Page 1


Volume No. 28 | Issue 1

in this issue:


Message from the Board Chair


The State of Foster Care in Southern California


Riverside County Program Update


“A DREAM doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes SWEAT, DETERMINATION, and HARD WORK. ” — GENERAL COLIN POWELL

CHAIR OF THE BOARD Dear Friends, As we enter a season of spring with its growth and new beginnings, we are filled with gratitude and celebration. We are grateful for the support we received during the holiday season that will allow us to serve more children this spring and summer. We are grateful for new opportunities to share the work of Voices for Children, and for new sources of support for the children we serve – from CASA volunteers to donors who are inspired to make a difference. And we are celebrating our President and CEO Sharon Lawrence’s 20 years of service. This December, donors Nicole and Todd Mikles offered a generous match, and you, our community, responded with an outpouring of support. With the funds raised, we are coming closer each day to our goals of recruiting, training, and supporting 1,500 Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers and serving more than 3,000 children in San Diego County in FY2016-2017. And we are doing even more to rapidly grow our CASA program in Riverside County.


Voices for Children transforms the lives of abused children by providing them with volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs). OUR VISION

Voices for Children believes that every child deserves a safe and permanent home, and to that end, will review and monitor every court file in the system, provide a CASA to every child in the foster care system who needs one, and advocate to improve the lives of foster children.

This spring, we are thrilled to partner with NBC 7 San Diego to share the CASA program with more San Diegans and inspire some to join our growing ranks of dedicated volunteers. So far this fiscal year, we have recruited and trained more than 200 new CASAs through our comprehensive training curriculum, Advocate University. All of this is supported through generous gifts from the community, including exciting new funding from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services through the U.S. Department of Justice, Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Victim Assistance Formula Grant Program. You can read more about each of these initiatives in the pages of this newsletter. None of these successes would have been possible without our devoted leader, Sharon Lawrence. Over the past 20 years, Sharon has taken Voices for Children from a fledgling nonprofit to one of the most successful and well-run organizations in San Diego. It is my honor to serve as Board Chair and work side-by-side with her, our dedicated staff and Board, and our caring CASAs. Thank you for your support and partnership as we continue to strive towards serving every child with the advocacy they deserve. With warm regards,

Jill Skrezyna Chair of the Board of Directors, FY2016-2017 Voices for Children


In January, we published our FY2015-2016 Impact Report detailing the successes and support from the past fiscal year. We invite you to celebrate with us and see how your gifts were used at at 2

Two Decades of Service: Sharon M. Lawrence Sharon M. Lawrence, Esq. became President/ CEO of Voices for Children on Monday, January 13, 1997. From her position as a gifted attorney litigating high-stakes medical malpractice lawsuits, Sharon arrived at a small, stillgrassroots human services agency serving 529 foster children with an operating budget of $400,000, a staff of eight, and 219 CASAs. There were serious financial challenges, and Sharon had to immediately hit the phones and schedule meetings with many individuals, knowing there would otherwise be a budget shortfall by June 30, 1997. In the 20 years since, Voices for Children’s budget grew to more than $6 million and, in 2015, expanded to oversee the CASA program in Riverside. Sharon brought not just legal rigor but intellectual rigor to the agency, insisting that everything court-related meet the same high standards of the civil litigation arena. She reviewed every CASA procedure and began to transform the training protocols. CASA recruitment became more systematized; and Sharon often wrote and always edited every grant proposal or document that went out of the office. She enticed former donors to return and persuaded potential new donors to step up and help children in need. Most of all, she inspired Board, staff, and volunteers by her dedication, extraordinary public speaking abilities, organizational skills, managerial acumen, and humility.

Her early philosophy of inclusiveness, teamwork, and generosity has continued for two decades, as Sharon led VFC to the position it now holds: the third largest CASA program in the U.S. and the largest in California and the West. This year, the staff of 75 will oversee 1,600 CASAs, together serving 3,200 foster children. In January, the Board of Directors and staff saluted Sharon for her 20 years of service, while proclamations and letters of commendation were received from Senator Dianne Feinstein, the entire San Diego Congressional delegation, the County of San Diego, the County of Riverside, and the City of San Diego. Her impact on VFC and this community is immeasurable, with 26,564 foster children served between 1997 and 2017. Thank you, Sharon!

“I continue to be engaged in this work because of this single fact: There are still more children who desperately need the lifechanging services that Voices for Children provides.” Sharon M. Lawrence, Esq.

CASE LIAISON PROGRAM TRANSFORMS SERVICE TO FOSTER CHILDREN In 2012, with a generous grant from Price Philanthropies, Voices for Children began testing early assignment of CASAs. The program evolved into the Case Liaison Program in FY2013-2014. This new model of advocacy, which allows staff to monitor and evaluate every foster child’s case as soon as they enter the dependency system and pair them with a CASA as soon as possible, was so transformational in its pilot that it has now expanded into our permanent operations. Beginning at Meadow Lark, the main dependency court in San Diego, Case Liaison professionals were stationed in courtrooms to evaluate and triage cases in real time. This presence allows us to identify every child’s needs and to assign trained CASAs as soon as possible, sometimes even before the judge declares a child a

dependent of the Court. This model is a radical advancement from the way VFC used to operate and the way other CASA programs across the U.S. operate. Previously, CASA matching didn’t happen until judges and attorneys made referrals, which could be years after the child first entered foster care. Today, a Voices for Children Case Liaison is assigned to each of the six dependency courtrooms in San Diego County. Our Case Liaisons are experts at identifying a child’s needs right away and are thus able to help them sooner and establish permanency more quickly. So far this fiscal year, the team has assessed 1,200 cases, allowing Voices for Children to monitor every child in San Diego’s dependency system and giving those children a far better chance at a brighter future.






CALIFORNIA FOSTER CARE 62,097 foster children

There are 949 CASA programs across the United States striving to meet the needs of a system in constant flux. With new children continuously coming into foster care and others exiting through reunification or permanent placements, organizations like Voices for Children, charged with serving their county’s foster children, are challenged to advocate for each child who deserves a voice.

UNITED STATES FOSTER CARE 415,129 foster children


KEY AREA OF NEED MORE SPANISH SPEAKING CASAS The largest ethnic group amongst foster children in San Diego and Riverside Counties is Hispanic/Latino (35%). When a child is taken away and put into foster care due to abuse or neglect, the court’s primary goal is to reunify them with their birth parents by providing a variety of requirements and services to improve the child’s home situation. In the case of Hispanic and Latino families, many parents, children, and even foster parents know Spanish as their first language, but the professionals working on the case are not always fluent. While parents and children may know some English, the ability to converse in their native language is invaluable for building trust, helping all involved feel understood, and ultimately to make healthy family reunification a possibility. Voices for Children currently has 137 CASAs who speak Spanish and utilize their skills to communicate effectively and advocate for the best interests of the children they serve. But we need more! On page 5, read about Elena, one of our multilingual CASAs.


While there is fluctuation throughout the year, these counts indicate a snapshot in time. Alternatively, there is data available showing the total number of kids served by the dependency system and CASA programs throughout the year. Source:

SAN BERNADINO COUNTY 4,869 foster children

DEMOGRAPHICS OF SERVICE for the Voices for Children CASA program


1% 11%

4% 4%



1% 2% 7% 17%






•Hispanic/Latino •Caucasian •Black/African American •Multi-racial •Asian/Pacific Islander •Native American •Other The above percentages may not add to 100% because some individuals identify in multiple categories.


LOS ANGELES COUNTY 20,651 foster children ORANGE COUNTY 2,389 foster children SAN DIEGO COUNTY 3,497 foster children

RIVERSIDE COUNTY 4,721 foster children

IMPERIAL COUNTY 362 foster children



All CASA programs in United States

949 76,756 volunteers



foster children served

60% of foster children in US

PROGRAMS throughout 49 states and the District of Columbia

All CASA programs in California

44 7,500 volunteers



foster children served

19% of foster children in CA

PROGRAMS throughout California

All CASA programs in Southern California

Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, and Imperial Counties






foster children served

15% of foster children in So. CA

PROGRAMS throughout So. California





21% of volunteers in all CASA programs in CA

2% of volunteers in all CASA programs in U.S.

ELENA COLLAVIN CASA Elena is a wife, mother of twins, full time employee and a dedicated CASA for three siblings in foster care. Born in a small town in the north east of Italy, she grew up in a very traditional family of modest means and strong social values. Elena and her brother were the first in their family to graduate from college. After graduating and working for a time, she went to England to pursue a master’s degree, returned to Italy to work at a university, and then went to Finland, where she obtained a Ph.D. in social psychology. She met her husband at a conference in Belgium, and the two moved to San Diego for his job as a professor of anthropology at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). She also taught for UCSD in communications, and now works as a licensing negotiator at Technicolor. Elena first learned about Voices for Children by listening to KPBS, and, after a year of hearing about the CASA program, signed up for an Information Session. Since then, she has been the advocate for a set of three siblings. Elena speaks Italian, English, Spanish, and a little bit of French, skills that have been helpful in her role as a CASA because the children, the birth mother, and the foster mother in her case are native Spanish speakers. The capacity to communicate with all parties involved in the foster care case using the language they can fully understand is incredibly valuable for building trust and breaking down barriers when working to improve the kids’ situations today, and advocate for their best interests long-term.

26% of volunteers in all CASA programs in CA 1.2% of volunteers in all CASA programs in U.S.

“This role does have a serious impact. You have the opportunity to dramatically alter the direction that someone’s life is taking.”

We are so grateful for each of our dedicated CASAs, just like Elena, who make a lasting difference in the lives of local foster children. If you speak Spanish and have considered becoming a CASA, we need you! Learn more by signing up for an Information Session at

– CASA Elena Collavin Source: U.S. stats: California stats: Southern California stats: CASA programs in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, and Imperial Counties





CASA Program Continues To Grow

Voices for Children’s Riverside County CASA program continues to grow thanks to the tremendous advocacy CASA volunteers provide. In October and November 2016, the Riverside County team hosted volunteer and community appreciation receptions in Riverside and Indian Wells to thank the volunteers, funders, and community leaders who have made the new program a success. CASAs and their case children welcomed the 2016 holiday season with a celebration at Bethune Park in Moreno Valley. The Cookie Wonderland booth imagined and brought to life by CASA Christi White was the talk of the party. Children received gift cards and books to take home to help make their season bright long after the party was over. A very special thanks to the RT Fields Bar Association, Portola Country Club Ladies Golf Association, and all who contributed to the Riverside County Children’s Assistance Fund during the holiday season. The Riverside County team was honored to host the Real Word panel’s first visit to the region on February 25 at the Murrieta Public Library.



CHILDREN served by


THANK YOU TO THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION Voices for Children is grateful to the public and private funders who have helped to lay the groundwork for the Riverside County program’s continued success. The Community Foundation has been a committed supporter of the Riverside County CASA program since its inception. Voices for Children received the foundation’s Community Impact Grant in 2015 and 2016 in addition to the prestigious S. L. Gimbel Foundation grant in October 2016. Through their generous support over the last two years, The Community Foundation has helped to ensure that children in Riverside County receive the unique advocacy only a CASA can provide.

Terry is just one of nearly 140 phenomenal CASAs serving foster children across Riverside County.

CASA Terry has served as an advocate for 11-year-old “Alexandra” since September 2015. Alexandra hasn’t been able to trust many of the adults in her life, but thanks to Terry, she now has an adult who is a constant presence. Terry’s dedication to her work shines in many areas of her advocacy, not least of which is the fact that she lives in Palm Desert and drives 50 miles each way to see Alexandra. She has worked hard to build relationships with the professionals on Alexandra’s case, including her teachers and the staff at her placement. For anyone considering becoming a CASA, Terry shared that it is a serious commitment, but that as much as she has given, she has received 100 percent back. Through their time together and knowing the challenges Alexandra faces, Terry describes this special foster child as “phenomenal.”


STELLAR SUPPORTERS Nicole and Todd Mikles are devoted to helping San Diego’s 5,000 foster children. IN FALL 2016, THE MIKLES OFFERED VOICES FOR CHILDREN A $100,000 CHALLENGE GRANT IF WE COULD RAISE AT LEAST THAT MUCH FROM OTHER DONORS. Following an extensive direct mail campaign and e-communications with a broad base of donors, the Challenge Campaign was a big success! A total of 310 San Diego families donated $171,291 to VFC by the end of 2016, thereby meeting the Mikles’ generous challenge. Combined, $271,291 was secured, and 110 boys and girls in foster care will now be matched with their own caring CASA volunteer. Todd Mikles is CEO of Sovereign Capital Management Group, and the couple have been major benefactors of Voices for Children, as well as many other worthy organizations. We are so grateful to the Mikles for their exceptional generosity, which will help Voices for Children meet its philanthropic goals this year, and ultimately, its goals of service to our community’s foster children. VFC has been proud to partner with MG Properties over the last two years. IN ADDITION TO BEING A VALUED SPONSOR OF OUR STARRY STARRY NIGHT GALA, MG PROPERTIES HAS PROVIDED GENEROUS GIFTS TO VFC THROUGH ITS EMPLOYEE GIVING CAMPAIGN. The company has matched its employee contributions and has raised tens of thousands of dollars for CASA programs throughout the state of California. VFC is also proud to have employees of MG Properties serving as volunteer CASAs in San Diego. MG Properties Group specializes in the acquisition, development, rehabilitation and management of apartment communities throughout the Western United States with a commitment to “Enriching Lives Through Better Communities.” VFC thanks MG Properties for also enriching the lives of our local children in foster care! VFC IS GRATEFUL TO OUR FRIENDS AT GELATO PARADISO FOR HOSTING A FUNDRAISER TO BENEFIT OUR CASA PROGRAM. In addition to contributing generous financial support, Gelato Paradiso also provided a delicious selection of gelato for hundreds of our foster children and their CASAs at the annual Holiday Party, making for a sweet afternoon. Special thanks to CASA Petra Cornelius for helping to form this new partnership with Gelato Paradiso through your outstanding service to VFC! For nearly 20 years, Gelato Paradiso’s mission has been to produce some of the finest gelatos and sorbettos in the world, building upon authentic Sicilian recipes that have been passed down through many generations. Please visit them at The Headquarters located adjacent to Seaport Village.

Grant Support Helps to Make Life Better for Foster Children The life-changing work of Voices for Children is made possible by many generous donors who share our compassion for abused, neglected, and abandoned children and the commitment to improve the quality of their lives. Major contributions to our CASA program have recently been provided by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Rolf Benirschke Legacy Foundation, S. Mark Taper Foundation, and the Walter J. and Betty C. Zable Foundation. We have also received extraordinary gifts from the Morrison & Foerster Foundation in support of our Case Liaison Program and the Livingston Family Foundation in support of our Learning to Succeed Program. Special thanks go to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors for the generous Neighborhood Reinvestment Program grant, which will fund a state-of-the-art security system for our corporate office. We are also grateful to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors for Community Enhancement Program funding in support of our marketing and volunteer recruitment campaign. Many thanks also go to recent donors to our Infants and Toddlers Program including the Samuel H. French & Katherine Weaver French Fund, In-N-Out Burger Foundation, and the C.J. & Dot Stafford Memorial Trust. We are honored by this outpouring of support. VFC’s CASA program in Riverside County is generously supported by the Riverside County Transportation Commission, The Community Foundation, David B. Gold Foundation, and the In-N-Out Burger Foundation. Special thanks go to the County of Riverside, the City of Moreno Valley, and the City of Riverside for Community Development Block Grants in FY2016-2017. We are also grateful for the generous Community Improvement Designation funding we have received at the recommendation of Supervisor Tavaglione (District 2), Supervisor Washington (District 3), and Supervisor Benoit (District 4). Thanks to all of this tremendous support, VFC’s CASA program in Riverside will positively impact hundreds of young lives.



Fun Without Faces

We often receive photos from our CASAs of their case child(ren) enjoying fun activities and sharing special memories. Due to confidentiality, we are unable to reveal our foster children’s faces or names. In fall 2014, two CASA volunteers created the idea behind “Fun Without Faces” – photos taken of case children from behind or over the shoulder. Now, we are able to share these wonderful photos with the larger VFC community. Clockwise, from top left: CASA Nynke and her case child took a recent trip to the San Diego Zoo; CASA Jennifer took her case child to Legoland to celebrate his 8th birthday; Two students who participate in our Learning to Succeed Program recently had the opportunity to go on college visits; volunteers helped make our holiday party a truly special event

COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS NBC 7 SAN DIEGO This spring tune in to NBC to see the newest Voices for Children PSA. Through a generous partnership with the station, Voices for Children will be featured as a community partner to help build awareness of the challenges faced by foster children and the need for more CASAs to support them. If you’ve considered becoming a CASA, but haven’t taken the leap yet, now is the time. Sign up for an Information Session at

CHAMPIONS FOR YOUTH Voices for Children is very grateful for a recent partnership with Champions for Youth and the Century Club of San Diego, a nonprofit whose mission is to support local youth programs by administering the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in January. VFC was fortunate to be one of 12 children’s charities selected to participate, and with the support of the tournament, we were able to raise $355,963 for our children and win $45,334 in bonus funds. Thank you to our friends at the Century Club and Farmers Insurance for helping our foster children and for investing in San Diego’s families, year after year! 8

WAYS TO GIVE Do you or someone you know have a car taking up valuable space in your driveway? Donate it to Voices for Children, and help foster children today! VFC has teamed up with Cars Inc. to handle all of the logistics and make it an easy process—we will even tow the vehicle at no cost to you. Best of all, you may receive get a tax write-off while supporting San Diego’s abused and neglected children. The average car donation provides a CASA for a foster child for an entire year, and vehicles do not have to be operational. For more information and to learn about other ways to give, please call Charlotte Agostinelli, Individual Giving Coordinator, at (858) 598-2222 or email



We are pleased to announce four new members to our Board for Fiscal Year 2016–2017. In addition, Jill Skrezyna was elected Chair of the Board, and her Executive Committee for FY2016-2017 includes Dave Bialis, Rochelle Bold, Ann Parode Dynes, Bill Sailer, Haeyoung Kong Tang, Ted Tchang, and Dale Yahnke.

Jill Skrezyna, Chair William B. Sailer, Esq., Vice Chair Ann Parode Dynes, Esq., Secretary Ted Tchang, Treasurer David Bialis, Past Chair Stephanie Bergsma Rochelle Bold, Esq. Annette Bradbury Nancy Banning Doyle Gina Ellis Holly Ellison Lisette Farrell P. Randolph Finch, Jr., Esq. AnneElise Goetz Jennifer Greenfield The Honorable Susan D. Huguenor (Ret) Richard Kintz, Esq. George Lai Kristen Livingston Jennifer O’Connell Dick Pfister, CAIA® Katie Sullivan Haeyoung Kong Tang Donald E. Willis Lise N. Wilson, Esq. Dale E. Yahnke, CFA, CFP® Lany Zikakis

ANNETTE BRADBURY is an active community volunteer who has served in executive capacities on a number of nonprofit boards of directors, including The Gillispie School in La Jolla, Las Patronas, The Bishop’s School, and the National League of Young Men, La Jolla Chapter. She has been a member of the Voices for Children Community Ambassadors Council and co-chaired its Starry Starry Night gala. She has focused her philanthropic and volunteer efforts on causes including animal welfare, children, civil rights and social action, disaster and humanitarian relief, education, human rights, and science and technology. Ms. Bradbury received her Bachelor of Pharmacy from London University and her Certificate in Clinical Trial Design & Management from UCSD. ANNEELISE GOETZ is a corporate transactional attorney at Higgs Fletcher & Mack LLC, specializing in real estate, finance, and health care law. She was recently recognized by the University of Wisconsin as a “Forward Under 40” recipient, received the San Diego Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” in 2015, and was acknowledged as the San Diego Daily Transcript’s “Young Attorney” in both 2011 and 2012. In addition to her traditional legal practice, Ms. Goetz also serves as an on-camera legal expert to national television shows. She is the past Chair of the Leadership Development Committee in Lawyers Club, is active in Run Women Run, and is a graduate of LEAD San Diego’s Impact program. She received a B.A. in Political Science from University of Wisconsin Madison and her J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Cleveland. KRISTEN LIVINGSTON is a supporter of CASA programs in Orange County and San Diego, and a member of the Board of the Livingston Family Foundation, a major funder of the Learning to Succeed program at Voices for Children. Her family founded Residential Wholesale Mortgage, Inc. (RWMI) in 1994, in Del Mar, California. The company, where Ms. Livingston is a loan officer, is a full-service community mortgage banker that originates, underwrites, funds, and sells residential mortgage notes on the secondary market. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, Finance, and Marketing. She has also been involved with Just in Time for Foster Youth. DON WILLIS is President of Eaglenest Ventures LLC, a strategic consulting firm. A longtime supporter and champion of CASA Programs, he served on the Board of CASA for Children (Miami County, Ohio). Mr. Willis is a former senior business executive with 30 years of experience leading Fortune 500 corporate strategy and planning organizations, as well as merger and acquisition transaction and integration teams. He has also worked for several U.S. government agencies, taught as associate professor at the USAF Academy, and served in various positions as a military officer. He was a NASA flight controller on the Apollo program. Currently, he serves on the Advisory Board of the Joan Kroc School of Peace and Justice at University of San Diego, and as a member of San Diego Downtown Rotary. Mr. Willis holds a M.Sc., Georgia Institute of Technology and a B.A., Aeronautics/Aviation and Mathematics, Miami University. Mr. Willis holds a M.Sc., Georgia Institute of Technology; and a B.A., Aeronautics/Aviation and Mathematics, Miami University.


Sharon M. Lawrence, Esq., President/CEO

COMMUNITY AMBASSADORS COUNCIL Lauree Sahba, Chair David E. Archambault Kathryn F. Ashworth, Esq. David Bruce Holly Bruce Vicky Carlson Mindy Fletcher Mark Gleiberman Patricia Hughes Craig A. Irving Dave Jackson Jimmy Janacek Yolanda Janacek Richard Kelley Marina Marrelli David Marino Patsy Marino Susan McClellan Eleanor Navarra Julian Parra Claire Reiss Sheryl Scarano Cecil H. Steppe Pamela S. Wygod




STARRY STARRY NIGHT 2016 On Saturday, September 24, 2016, more than 330 supporters of Voices for Children gathered at the San Diego Polo Club to celebrate a spectacular evening under the stars for our 14th annual Starry Starry Night gala. Chaired by Nancy and David Doyle, the event grossed more than $1.33 million dollars to support the life-changing work of our Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs). The net of $1,000,000 will ensure that more than 400 foster children receive caring one-on-one advocacy from their own CASA volunteer for an entire year. This year, Starry Starry Night honored the beauty of the ocean and the starry skies of the South Pacific. The evening’s cuisine was designed by noted chef and bespoke event stylist Andrew Spurgin and catered by Culinary Concepts, while event designer and producer, Janice Dodge, crafted a memorable experience under the stars. Snake Oil Cocktail Company’s specially curated cocktail menu perfectly accompanied the evening’s tropical theme. Guests had the opportunity to bid on once-in-a-lifetime experiences during the Live Auction, and then generously raised their paddles to directly Fund-ACASA. We are grateful for the guests’ outpouring of support! Starry Starry Night was a great success thanks to our many sponsors, including Morrison Foerster, the Farrell Family Foundation, Hughes Marino, George Lai, Qualcomm Incorporated, Cox Communications, Genentech, MG Properties Group, Mitchell International, The San Diego Foundation, Wells Fargo Advisors, Annette and Dan Bradbury, Katie and Dan Sullivan, Delta Airlines, KPBS, and L + L Printers. Underwriters included Holly and David Bruce, Patty Cohen, Culinary Concepts, Gigi Cramer, Janice Dodge, Inc., Teresa and Harry F. Hixon, Jr., Modern Luxury Magazine, Nordstrom, Procopio, Ranch & Coast Magazine, Sempra-SDG&E, Snake Oil Cocktail Co., and Andrew Spurgin, Ltd. Our sponsors’ generous contributions help to provide advocacy and hope to the foster children of San Diego County. Top to bottom (l-r): Gala co-chairs Nancy and David Doyle; George Lai and Chihua Chen; South Pacific dancers leading guests to dinner; VFC Board member Haeyoung Kong Tang and VFC Board Chair Jill Skrezyna; Steven Strauss and VFC Board member Lise Wilson; dinner under the stars; Becca Craig, Jenny Craig, and Michelle Weinger; Darin Boles and VFC President/CEO Sharon Lawrence with VFC Co-founder Kathryn Ashworth and The Hon. Thomas Ashworth III (Ret) Photos: Lowell Tindell Photography; Melissa Jacobs Photography

Save the date for Starry Starry Night 2017 on Saturday, September 9, 2017! 10

JUDGES’ LUNCHEON 2017 On February 6, Voices for Children held our annual Judges’ Luncheon for $1,000+ donors at the San Diego Central Library. We were honored to hear from The Honorable Sharon L. Kalemkiarian, San Diego Superior Court Judge, and Edward Velasquez, Interim Superintendent of San Diego County’s Office of Education, who each spoke about the state of education for foster children from their own unique perspectives. In addition, foster youth Alaysia shared how CASA Erin Pavelko has assisted in her educational success. In attendance were many of the County’s juvenile dependency court judges, who work so hard on behalf of the foster care system. Clockwise from top left (l-r): Special guest speakers: Edward Velasquez, The Hon. Sharon L. Kalemkiarian, Alaysia; David Dunn, VFC Board Chair Jill Skrezyna, Linda Dunn-Winkler; The Hon. Susan D. Huguenor (Ret.), The Hon. Jeffery B. Barton, The Hon. Kenneth J. Medel, The Hon. Sharon L. Kalemkiarian, The Hon. Laura J. Birkmeyer, The Hon. Marian F. Gaston Photos: Jonathan Ter Haar Photography

Upcoming Events



March 26 and 27, 2017

Canfield-Wright Estate in Del Mar

Private Club in La Jolla Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Voices for Children golf classic has been one of the most successful and widely attended charity golf events in San Diego County for a quarter-century. Co-chaired by Peter Farrell, Steven Strauss, and Dale Yahnke, this year’s tournament will be held at an exclusive, private club in La Jolla. The two-day event begins on Sunday, March 26, with the Fostering Hope Cocktail Party—an evening featuring cocktails, delicious hors d’oeuvres, and opportunities to win fabulous prizes. The party is open to everyone in the VFC community, not just golfers, so please join us! Individual tickets: $125. Players will return on Monday morning for an 18-hole tournament including lunch, cocktails, and an awards ceremony.

May 20, 2017 Join co-chairs Patricia Brutten and Marina Marrelli for an afternoon of fashion, fine wine, philanthropy, and friendship. Set against the backdrop of the gorgeous Canfield-Wright Estate in Del Mar, the afternoon garden party will feature a glamorous runway fashion show, premium wine tastings, delectable bites, designer shopping in the Fashion Marketplace, and an exciting live auction. Guests will enjoy “Key to the Closet” and “Wall of Wine” opportunities and compete for “Best in Shoe.” Be there. Be giving. Be fabulous! All proceeds support our mission to transform the lives of more than 5,000 children living in San Diego County foster care. For information about event sponsorships and tickets, please contact Sheila Owens at (858) 598-2261 or email




2851 Meadow Lark Drive San Diego, CA 92123

MARK YOUR CALENDAR! SAVE THE DATE Starry Starry Night September 9, 2017 Voices for Children’s signature event & one of San Diego’s most successful galas

INFORMATION SESSIONS Learn more about the CASA program and what it takes to become a CASA

SAN DIEGO Saturday, Apr. 8 | 10:00-11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Apr. 12 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. Friday, Apr. 21 | 12:00-1:30 p.m. Thursday, May 4 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. Friday, May 12 | 12:00-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 23 | 6:00-7:30 p.m.

RIVERSIDE Tuesday, Apr. 4 | 12:00-1:30 p.m. Palm Springs

REAL WORD SPEAKERS PANEL Current and former foster youth share their stories and answer your questions

SAN DIEGO Thursday, March 30 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. Central Library (330 Park Blvd, San Diego 92101) Thursday, April 20 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. Vista Branch Library (700 Eucalyptus Ave, Vista 92084)

Tuesday, Apr. 18 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. Riverside Tuesday, Apr. 25 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. Temecula Thursday, May 4 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. Riverside Saturday, May 20 | 12:00-1:30 p.m. Murrieta Wednesday, May 24 | 12:00-1:30 p.m. Palm Desert

Check out all our events and happenings on our website: WWW.SPEAKUPNOW.ORG/EVENT-CALENDAR/

Remembering Freya Gordon Voices for Children notes with great sadness the passing of Freya Gordon on January 19, 2017. Freya was a beloved member of the VFC staff since 2011, when she began her work as an Advocacy Supervisor. With her Juris Doctorate and her experience as an adoptive parent of children in foster care, Freya was uniquely qualified to support our CASAs. Later, she expanded her role at VFC and, in addition to being an Advocacy Supervisor, was our primary trainer for the Child Development class of Advocate University. She was an incredible teacher for our new CASAs while still serving as an Advocacy Supervisor for her group of wonderful CASAs. Freya is survived by her loving family: wife Charlotte, three sons Wolfgang, Jack, and Skylar, daughter Jade, grandson Declan, and her mother and brothers in England. She is also survived by her large circle of friends and her loving family at Voices for Children comprised of all our staff and the many CASA volunteers with whom she interacted. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Voices for Children, Urban Street Angels, Clearity Foundation, or Friends of Cats.

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