Benefit Brings Compelling Stories to Light

Kasseem ‘Swizz Beatz’ Dean and Shaffer ‘Ne-Yo’ Smith

Kasseem ‘Swizz Beatz’ Dean and Shaffer ‘Ne-Yo’ Smith

Approximately 300 guests gathered for the Ninth Annual Children’s Rights Benefit on October 29 to honor several extraordinary individuals — human rights activist Molly Gochman, Grammy-Award winner and Compound Foundation founder Shaffer ‘Ne-Yo’ Smith and attorney Jared Bobrow of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP — whose efforts have made a difference for children in foster care.

“We see these kids as our children,” Sandy Santana, interim executive director of Children’s Rights, told the crowd. “Think of the rejection, abandonment and fear a 7-year-old child feels when he hears a knock on the door and is taken away from his parents … imagine that that 7-year-old never finds a forever family, turns 18 and has to face the world homeless and alone.”

Thanks to all who attended, the event raised more than $700,000 to help CR continue to expose and repair dangerous child welfare systems in states where thousands of lives are at stake. Other notable guests included producer Kasseem ‘Swizz Beatz’ Dean, CNN’s Michaela Pereira, former CEO of Ford Models Katie Ford and Edgar Carranza, a presenter who was once in foster care.

Keynote speaker Crystal Bentley gave a gripping account of her experience in foster care and eventual road to success.

“I lived in six abusive homes and temporary shelters. In some, I was beaten or verbally abused by foster parents. In others, I was molested by their children,” she bravely began. Bentley described an arduous path to rebuilding her life, which inspired a standing ovation. “My past is the best fuel to drive me forward, and I look at it from a different perspective: I am no longer a victim. I am victorious.”

See photos from the benefit on our Flickr Photostream:

Read additional articles in Notes from the Field, the Children’s Rights Newsletter: