golden Fan Guardian sponsors Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP., Jeff and Yolanda Berkowitz, and Coastal Tishman; Dynasty Guardian sponsors Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors and Accountants, Jim Ferraro, Kaufman Rossin & Co., P.A., Paul and Swanee Dimare, and Swire Properties, Inc.; and Tai Pan Guardian sponsors Appelrouth Farah & Co., P.A., Ruby Bacardi, Trish and Dan Bell, BenTrust Insurance Group, Citi Private Bank, FirstService Residential, Roberto and Nicole Gadala-Maria, HSBC, John Moriarty & Associates of Florida, Inc., Roberto Isaias, KPMG, Medina Family Foundation, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Jay and Susan Shapiro, Soloman Family Foundation, Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A.and Total Bank. Gala media sponsors include Haute Living Magazine, South Florida Luxury Guide Magazine, and Selecta Magazine. Gala media partners include Brickell Magazine and Key Biscayne Magazine. The public relations sponsor is Roar Media.

To learn more about underwriting opportunities and sponsorships for next year’s gala, please call (786) 469-3861 or email TRodriguez@BeAVoice.org.

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