Jorge A. Plasencia: Combating Child Abuse on a Local Level

When he was young, Jorge Plasencia could hardly imagine kids were abused or abandoned by their parents—until he started visiting shelters during Halloween and Christmas. Plasencia’s elementary school experiences with the Children’s Home Society of Florida and as president of South Beach’s St. Patrick school service club left such an indelible mark that at age 17, he cofounded Amigos For Kids, which has become a dedicated nonprofit focusing on child abuse prevention. “Miami is a dichotomy,” he points out. “We’re a cosmopolitan city with so much wealth, yet we’re also one of the poorest urban communities in America. There’s great need here, sometimes just a few blocks away.”

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Amigos For Kids nurtures neglected children throughout South Florida, with various initiatives such as developing after-school programs in Little Havana and its annual ING Celebrity Domino Night, which is lavishly attended by myriad Latin American celebrities, with contributions amounting to around $300,000 in a typical year.

Currently the cofounder, chairman and CEO of República—a cross-cultural advertising/communications agency—Plasencia, now 37, has worked as an executive in media, pro sports and music entertainment. But it’s those eye-opening childhood recollections that keep him committed to Amigos, where he remains as chairman of the board.

“I have many memories from the past 20 years with Amigos—some very inspiring, and others that are really disheartening,” he says. “I’ve witnessed sad moments, such as an abused infant whose mother had burned his face with a hot iron. But I’ve also seen many abandoned kids that we’ve helped over the years become healthy adults.”

Visit amigosforkids.org.

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