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Coalition Recognizes 2016 Champions

Kathleen Marran Schlenz of Peace Dale is Coalition’s 2016 Champion for Children

“Every year we look for a candidate who has touched the lives of the greatest number of children and families through dedication that goes above and beyond,” says Pamela Watson, who chaired the search. “Kathleen Schlenz is that person.”
Watson continues, “She has volunteered with the Rhode Island Early Intervention Interagency Coordinating Council, helped found The Sensational Child, served on the Board of the Autism Project of Rhode Island and on the Advisory Committee for Children with Special Needs for Neighborhood Health Plans of Rhode Island.
“Our Champion has been the “go to” professional for families who feel that systems have just not helped their children. She always takes into consideration the uniqueness of the way each child interacts with the world around them. Kathleen models patience, risk-taking, and collaboration with other professionals.
“As one of our nominators wrote,” Watson concluded, ” ‘Kathleen [has] slowly changed the face of children’s services in Rhode Island and especially in Washington County.'”

Community Partnership Award to two small businesses 
that support Chalk It Up bullying prevention event 

The Coalition gave the Community Partnership Award to two local businesses that have been mainstays of the three-year-old “Chalk It Up Against Bullying” community arts event.
“South County Art Supply and The 401 Studio have been essential to the success of Chalk It Up as it has grown from one town to three and 55 participants to 857,” Coalition Coordinator Susan Orban notes gratefully.
“The two supplied all the chalk and T-shirts, donating some and providing the rest at cost for all three years of the event, and increasing their contributions each year. We could not do this event without them.”
Elyssa Baldassarri and Matt Bauressa from The 401 Studio and Andrea Peitsch from South County Art Supply also received citations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and U.S. Senate presented by RI Rep. Teresa Tanzi.

Two Coalition stalwarts named Champions for Community Change

Longtime Coalition stalwarts and children’s advocates Sean Walsh and Lori Ann Hiener are the 2016 Champions for Community Change.
Walsh is director of the Washington/Kent Family Care Community Partnership at South County Community Action. The Coalition’s longest-serving co-chair, Watson points out, Walsh has conceived community events like the Rhode Island Children & the Arts Festival and Family Fun Day & Book Sale.
“He filled his truck full of gifts from our Teen Gift Drive to deliver to the Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF). He served meals at the Richmond Grange. He helped us expand Chalk It Up to Wickford,” Watson says.
Hiener has been involved with the Coalition since the days it was referred to as the “Risk Response Team”. She was a service coordinator for Trudeau Early Intervention before she became Director of South County Community Action Agency Head Start. She has been the Coalition’s co-chair since 2013.
“Lori Ann has done it all,” Watson explains. “She has supported the Rhode Island Children & the Arts Festival and the Family Fun Day and Book Sale. For the past four years, she has coordinated the Feelin’ Groovy Bookmark Project in 14 elementary schools across Washington County. She has served dinners at fundraisers at the Richmond Grange.
“And when she’s not helping children and families through her work or through the Coalition, Lori Ann spends most of her summers as a Girl Scout leader at a residential camp.
“We’re fortunate to have dedicated people like Sean and Lori Ann associated with the Coalition. And the community benefits from their work every day,” Watson concludes.