Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers!

Posted September 9, 2010 by charleeprogram
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On Saturday, August 28th a group of forty-four students and community partners gathered at Tropical Park to volunteer at CHARLEE’s Annual Summer Picnic. This event would not have been possible without the dedication and generosity of these volunteers. Serving as game supervisors, frosty servers, and face painters Wendy’s, BankAtlantic, and University of Miami’s Orientation Outreach Volunteer group really made it possible for the entire CHARLEE Family to have a wonderful day together.

Volunteers at CHARLEE serve in a wide variety of capacities but this weekend they were really able to let loose and enjoy a hands on day with the children and families. It was evident to the staff, families, and friends that these volunteers were not there because they had to be, but because they genuinely wanted to. The CHARLEE children really benefit from these friendly interactions.

CHARLEE would like to recognize these forty-four individuals that selflessly dedicated their Saturday to ensuring that each summer picnic attendee had an amazing day! To receive all this unsolicited support is really something special and we can’t thank you enough! The event would not have been possible without the dedication and generosity from you all!

Back to School Supplies Needed

Posted August 22, 2010 by charleeprogram
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Attention all Donors:

CHARLEE wants to ensure that all our children have the appropriate supplies when the 2010-11 school year begins. While you are out shopping for your children this weekend think of a CHARLEE child and consider donating some school supplies, anything ranging from paper, binders, notebooks, pens, pencils, glue, and / or scissors. For your convenience Bank Atlantic has generously agreed to allow items to be dropped off at any of their Miami-Dade County branches from August 20, 2010 to September 3, 2010. 

Click here to see all Miami-Dade Bank Atlantic locations.

You can also drop your donation of at the CHARLEE Headquarters.

  1. Contact Public Relations Associate Leah Houston at or 305-779-9697 or 305-815-3047

155 South Miami Avenue, #700

Miami, FL 33130

CHARLEE’s Royal Caribbean Chat

Posted August 12, 2010 by charleeprogram
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CHARLEE wants to make an impact on YOU! CHARLEE’s Development staff recognizes that they are the marketing agents for the organization. Just like selling any product, we have to show you, that we are the best at providing a safe and hopeful future for our children. As a department we know that we are responsible for making an impact in order to secure our role as one of South Florida’s non-profit leaders. In order to do this, we host monthly CHARLEE Chats. CHARLEE Chat’s are one of the most exciting parts of our jobs. For those unfamiliar- A chat is an agency wide tour that gives the Development Department and the Board the opportunity to share with you- the guests- the accomplishments that we are so proud of. To have a career that is dedicated to helping others is something to smile about; but to be able to receive such a positive reaction from strangers when you do spread that joy with them is a remarkable feeling! Chat’s give us the opportunity to say “Hey, look what we did!” and not feel silly about it. We know that we are doing something amazing and if we can pass that joy on to just a few people, we will make a difference!

Yesterday, we hosted an amazing CHARLEE Chat and I believe that some chat attendees may have shared the joy and fulfillment we felt! Our exceptionally devoted Board Chair, Denise Minakowski ( Lead, Guest Safety Program) and Eric Valdes (Sr. Business Analyst – Sales) brought their Royal Caribbean staff to visit CHARLEE. What the guests did not know, is that for months we have been continuously tweaking and revising our Chats to ensure that we leave a lasting impression on each attendee. We are slowly mastering the art of combining our personal touch with an emotional pull that will leave the guests wanting to learn more. Through each chat we want to show you that CHARLEE is bringing something extraordinary to the table.

Thank you so much, Denise, Eric, Amy, TK, Kedy, Yvonne, Rodrigo and the rest of  the CHARLEE Chat Team for working so hard to show people dedication that has been the hallmark of CHARLEE since 1983!  


Posted July 8, 2010 by charleeprogram
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FREE Candlelight Community Class

with Joanne Barrett

Every Thursday 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM

*Donations received benefit CHARLEE Homes for Children

Experience the BENEFITS of yoga and GIVE to the community

9030 SW 72nd Ct.

Miami, FL 33156


Sun Post Article

Posted May 21, 2010 by charleeprogram
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May 19, 2010 | John Hood

CHARLEE is Saving South Florida, One Child at a Time

“You are in foster care because the State believes that you were not safe at home and that your parents need some time to learn how to take better care of you.”

So says The Foster Care Guide (for Kids) on a page headed “Why am I in foster care?” It’s the second entry in the handbook (right after “How long will I be in foster care?”), so the question is undoubtedly among a child’s most frequently asked. And if you picture, say, a six or seven or eight-year-old kid asking that question, you’re pretty much guaranteed to feel a break in your heart.

You’d feel likewise whether the child was five or fifteen. After all, it’s not the kid’s fault the “parents need some time to learn how to better take care of” them.

Even more heartbreaking perhaps is the handbook’s helpful “Words to Know.” There you’ll find definitions for terms like Case Plan, Child Placing Agency, Department of Children and Families, Guardian Ad Litem and Juvenile Court. Big terms. Bureaucratic terms. Scary terms. Terms that no child should ever have to learn.

But there’s no use hoping the day will come when children won’t ever again have to learn them, because as sure as the sun will set tonight, somewhere there’s a parent who can’t take care of their kid. They don’t necessarily have to bad parents – they could be mixed-up or out of work or simply too young to handle their charges. But whatever the reason, it’s generally the child who suffers most.

That’s why there are organizations such as CHARLEE Homes for Children. Outfits that not only place a child somewhere safe, but act as a safety net for the various falls a foster child is bound to endure in their young life.

One of those nets in fact is that handbook, which the good folks at CHARLEE keep on hand for any kids that happen to come their way. Put out by The Children’s Home Society of Florida, it provides a kid’s eye view of what could very well be a nightmare. And it’s just one of many steps – small, medium and large – that CHARLEE takes to ensure a kid never ever wakes up screaming.

CHARLEE, as you might suspect, is an acronym, and it stands for Children Have All Rights: Legal, Educational, Emotional. The organization was founded 27 years ago right here in Miami-Dade County “as a coordinated effort of the Junior League of Miami, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida. Word is it’s “based on a concept created by the Menninger Foundation,” who, according to their Wiki page, have “a vision of a better kind of medicine and a better kind of world.”

Walking through CHARLEE’S two floor, Downtown headquarters, one gets the impression that the Menningers aren’t the only ones looking toward a better world. From the front desk (which is handled by charming CHARLEE graduate Crystal Jones) to the in-house medical team (headed by Pam Goodman) there’s a small sea of people who see that the future can be in their hands. And if you were to stand on the shoulders of these giants, you too could see for miles.

That doing good view gets compounded when you meet the keen Kedy Augusten, another CHARLEE grad, who divides his time between HQ and Miami-Dade, where he’s learning the tech ropes that’ll keep him in good stead throughout the rest of his life. Augusten, a Haitian-American who’s quick of smile and bright of eyes, is a perfect example of the best kind of adult CHARLEE kids can grow up to be. Then again, he could be a feather in the cap of all humanity.

CHARLEE Development Coordinator Amy Pepe, who kindly gave SunPost the tour of the headquarters, estimates that 90% of their kids go on to some kind of continuing education. And it appears that when possible many of those kids find work right there at CHARLEE. That only makes sense when you consider that they know the business first hand.

But one doesn’t have to have been a CHARLEE kid to empathize and want to help the children. And everyone from Executive Assistant Leah Houston to Executive Director Suzy Schumer is alit with mission.

That sense of altruism is evident at each of CHARLEE’s 165 desks. And it’s especially evident at the desk of Adoptions Recruiter Ronald Mumford, who serves as a kind of community outreach specialist for folks thinking about navigating the waters of adoption.

“I go out to various civic organizations and churches and spread the word on the need for adoptive parents,” he says. “And I try to dispel some of the myths involved with adoption. For instance, people think you’ve got to be married or make a certain income or own your own home. You don’t.”

That’s not to say there isn’t a strict criterion for adoptive parents to abide by, and, to be sure the screening process is necessarily thorough. Then again would you want our town’s future leaders to have grown up under anything less? Of course you wouldn’t.

A similar criterion applies to the 100 licensed foster families that fall under CHARLEE’s domain, each of which get the benefit of the staff’s vast expertise. There’s a five kid limit, for instance, unless a set of siblings are involved, and one of CHARLEE’s 35 case workers visits each home with whatever frequency is needed.

But placing the kids is just the big picture stuff; CHARLEE also handles everything from clothing them (the in-house Depot) to granting them the vacation of their lives (at CHARLEE’s Buffalo Cove Outdoor Education Center in North Carolina). Then of course there’s counseling, the aforementioned medical (which includes dental and vision), and, for kids 13-17, an Independent Living Program, which prepares them for a life on their own.

Naturally none of this is cheap. And while the State does contribute, and folks like Oprah and Rosie have chipped in on occasion, and Grants Manager Christine Sainvil is a whiz of a writer, there’s never a day when more isn’t needed. To that end CHARLEE runs a plethora of fundraising activities, from CHARLEE Chats to the annual CHARLEE and the Chocolate Factory shindig. There are toy drives, and goods drives, and a Donor Relations Specialist named Margaret Perez who’s always on hand for those willing to give.

It can’t be easy growing up without one’s biological parents, but CHARLEE has proven that it can turn out for the best. All it takes is a little know-how, a lotta moxie, and a desire to make tomorrow just a little bit better for a child.

To Help: CHARLEE homes for Children needs your help.

For cash donations please go the their website

To Foster a child contact Contact Maria Zuniga in Supported Foster Care Staff at 305-779-9746 or email her at

To volunteer: Contact Human Resources to complete Volunteer Application process 305-779-9720 or go online

A wonderful story submitted by Ronald Mumford CHARLEE’s Adoptions Recruiter

Posted May 20, 2010 by charleeprogram
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I would like to share this story with you. Last year, my client John refused to attend a baseball game. After questioning this young man he told me that he had never been to a baseball game and thought it would be boring. I assured him that if he went to the stadium, he would have a good time. After several follow-up conversations with him, John finally agreed and went to his first game. On August 1, 2009, John went to see the Marlins and the Cubs play; this was his first baseball game. He was thrilled to visit umpire Wally Bell and Crew and to go onto the actual playing field to take pictures. John enjoyed himself so much that he requested to attend another game. I obliged and took John to attend his second Umps Care game on August 30, 2009. Host Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt and Crew were very engaging; all the children had a great time! This past Saturday, John and his prospective father attended the Umps Care game. Hats off to Umpires Jeff Nelson, Jeff Kellog, and Angel Campos for their hospitality; and for giving John and his guest another unforgettable experience. I am pleased to inform you that John is now playing baseball on a regular basis and in fact is an outfielder for his little league baseball team; the Aventura Phillies.
Thanks to the efforts of the Umps Care Program and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, this young man has been exposed to the game of baseball. This has proven to be a wonderful opportunity for children to be exposed to the game of baseball and for John another avenue for growth.

*The name and age of the child has been changed due to confidentiality

Giving Back Without Deep Pockets

Posted May 17, 2010 by charleeprogram
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Good deeds are contagious so CHARLEE hopes to infect you with the bug! I hope to inspire you to think outside the box in terms of donating. There are many ways to give without digging deep into your pockets.
Yesterday, I received a Google Alert notifying me that the name CHARLEE was being used in an article on the web. (Side note: Google Alert monitors the internet and notifies you every time your subject pops up- its great!) Upon this discovery I immediately searched for the source and saw it was Concordia Lutheran Preschool.
Since January, Concordia Lutheran has hosted different monthly activities in which students and parents are encouraged to participate. In January, they had a bake sale and a Diaper Drive; in February they sold flowers for Valentine’s Day and had Dollar Dress Up Day; in March they made and sold their own Easter baskets, and in April they had an Earth Day Bake Sale and round two of Dollar Dress Up Day. They are amazing and you can be just like them! Speak to your families, friends, and your children’s school to see if you can come up with a fun and easy way to help CHARLEE. A parent who is an ambassador for a good cause instills this desire to serve in their offspring. Be a CHARLEE ambassador and teach your children the importance of giving to others who are less fortunate. These random acts of kindness do not go unnoticed; notions like these mean so much to CHARLEE.


Posted April 14, 2010 by charleeprogram
Categories: Get Involved!, News + Updates, Our Supporters + Friends

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When I was given the task of being the social media queen of CHARLEE I was excited but intimidated. Being an 80’s baby does not mean that I was born with a social media chip implanted in my brain. I have recently researched all sorts of sites stating that social media is essential to the not-for-profit world. So I am going to jump into this frenzy head first.

Since it is CHARLEE’s first official blog in the past two years it is necessary to share our mission for this blog. Blogs are essentially an online journal with running commentary on a variety of subjects.

CHARLEE’s mission is to provide exceptional services to abused, abandoned, and neglected children. Through this blog CHARLEE hopes to provide you with updated and newsworthy information about CHARLEE, while also highlighting some of our CHARLEE clients by telling you, our constituency, their real life stories. We want to be able to keep you; the donors, volunteers, and staff abreast and engaged in all that is going on at CHARLEE. 

Due to the fact that the field of social work and child welfare is so unpredictable, the majority of bloggers will be from CHARLEE’s Development Department. Our Development Team will work with the  CHARLEE staff who work directly with the children day in and day out to gather stories of first hand experiences through the eyes of the client or the staff.  Blogging is an easy way to keep in contact with an entire network of people and CHARLEE hopes that you will support us in this new venture. We welcome all opinions and comments and can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Diapers and Drinks, Anyone?

Posted September 29, 2008 by charleeprogram
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It might be a strange combination – diapers and drinks – but Thursday night was proof that diapers and micro-brewed beers make for great company!  Titanic Brewing Company in Coral Gables hosted a fabulous event on September 25 where a box of diapers or a donation of $20 got you 2 free drinks and a wonderful gathering of CHARLEE friends and supporters!  A big Thank You goes to Jamie & Kevin Rusk for hosting this fabulous event at their even more fabulous pub and to our great volunteers, staff and most importantly, to those who came and supported this great night – we can’t thank you enough!   While you wait until the next Diapers and Drinks, have a look at some of the Kodak moments by clicking here!

Pantry Liquor Golf Tournament Does it Again!

Posted June 5, 2008 by charleeprogram
Categories: Events

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Going on it’s 12th year, Miami’s own Pantry Liquor presents their annual Charity Golf Tournament at the Miami Springs Golf Club and even our own CHARLEE staff got to leave their office cubicles for a nice, morning run on the golf course. We’re still awaiting on how much was raised for CHARLEE but regardless what the amount is, Pete Izguirre and the entire Pantry Liquor team deserves a huge round of applause for their tireless effort in their continual support for our children in care! Thanks, Pete! We can’t wait until next year! *** And if you’re wondering, CHARLEE Staff has some hidden Tiger Woods that were unleashed that day. Check out MIS Supervisor, Daniel Pena, hit a mean swing. Who knew that computer programming and golfing go together?

(From L to R) Daniel Pena (MIS Supervisor), Booker Rhodes (Adoptions Director), Walter Gonzalez (Board Member), Manny Matalon (Board Member)

“FORE!!!  Watch out for the bird!”

The great Pete Izguirre (on the far left) – founder and organizer of Pantry Liquor Golf Tournamet