Children Services honors students, advocates

By Scott Halasz shalasz@civitasmedia.com

April 24, 2014

BEAVERCREEK — Some artistic kids and outstanding child advocates were recognized at a special breakfast on Wednesday.

As part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Greene County Children Services and Michael’s House Child Advocacy Center jointly hosted a “Blue Ribbon Breakfast”at Walnut Grove Country Club to honor members of law enforcement, the community, and children services who help keep kids safe. The winners of Children Services’ first annual Child Abuse Prevention Art Contest were also announced at the event.

Bringing the whole county together went along with the general theme of children services.

“We believe it takes a community to protect a child,” said Beth Rubin, director of children services.

In staging the art contest, children services officials were hoping to increase among children the importance of child abuse awareness. The grand-prize winner caught on to that message.

“It’s very important for children to be safe,” said Fairborn Intermediate fourth grader Jennah Johnson, adding she was hoping to win. “I worked so hard on my picture.”

Johnson’s artwork depicts the county courthouse and several scenes of kids safely playing around town.

“She came up with the idea of the whole community coming together,” said Johnson’s mother, Corinne. “She is a very amazing artist. I knew it would be something special.”

Johnson received a $100 prize and her artwork will be featured on the cover of the 2015 children services calendar.

The Child Advocate of the Year Award in the “Community” category went to Pastor Greg Delaney for his work with A House of Prayer Church and The Jeremiah Tree, both located in Xenia.

“I’m absolutely overwhelmed by today,” Delaney told the crowd of more than 150, which included many county dignitaries. Delaney was actually at Dollywood in Tennessee with a group of teenagers when he found out he won.

“If that’s not child advocacy, I don’t know what it is,” he joked.

The Child Advocate of the Year Award in the “Law Enforcement” category went to Xenia Police Division Sgt. Scott Beegle.

“If we were involved, things were not always the best,” Beegle said. “But we always worked hard to try to get the best outcome. I didn’t know I was put in for this award. Shocked when I found out. It’s just an honor.”

The Child Advocate of the Year Award in the “Children Services” category went to Beth Keller, a caseworker with Greene County Children Services.

“After 20 years I do love my job, I do love what I do,” she said.

Four students received $50 prizes for their artwork: Haneefah Jones, a fifth grader at Shawnee Elementary School in Xenia; Jacob Holmes, a fourthth grader at Arrowood Elementary School in Xenia; Tyler Marriott, a fourth grader at Fairborn Intermediate School; and Matthew Rogalinski, a fifth grader at Fairborn Intermediate School.

Seven students and one two-student team received $25 prizes for their artwork: Serenity Swyers, a fourth grader at Fairborn Intermediate School; Taylor Reynolds, a fifth grader at Fairborn Intermediate School; the team of Melissa Le and Taylor Kelley, both fifth graders at Fairborn Intermediate School; Ameer Canada, a fifth grader at Shawnee Elementary School in Xenia; Abby Cohen, a fifth grader at Shaw Elementary School in Beavercreek; Xandria Sims, a fifth grader at Fairborn Intermediate School; Memory Clevenger, a fifth grader at Fairborn Intermediate School; and Saturn Weeks, a fifth grader at Summit Academy in Xenia.

The $50 and $25 prize winners will also have their artwork in the 2015 calendar. Teachers also received matching prizes to use in their classrooms.

The keynote speaker was Vanessa Jackson, a spokesperson for the Ohio Chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America. Jackson, who is a nurse at Montgomery County Stillwater Center, shared her story of growing up in foster care as a teen mother and how she benefited from some outstanding child advocates along the way.

Ohio State Representative Bob Hackett (R-London) and Marty Heide, district outreach representative for U.S. Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH) helped pass out awards.

Greene County Children Services is a division of the Greene County Department of Job & Family Services and provides for the care, protection and placement of abused, neglected and dependent children in Greene County. The agency engages in a wide spectrum of protective activities including the assessment of thousands of child abuse and neglect reports received each year. It also provides preventive services to children in their own homes as well as providing temporary and permanent child placement through foster care, adoption, group home and independent living programs.

Michael’s House, located in Fairborn, provides a warm and welcoming environment for children who have been abused. Comfortable, private and child-friendly, Michael’s House makes multi-disciplinary, multi-jurisdictional investigations easier for children by eliminating the need for multiple interviews. Nearly 600 Greene County children and their families are served at Michael’s House each year.