Published On: Wed, Nov 8th, 2023

Annual Luncheon Gives Youth and Families Affected by Addiction the Best Chance for Success and Honors Late Judge Alvarez

Brandon Richardson, recipient of the first annual Judge Ron Alvarez Award

Making Every Day Count supports county Early Childhood, Juvenile, and Family Courts

Palm Beach Gardens, FL – Making Every Day Count, Inc. (MEDC) held  its annual luncheon to raise funds so Palm Beach County’s Early Childhood Court, Juvenile Drug Court, and Family Treatment Court can give youth and families affected by addiction the best chance for success. The event took place on Thursday, October 19, 2023, at 11:30 AM at Mirasol Country Club. 

With more than 150 attendees, the event included a silent auction, followed by a sit-down luncheon and program featuring inspirational client stories and ways to assist MEDC in serving more children and families in Palm Beach County. 

In honor of late Judge Ron Alvarez, there was a tribute to his contributions to MEDC and the Palm Beach County drug courts–including the presentation of the first annual Judge Ron Alvarez Award. The award will recognize annually a person in the community who exhibits the virtues and selfless qualities for which Judge Alvarez, the founder of the Juvenile Drug Court in Palm Beach County, was known. The MEDC board of directors unanimously chose Brandon Richardson, the current coordinator of the Juvenile Drug Court, for his work with the same children that Alvarez served for so long and his tireless work in helping the youth and their families navigate their journeys. 

Juvenile Drug Court graduate Lorenzo Oliva and his mother Laurel Shand shared their story and experience. Three years ago, Oliva made a decision that landed him in the middle of the judicial system as a 14-year-old juvenile during COVID. After almost a year on probation, Lorenzo found himself at the mercy of Drug Court and assisted by Making Every Day Count.   

Shand, a single mother who works full time as a paralegal, would not have been able to get Oliva to his appointments without the assistance of MEDC which provided transportation and support. 

“Making Every Day Count has gone above and beyond to help not only Lorenzo, but myself included, in our journey through Drug Court. I have witnessed how this organization helps local families manage crises that deal with the health and mental wellbeing of the juveniles in the judicial system,” shared Shand. 

Today, Oliva is a senior at Palm Beach Gardens High School and works part time bussing tables at a local restaurant.

The proceeds from this event support families and/or children who have the desire to complete Palm Beach County’s Early Childhood Court, Juvenile Drug Court, or Family Treatment Court. Making Every Day Count provides support services or financial assistance for rent, utilities, transportation, education, and household items while clients complete the Drug Court programs. By assisting Drug Court participants with these practical problems, they are able to more easily overcome hindrances and continue on their path to recovery.

Early Childhood Court works with families in Dependency Court who have children between the ages of 0-5 years old. Juvenile Drug Court works with those under the age of 18 who have come into the system having committed crimes because of addiction. Family Treatment Court works with parent(s) who have had their children removed from their care because of addiction. 

75% of Drug Court graduates remain arrest free, and the longest Drug Court study to date found reductions in crime last as long as 14 years. By comparison, only 30% of individuals released from prison never reoffend. At the same time, the average annual cost per prisoner in the traditional criminal justice system is $22,650. The average annual cost per Drug Court participant is $6,985. 

MEDC President Rodney Louis thanked the attendees for helping to create an alternative to a criminal disposition for those individuals and families with drug offenses. Thanks to community support, Making Every Day Count added the Early Childhood Court to its mission since the 2022 luncheon. With the money raised this year, the organization will continue to transform the lives of more children and families in Palm Beach County and provide second chances.

For more information on Making Every Day Count, visit  

Photo: Tracey Benson Photography

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