Monday, February 29, 2016

DEL Celebrates Parents and Honors Unsung Heroes

The Department of Early Learning’s (DEL) Strengthening Families Washington division, with the help of Seattle’s Child has recognized 29 parents this past month in honor of Parent Recognition Month (February). This past fall, Strengthening Families Washington requested nominations from the public to honor “Unsung Heroes” or parents or caregivers who demonstrate strength, courage and empathy in their communities.

DEL Director, Ross Hunter makes paper & popsicle-stick 
helicopters with an Unsung Hero’s child at the 
mobile Hands On Children’s Museum.
DEL received many nominations and a committee of parents in Thurston County selected 29—one for each day in February. The 29 honorees from all over the state were then invited to Lacey, Washington for the 2016 Unsung Heroes event where family, friends and nominators shared inspirational stories about what it means to be an Unsung Hero in their communities.
“These families are up against incredible barriers, and yet, they show resilience and great strength,” said DEL Director, Ross Hunter. “I am honored to share a meal with the Unsung Heroes, hear their inspirational stories and award them for their unwavering dedication to kids.”
DEL Director, Ross Hunter and Assistant Director,
Greg Williamson honor Stephanie Cochran
(University Place).
Hunter as well as DEL Assistant Director, Greg Williamson awarded 29 Unsung Heroes and their families with a plaque and inspirational children’s book, The Dot after sharing dinner and playing with children attendees at Olympia’s Mobile Hands On Children’s Museum.
“Each honoree has a unique and truly inspiring story,” said Williamson. “Some are volunteers within their communities; others are mentors or foster parents—some have experienced great loss and personal triumph. All of the Unsung Heroes are assets to the families and children they serve daily.”
Each Unsung Hero’s story is available online at and has been shared on DEL’s Strengthening Families Facebook page.

More about Unsung Heroes

Nominator Laura Crooks reads nomination
to her husband, Hero Todd Crooks (Seatlle).
Unsung Heroes has celebrated parents and caregivers in Washington State since 2011. Nominees are selected based on their ability to utilize five “protective factors,” in their work and/or personal life such as:
·         Knowledge of parenting and child development
·         Social connections
·         Parental resiliency
·         Concrete support in times of need
·         Social and emotional competence of children

If you are interested in nominating someone for a 2017 Unsung Hero award, please look for further communication in the fall of 2016.

DEL Director, Ross Hunter plays with the wind
tunnel at the Mobile Hands On Children's Museum.
Event photos courtesy of Jamey Davidsmeyer.

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