MIAMI – Nearly 120 people were honored by Commissioner Barbara Jordan and the Miami-Dade County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association in the Miami- Dade County Commission Chamber recently. The Foster, Adoptive, Kinship and Independent Living Commemorative Ceremony paid homage to men and women who care for and protect those children who are in the state’s system, as well as young adults transitioning from foster care to adulthood.

“I’m very proud that this year we were able to broaden our ceremony and recognize the young adults who are in the independent living program,” Commissioner Jordan said. “It’s crucial for us to recognize the parents but also those who have worked hard to be on the road to independence.”

Shamele Jenkins, President of the Miami- Dade County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, praised the honorees and their families who were in attendance.

“I’d like to tell all the parents, job well done,’” Jenkins said. “I salute you for caring and making a difference.”

Kendra Walker was among the independent-living honorees. Walker was just two-years-old when her mother died and her aunt assumed custody. She was 11 when her aunt passed away, and she was sent to foster care. She said that transition was rocky, but she has since overcome those challenges.

Walker, 29, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting. She currently mentors at His House, Educate Tomorrow and says several local organizations, including Jenkins’, were instrumental in her success.

Walker, who is currently a compliance auditor for Miami-Dade County, urged those in the audience to use their challenges as motivation.

“Your hardships prepare you for opportunity and then you can really make an impact,” Walker said.