Coalition members make future brighter

Canadian County Coalition of Children and Families recently held its “first annual” awards banquet, acknowledging those among us who have shined in their efforts to help children and their families.

While it was gratifying to see people like Dolores Sanders-Alvarez, Billie Linam and others acknowledged, we need to also stop and thank people who every day put their hearts on the line as they work to make better lives for children and youth who have had to deal with situations far beyond their years.

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The coalition probably isn’t known to many outside their own “community,” but it should be. Many of its members work long hours, and do a lot in their own time, to improve the situation for area children. They don’t have an 8 to 5 job they leave at the door; the situations they see and the children they literally help save are a testament to their dedication and caring.

It is people like Ann Parkhurst, Cedric Mills, Rosemary Klepper, Jenny Kellbach and so many others – their fight to help others is something that not only helps those directly involved. They make our communities a better place to live, they raise our standard of living.

Organizations like Gary E. Miller Canadian County Children’s Justice Center and Youth and Family Services are filled with others – many of them coalition members – who work to make the world a better place for the smallest and youngest of us. Michael Ellison has talked to thousands of students about bullying and how it can be prevented. He has helped countless students who have been a victim of other students’ cruelty – and in the process, has most likely helped our county avoid tragedies we see on the national news.

Special Judge Bob Hughey, like his predecessor and namesake at the children’s justice center, Gary Miller, see horrors they can’t even discuss in cases that involve children’s welfare. He makes decisions, day in and day out, that will impact families. Those decisions can be difficult – who wants to actually take a child from his or her parents? But sometimes that cannot be helped and Hughey takes that responsibility on his shoulders. It’s something I wouldn’t want to have to do.

The justice center sees the best and worst of families. They help children and youth who cannot help themselves, but they also work with youth who have lost their way. They may have trouble in school, an addiction problem, started in on criminal activity – Hughey and his staff work to try to turn those kids around, before their actions permanently scar their lives.

Turning lives around is a big part of Dee Blose’s life. The Youth and Family Services director celebrates every milestone, every positive as if it was her own child’s. And the children she and her staff deal with really are their own, through extension. Whether it’s a new playground, a program to help disabled adults or just helping families get through bureaucratic hurdles, these people display dedication and caring every single day.

As the saying goes, the children are our future. We are lucky – and we should thank – all of these people who work each day to make that future a bit brighter.

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