Last Thursday, nearly 500 advocates from every corner of the state gathered at our Voices for Children Awards Luncheon to protect the “Just One Childhood” every child has to grow and thrive.
With the help of returning emcee Eric Liu, Children’s Alliance presented three awards honoring outstanding advocates for kids in our state:
Washington Parent Ambassadors championed the High-Quality Early Learning Act of 2012, showing up in Olympia in huge numbers – moms, dads, kids – to speak up for the bill each time it was considered. Then, they were there at a pivotal time for the Working Connections Child Care program. In the end, the state child care program was not only protected, but also restored to more than 2,000 working parents who’d been cut off in 2010. Each year 20 parents who have enrolled children in Head Start or ECEAP become Parent Ambassadors through hands-on training from the Washington State Association of Head Start & ECEAP. Read more about Washington Parent Ambassadors.
Though Jiji Jally of Lacey couldn’t receive her award in person, it was clear why she was honored with the Brewster C. Denny 2012 Rising Advocate Award. “Hunger, for any kid…you can’t stand that,” says Jally. She organized people from her homeland of the Marshall Islands, bringing their voices and stories to Olympia when legislators threatened to end State Food Assistance (SFA). She powerfully demonstrated that SFA is a lifeline for documented immigrants, who come from some 160 countries. Following a deep SFA cut in the 2011 state budget, Jally became a key leader in advocating to prevent more cuts to food assistance for 12,500 children in our state in the 2012 session. Read more about Jiji Jally.
If you were in pain, you had your teeth pulled. This was true for generations in the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community before their dental clinic opened in 1995. Now the Swinomish are leaders in the effort to create licensed dental practitioners in Washington. The new, mid-level provider would offer affordable dental care to underserved children and families in their own community and across the state. Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby and others shared their stories with lawmakers in support of the bill championed by Children’s Alliance in the 2012 session. Although the bill did not pass last session, the partnership of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Children’s Alliance and others show that advocacy works better when we work together. Read more about the Swinomish Tribal Community.
During the luncheon, editorial writer Lynne Varner delivered the keynote speech, sharing her story of survival and success with the help she received growing up: "There's no way I could have done it alone. That story about bootstraps. That ain't true."
Kids need us to speak up for them in Olympia and Washington, D.C. to get the health care, nutritious food, and high-quality early learning they deserve. Each advocate awardee embodied this fight to protect all aspects of each child’s “One Childhood.”
Voices was a great example of what happens when advocates get together for kids — and when we pool our resources to protect them. More than $95,000 was raised to protect childhood.
Watch this inspiring video to see what Children’s Alliance has done for three amazing kids.