Extraordinary Allies Natalie Morales, Yetter Coleman LLP Honored at CR Benefit

Paul and Patti Yetter.

Paul and Patti Yetter.

Hope in Action — that was the theme of Children’s Rights’ 11th Annual Benefit on October 18. The sentiment carried through the evening as honorees Paul Yetter of Yetter Coleman LLP and NBC’s Natalie Morales movingly described what fuels them to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable kids.

“Two decades ago, a report referred to young people in Texas foster care as ‘the children that even God has forgotten,’” said Yetter, who, along with his firm, was honored for extraordinary efforts in helping CR secure a landmark ruling on behalf of 12,000 children. “But not even this dire descriptor was enough to change the status quo. If CR and our team hadn’t stepped in to say ‘enough is enough,’ we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

As part of the TODAY Show’s “Pay It Forward” series, Morales interviewed three former foster youth — including benefit keynote speaker Steffanie Kramer — and created a Public Service Announcement for CR that has aired more than 18,000 times across the country. “This organization is near and dear to my heart,” said Morales. “Every single day, CR thinks of the hopes and dreams that are eluding so many of our kids, and takes decisive action to make them a reality.”

The tremendously successful event raised more than $920,000 to help CR continue its work to protect and defend the rights of abused and neglected children.

Kimberly Larson, Natalie Morales, Sara Bartosz, Steffanie Kramer.

Kimberly Larson, Natalie Morales, Sara Bartosz, Steffanie Kramer.

Those in the room and following on social media commemorated the evening with the hashtag #HopeInAction, a tagline inspired by the artwork of Harlem-based artist and attendee Ronald Draper. Other notable guests included Board Chair Megan Shattuck, benefit Co-Chairs Molly Gochman and Jay Galluzzo and former foster youth Kim Larson and Kristopher Sharp.

Several foster care alumni shared their stories with bravery and passion. Kramer recounted eight months of sexual abuse at the hands of a foster father. She then recalled how her fourth set of foster parents helped turn her life around. “Tonight I do not stand before you worth-less and abused … I stand before you wanted, chosen, loved and adopted,” she said to a standing ovation.

Read additional articles in Notes from the Field, the Children’s Rights Newsletter: http://www.childrensrights.org/publication/notes-from-the-field-fall-2016/