We are so excited to announce that Ken and Dot Conklin have received the well-deserved Lightning Community Hero Award for all of their dedication and hard work to the Guardian ad Litem Program in Hillsborough County. We can’t thank them enough for making a huge impact in our community!
On Tuesday January 3rd, Ken and Dot accepted this great honor at Amalie Arena, home to the Tampa Bay Lightning. They were able to celebrate with their family and take in a game. Thank you for making a difference and being a voice. True heroes indeed!
Tampa, Fla. (Tuesday, October 18, 2016) – The 13th Judicial Circuit Court’s facility dog, Tibet, walked down the red carpet with her handler Brenda Kocher for the premiere of her new dogumentary (documentary) film at the Tampa Theatre.
The “Dogumentary” tells the story of how former Voices for Children of Tampa Bay Director Betsy Smith and Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteer and handler Brenda Kocher were able to bring the Courthouse Facility Dog Program and the film’s star, Tibet, to the Hillsborough County 13th Judicial Circuit. With the success of the program, which began in 2014, they hope to expand and bring more facility dogs to courthouses around the state of Florida.
“Many of the films interview subjects are here in attendance,” said Ronna Kennedy, Executive Director of Voices for Children of Tampa Bay as the lobby of the historic theatre buzzed with excitement and conversations before the premiere. “Judges, attorneys and volunteers were among the many interviewed to bring this piece together and it is an honor to work with such passionate people who are making a difference in the lives of our children in need.”
Tibet is the first courthouse facility dog staffed in the state of Florida, yet there are over 30,000 children in the state of Florida’s dependency court system, with the majority having to testify without any support.
Judge Katherine G. Essrig from Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit said, “Tibet really is a miracle worker! When I have a case involving a child who has been the victim of a traumatic event and he or she walks into the courtroom – often that child is carrying Tibet’s’ leash.”
Essrig has served on the bench for 26 years and was one of the earliest supporters for bringing the program to the 13th Judicial Circuit Court. She spoke before the premiere of the film talking about her experience with testifying in court as a legal professional, and seeing children struggling to testify.
Brenda Kocher, Tibet’s Handler said, “I believe that VFC and GAL have set the bar in the state of Florida for other non-profits and other programs to provide this invaluable service to children.”
Both Kennedy and Kocher also spoke about their hopes to expand the program across the state of Florida after the film screening with Tibet by their side.
Tibet and Kocher volunteer full-time every week, yet with over 1,300 children in Hillsborough County who have to face the dependency court system, there is still much work left to do.
To help fund some of the cost, supporters are able to purchase a stuffed Tibet doll. When one is purchased, a matching Tibet doll is given to a child in the dependency court.
To learn more about how you can support the Voices for Children’s Courthouse Dog Program in Hillsborough county visit vfcgal.org/tibet or contact the Voices for Children office at (813) 275-9300.
Voices for Children will host our Third Annual River Rock Music Festival on Saturday, November 5, 2016 from 4-10PM at Tampa’s Water Works Park.
Enjoy great music and have fun, while you are helping us raise money to support the abused, neglected and abandoned children in Hillsborough County.
Water Works Park is located in downtown Tampa: 1710 N Highland Ave 33602. Visit www.riverrocktampa.com to get more information. It’s sure to be a great time – all for a worthwhile cause!
Thanks to Alan Abramowitz, Executive Director of the Florida Guardian ad Litem Office, who announced Voices for Children of Tampa Bay as this year’s winner of the Non-Profit Organization of the Year award. The Non-Profit Organization of the Year award is given to a 501(c)3 organization who consistently assists the Florida GAL Program in all aspects of advocacy, fundraising, and support for the benefit of the GAL Program’s mission and the children the GAL Program serves. Voices for Children of Tampa Bay has been an integral partner with the 13th Circuit GAL Program and exceeded expectations in fundraising and in supporting GAL volunteers.
our new logo for Voices for Children’s Courthouse Dog Program here in Hillsborough County! Thanks to our partners at HCP and Associates for making this a reality! Of course, thanks to Team Tibet for all of the hard work that you do!
A big Thank You to Hard Rock Cafe Tampa for hosting a slot tournament and concert to benefit Voices for Children.
The red carpet ceremony included Seminole Hard Rock Calendar Girl Miss February 2015 and local community members who support raising awareness and funds for Tampa Bay.
Following the red carpet and tournament, America’s Got Talent Season 9 contestant Justin Rhodes performed a public concert in the Hard Rock Cafe.
Voices for Children was presented with a check totaling the amount of funds raised for the month, along with a customized guitar signed by casino team members. We can’t thank you enough for all of your support.
Dr. Randy Feldman of Feldman Orthodontics was presented with a $50,000 check from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes Program. Dr. Feldman donated $10,000 to each of five local charities, which were close to his heart. Voices for Children was one of the five non-profits selected by Feldman, of which he is a Guardian ad Litem and a past Board Member. Betsy Smith, Executive Director, accepted the check on behalf of Voices for Children and all funds will provide support, and advocacy for the abused, neglected, and abandoned children in our community. Thank you Dr. Feldman! We appreciate your support!
We were thrilled to be selected to participate in the Gasparilla Parade this year! Many of you stopped by our beer garden tent at the parade to purchase a refreshing drink.
We can’t thank you enough!
Because of you, it was a huge success! Your support and tips will make it possible to provide personal, educational, medical and legal support that the state is incapable of providing to the children in its care. We couldn’t do it without you. We are hoping to be back out there in 2016.
Thank you for making a huge impact on a child’s life!