The Kind to Kids Foundation’s mission statement is “a future for every child.” And at their recent annual awards breakfast the organization took time to recognize the many contributions of individuals and business leaders that have helped make that aim a reality for thousands of local youngsters in need.
Wilmington Mayor Mike Purcyzki welcomed the hundreds in attendance reminding them of the importance of volunteerism. “Community is really more than roads and bridges. Community is the folks and our allies who work to make a better place for and care deeply about ourselves and our children.”
Keynote speaker U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester shared that her own family faced desperate times and lived on food stamps when she was little. She told guests she could personally identify with many of the children served by Kind to Kids. “A lot of times we take things for granted – a warm meal, a firm handshake, the comforts of home. But this program doesn’t take those things for granted. Today we need to recognize that we need to do what we can to become a part of the lives of these children so they can have a bright future.”
The Kind to Kids Foundation has grown from its core mission — serving children transitioning into foster care – to helping children and teens in poverty and in youth rehabilitation. Their LifeSkills education program includes decision-making and goal setting, job training, budgeting, study skills and violence prevention. The organization also helps collect and donate clothes and toys during the holidays.
As the enormous banner displayed inside the Gold Ballroom at the Hotel DuPont indicated, Kind to Kids has positively impacted 12,500 Delaware children in need since its inception in 2008.
Kind to Kids founder Caroline Jones awarded Regional President Nick Lambrow and M&T Bank with the Community Service Award. Larry Meli, president of the Delaware Blue Coats, received the Sports Humanitarian Award and told the audience, “When you lead your life through compassion, that’s when you change lives.”
Two longtime supporters of Kind to Kids, Lisa and Carl Georigi, owners of Platinum Dining Group, were at the Hotel DuPont volunteering until nearly midnight the night before the breakfast, tending to the many details that needed to be just right early on Monday morning when the first guests arrived. They have stuffed countless “blue duffle bags” for foster youth in transition, their business hosts toy and book drives every holiday season, and Lisa Georigi has previously chaired the Spring Celebration Awards. This year the Georigis were honored for their continuous efforts on behalf of the nonprofit organization. The Mayor presented the pair with the 2018 Business Impact Award.
Carl Georigi told guests, “When I look at that sign that says 12,500 children served, I wish it said zero. Lisa and I wish every child grew up in an ideal environment without fear of crime, poverty, or being torn apart from their families. We believe strongly in the mission of Kind to Kids to provide safe, stable foster homes for children in need, and it’s an honor to receive this award today. We feel blessed and fortunate to serve you and all of your volunteers.”
One student who feels fortunate to have intersected with Kind to Kids is former foster youth Rasheen Purnell. Three years ago, at the age of 15, Rasheen and his younger brother were placed in foster care, where life was far from easy. Over the next few years, he lived in three different homes and faced tempting situations that could have sidelined his ambition to attend college. Instead, he stayed focused, worked hard and became involved with several extracurricular groups at Appoquinimink School. He just graduated with honors.
In accepting the 2018 Rising Star Award, Purnell told guests, “I believe that life is made of choices. Choices can strengthen or weaken us. I made a choice to empower myself and remind myself that I am not a victim. I decided to persevere despite my circumstances.” Purnell will attend University of Delaware in the fall where he hopes to study chemical engineering or bio genetics.