Each year, KCSL acknowledges friends and partners who have gone above and beyond to make Kansas communities a better place for families. Our Hall of Fame Awards recognize individuals for helping ensure healthy outcomes for children through positive experiences. Here are this year’s awardees.
The KCSL Board Leadership award goes to a board member, past or present, who has provided long-term service and made a significant impact on the agency’s ability to serve children and families.
Presented to: Carol Bailey
For more than a decade, Carol has actively contributed to our Kansas City Community and Leadership Development Council, and for the past six years, she has served on the Board of Directors. Her invaluable efforts in expanding our Red Stocking Breakfast online auction have been truly commendable. Carol has been an excellent liaison, connecting people to our prevention work. She has also provided invaluable advice to the agency regarding its impact on the Kansas City community. In addition, Carol has held various leadership roles within the organization, including chairing our KC community council for several years, serving on the executive committee of the Board of Directors, and participating in the joint fund development committee with the Foundation Trustees.
In a 2017 KCSL newsletter, Carol stated her passion for KCSL’s mission, encouraged everyone to find time in their schedules to support those in need.
“Volunteering comes from your heart and many of us have big hearts but busy lives,” Carol said. “I think most people can find one or two hours each month to volunteer. If everyone did that, our world could be so much better in so many ways.”
Glenna VanMetre Outstanding Volunteer
This Hall of Fame award is named in honor of Glenna, a former KCSL volunteer in the Wichita office. A retired Wichita State University sociology professor, Glenna started volunteering on our 1-800-CHILDREN helpline in 1988 contributing over 16,000 hours during her 26 years of service.
Presented to: Brenda & Bob Casper
Some people only give their time to an organization. And some people give their hearts and souls. For decades, Brenda and Bob Casper have given all the above to the children and families we serve.
The Casper’s are regular volunteers at KCSL and believe in the importance of giving back. It’s not unusual to see Bob and Brenda helping at a KCSL event or working with our youth in a classroom. Every other Monday, the Casper’s volunteer with KCSL’s restorative education services that assist older youth who have been suspended or at imminent risk of failure in school. Brenda divides her time between three classrooms teaching various creative art projects, while Bob tutors anyone who needs it. They prepare each activity with the students in mind and even supply everything needed for each project. Brenda and Bob are instrumental in planting pinwheel gardens during April’s Child Abuse Prevention month and of course, helping wherever needed at our annual Red Stocking Breakfast in Topeka.
Undoubtedly, Brenda and Bob’s compassionate nature is boundless. We are deeply grateful and cherish volunteers like Bob and Brenda Casper, who lend their time, talents and expertise with grace.
Hilda Dyer Staff Achievement
KCSL recognizes a staff member, current or former, who through their service has made a lasting mark on the agency. The Staff Achievement award is named in honor of past KCSL employee Hilda Dyer, who during her 39 years of work for the agency extended herself far beyond her job description. Through her involvement with almost 15,000 adoptions, she earned the right to refer to the adoptees as “my children.” Hilda Dyer passed away in 2001 at the age of 101. She was buried in Topeka’s Mount Hope Cemetery next to our medically fragile children who died during KCSL’s early years.
Presented to: Beverly Long
Bev began her career at KCSL in 2007 as a program development manager. Under her leadership, KCSL opened the first Emporia office to offer home visiting services for local families. She also found other ways to support children and parents by assisting multiple KCSL programs. Bev’s tireless work helped expand the home visiting program in Emporia to serve over 75 families each year. She always had a vision for improving the lives of families in her community. Through her connections, Bev developed both a formal and informal network of partners to deliver support for families. She built strong community partnerships and recruited many volunteers for KCSL’s Community and Leadership Development Council. She also helped lead the way to establish the annual Red Stocking Breakfast fundraiser in Emporia.
During her time at KCSL, Bev continually went above and beyond to serve on a variety of community collaborative groups. She helped establish the first Fetal Alcohol Syndrome diagnostic clinic in Kansas and serves on the Family Promise of the Flint Hills’ board of directors helping provide more services for the homeless population. In more recent years, she joined a team that worked with national, state and local partners to re-design the front end of the child welfare system. Her 15 years of work with KCSL has had positive impacts that have changed many lives for the better. Bev always found a connection to KCSL and our work to prevent child abuse and support families.
Corporate Friend of Children
The KCSL Corporate Friend of Children award is presented to a corporation or business that has demonstrated outstanding commitment, support and investment to the well-being of children.
Presented to: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas & Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation
This year’s Corporate Friend of Children award goes to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation.
The unwavering support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation has been instrumental to the success and growth of KCSL’s work. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas has been a long-time sponsor of KCSL’s signature fundraising event, Red Stocking Breakfast, providing funding in multiple communities throughout the state. Additionally, Blue Cross Blue Shield recently sought out KCSL’s assistance with their Pathways to a Healthy Kansas initiative, acknowledging the vital role that community coalitions play in improving health outcomes for Kansan and have championed KCSL’s work with family-friendly workplaces.
Over the years, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation has also supported KCSL’s parent education and prevention efforts through several grants. This funding played a pivotal role in helping KCSL launch The Period of PURPLE Crying prevention program to educate Kansas parents and caregivers about a baby’s crying and normal infant development and provide training to several Kansas hospitals.
We are thankful for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas and their Foundation for going above and beyond to promote healthy outcomes for Kansas children that make a positive impact for our communities.
A new addition to our Hall of Fame Awards, KCSL has created this award category to recognize a parent who has demonstrated leadership and become an exemplary role model to help other families thrive. This individual has successfully advocated for children and family initiatives, parent engagement and healthy, safe home environments.
Presented to: Andrea Robinson
Andrea’s story is one of struggle, perseverance and ultimately triumph. Despite facing significant challenges and trauma throughout her life, she was able to seek help and make the changes necessary to overcome her addiction and become a strong and loving mother to her children.
Andrea had a good childhood and loving adoptive parents. But she started acting out as a teenager. She would skip school and run away. Then things escalated. She started using meth with her boyfriend and was quickly addicted. At 17, she became pregnant–eventually giving her baby up for adoption. When Andrea got pregnant again, she saw it as an opportunity to get clean and be a responsible mom. In August 2017, Andrea started services with KCSL when her second son was born. Andrea sought substance use treatment and mental health services and has now been in recovery since 2019. She is now the mother to three children, two sons and a daughter.
Andrea has put in a lot of effort to make amends for her past struggles with her children, and she has emerged as a stronger and more committed parent. She is resolute in her determination to prevent her children from experiencing the same trauma that she went through as a result of her addiction. Despite the sudden loss of her father due to COVID, Andrea was able to draw on the support and resources available through KCSL and her own recovery to maintain her sobriety and provide for her family during this difficult time. In addition to achieving her initial goals of sobriety and keeping her children with her, Andrea has gone above and beyond by advocating for KCSL and other parents who are struggling with substance use.
She continues to share her story with fellow parents and various groups, with the hope that others can learn from her experience and recognize the importance of prevention services for families. She is determined to contribute in any way she can to ensure that other families can access the same help and support that she received. Overall, Andrea’s story serves as a powerful reminder of the resiliency of the human spirit and the importance of community support in overcoming adversity.
Distinguished Service to Kansas Children
KCSL’s most prestigious honor, the Distinguished Service to Kansas Children Award is presented to a person or an organization that has done exemplary work for Kansas children with a lasting impact.
Presented to: Cristi Cain
Since 2013, Cristi has been the director of the Local Public Health Section and Accreditation Coordinator at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. She previously worked as an early childhood health project coordinator for the University of Kansas and as a project director for the Kansas Methamphetamine Prevention Project. With over 22 years of experience in developing statewide initiatives and trainings, as well as providing technical assistance to communities, Cristi has consistently been devoted to improving the lives of Kansas children, particularly those affected by substance abuse.
In 2002, Cristi played a key role in establishing the Kansas Alliance for Drug Endangered Children to address the issue of children who are exposed to their caregivers’ substance abuse. These children are at higher risk of abuse, neglect and involvement in the child welfare system, yet they are often overlooked and underserved. Through her leadership, a coalition was formed with representatives from law enforcement, social services, healthcare, child development, judicial and mental health sectors. This coalition developed policies and best practices for identifying and helping drug-endangered children, from infancy through childhood. Education and outreach were provided statewide ensuring that children and families could access the necessary services and support to thrive.
Cristi was also instrumental in forming the Alliance for Drug Endangered Children in Shawnee County, which has been continuously functioning since 2004 providing education, policy development, and advocacy to serve this vulnerable population. Throughout her career, Cristi has remained committed to her mission of providing help, hope and support to drug-endangered children and their families.