Parent Leadership Award Winners
Frank Fisher is a grandfather in Shasta County (Anderson), caring for his grandson after losing his daughter to substance abuse in 2014. His wife and son were killed by a drunk driver 2 years later, leaving him with little support in raising his grandson. To fill the gap Frank needed in his support system he became involved in the Shasta County Parent Leadership Advisory Group (PLAG). Frank plays music for PLAG’s Annual Reunification Celebration, pioneered “PLAG Gives Back”, coordinated the float for the “Walk with Us” Christmas Parade and continues to volunteer for as many tasks as he can, doing anything to help PLAG. Frank said, “I enjoy Parent Leadership because it fills a cavity. I believe that if my daughter was a part of PLAG, she would be alive today and when I attend activities like Parent Café, I see her there.”
Brenda Arenas is a mother in Santa Clara County (San Jose), who joined Grail Family Services (GFS) over 14 years ago for a parent-child early literacy program with her daughter. Coming from Chihuahua, Mexico, Brenda was looking for an opportunity for them to learn and connect with their new community. Brenda later became a volunteer for the Child Enrichment Program, which provides free child care for parents attending GFS programs. Brenda’s daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at age 4, yet Brenda’s resiliency, passion for learning and unrelenting advocacy for her child helped her family through this difficult time. Brenda has become a GFS ambassador, recruiting families into programs, most of which now have a waitlist thanks to her outstanding work and always making families feel welcomed.
Julie Garcia is a mother in Napa County (Calistoga), who began attending parent workshops at the St. Helena Family Resource Center. She later became involved in the English Learners Advisory Committee at her children’s school and soon became the President of this committee. In this role she has engaged many families to participate in their community in very meaningful ways, including turning the annual Valentine’s Dance into a major school fundraiser, which raised money for the school’s tutoring program. She is also an active participant in the school district’s Citizen’s Oversight Committee and UpValley Family Center’s UpValley Coalition for Youth. In the coalition, she works to educate families and students to prevent youth from using alcohol and drugs. Julie also leads the parent leadership group, Adelante, in which she empowers parents to speak up for their families in a variety of public forums.
Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Award Winners
The Yolo County Children’s Alliance (YCCA) focuses on a strengths-based approach when it comes to providing resources to parents in their community. Each year YCCA produces original educational guides to promote positive parenting skills to help prevent child abuse and neglect. The goal of the parenting guides is to support at least one of the Five Protective Factors that strengthen families as identified by the Strengthening Families Framework. The guides focus on primary prevention of child maltreatment and appeal to a broad audience while being culturally flexible, using a strengths-based approach, and are available in a variety of languages. These materials are disseminated to families and other organizations that work with families to help engage as many parents as possible.
Lassen Family Services (LFS) is a non-profit agency that provides advocacy and treatment services to victims of sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence. Last year LFS partnered with the Lassen Child Abuse Prevention Council and Lassen County Children and Family Services during Domestic Violence Awareness Month to promote prevention efforts with a focus on children and youth who are affected by domestic violence and relationship violence. They also took part in hosting several events in their community. Their campaign, “Turn Main Street Purple”, involved a contest for shop owners to decorate their window displays and a purple ribbon sale in which the proceeds benefitted the local domestic violence shelter. LFS hosted the fourth annual “Dancing for a Brand New Me”, an awareness and fundraising event with more than 300 attendees! Last but not least, they hosted the Susanville Safe and Sane Halloween trick or treating event, with nearly 800 children visiting their booth. LFS provides vital services to families and continues to collaborate with other organizations to support a variety of causes throughout the year.
New Alternatives Incorporated is a non-profit organization that provides family support services in Orange County. For the past several years, this organization has adopted a Trauma Informed Care approach and strives to keep employees informed on the most up to date practices. Their main focus is to provide the necessary tools to stop the cycle of abuse within the families that they serve. New Alternatives Incorporated understands the importance of helping those they serve heal from their past experiences in order to improve their well-being and ensure that future generations are safe and healthy.