We are delighted to announce that Casa Valentina resident Kimberly Sandino has been recognized as a 2013 Rising Star by Sun Life Financial and the Miami Dolphins.

Kimberly received a scholarship of $5,000 to further her educational goals at a surprise ceremony at her school this afternoon.

Miami Dolphins players and cheerleaders, Sun Life representatives, Casa Valentina staff, Kimberly’s Guardian Ad Litem, and some of her siblings surprised Kim in the library at Miami Northwestern Senior High School, where she is a senior, for the check presentation.

In her application essay, Kimberly wrote about how she has overcome severe health issues, and how much she values the brothers and sisters who have supported her through her medical issues and time in foster care. She said: “Now that I have aged out of foster care, the roles have been reversed. I encourage them whenever life’s struggles have gotten the best of them: I’m the one that listens to them pour their heart out. I spend whatever time I can with them and counsel them so that they become strong, independent people and can be safe from as much trouble as they can be. I am involved in their lives and watch over them.”

Casa Valentina also received a generous grant from Sun Life Financial and the Dolphins. We will use these resources to support our work, and provide the best possible services to our residents.

Kimberly and Casa Valentina will be recognized at a special pre-game on-field ceremony and celebration at the Miami Dolphins game (vs. the San Diego Chargers) at Sun Life Stadium on November 17.

The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program provides financial resources to exceptional students and nonprofit organizations working to encourage underserved youth to stay in school. The program, now in its fourth year, also promotes the importance of higher education as a means to achieve lifelong financial wellness.

Sun Life awarded 16 Rising Star grants throughout the country, including four in South Florida. Casa Valentina was selected as the recipient from Miami-Dade County. Other South Florida winners include ChildNet, New Horizons of Southwest Florida and Urban Youth Impact.