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Kids View Online - June 2018

KCSL honors bipartisan group of legislators at 125th Annual Meeting

KCSL awarded State Senator Laura Kelly, Senator Vicki Schmidt, Representative Troy Waymaster and Representative Kathy Wolfe Moore with the Distinguished Service to Kansas Children Award at KCSL’s 125th Annual Meeting Luncheon and Awards Ceremony April 27. Last year, these four legislators helped secure $3 million in federal funding to expand KCSL’s intensive home visitation model, Healthy Families Kansas, uplifting overburdened families and preventing child abuse and neglect.

The ceremony was held at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Topeka and also honored outgoing and new KCSL Board Directors and Foundation Trustees, staff milestone anniversaries and Hall of Fame awards in Staff Achievement and Outstanding Volunteer Service. Senior Vice President of Generation and Marketing at Westar Energy and KCSL Foundation Trustee John Bridson was awarded the 2018 Board Leadership Award. Bridson has demonstrated leadership at KCSL for more than seven years. His achievements include giving volunteer hours on KCSL’s Topeka Community Leadership and Development Council (CLDC), introducing KCSL to Westar Foundation and Westar employees who give generously to KCSL in many ways, organizing holiday gifts from Westar employees and much more.

This year’s Honorary Trustee Emeritus status was given to Aileen and Archie DeBruce of Ulysses, Gwen Sevart of Wichita and Robert Wunsch of Kingman. The Hilda Dyer Staff Achievement was awarded to Michelle Reichart. Reichart worked at KCSL for nine years. She started as a parent and youth educator and, although her roles changed within KCSL’s Prevent Child Abuse Kansas programs, Reichart always used a great sense of humor and adventure to tackle any responsibilities given to her. Sandy Simonich received the Glenna Van Metre Outstanding Volunteer Service award for her work on KCSL’s Kansas City CLDC. Simonich has helped KCSL with an array of things including securing Red Stocking Breakfast auction items, soliciting sponsorships and advising program staff on recruitment and retention of new families to KCSL services.

Success Corner

Araceli, Julio & Yaiden

Featured in Kids View Online April 2018

Although many 15-year-old girls feel like adults, most are enjoying their early teens adjusting to high school, spending time with friends and possibly dating. Araceli, however, had much more on her mind at this age. She was preparing to raise a child with her boyfriend, Julio.

“We felt very scared when we found out I was pregnant,” Araceli said. “We were shocked but once we saw the ultrasound, we got really excited.”

In the beginning, Araceli and Julio had very little support. They immediately started searching for local resources in Emporia to help them on their new journey of parenthood. When the couple learned about KCSL’s Healthy Families, they enrolled.

“Since I got pregnant at a young age, I had no clue what was coming,” Araceli said. “I didn’t know the basics of how to care for my own child.”

Although she admits Healthy Families has helped her family, Araceli still had her struggles. After giving birth to her son, Yaiden, she felt unmotivated and didn’t attend school for a few months. Lisa Harder, KCSL family engagement coordinator for Healthy Families and Araceli’s home visitor at the time, along with Julio and Araceli’s family encouraged her to continue high school. Eventually, Araceli decided to persist in her schooling and even graduated with her class in 2017.

“KCSL has taught me how to succeed and not give up,” Araceli said. “They give you a lot of opportunities and support. If you need help, they’re there for you.”

Now, Araceli and Julio live in their own home and feel confident in their abilities. Yaiden, now 2 years old, is ahead in his development, Julio works full-time as a carpenter and Araceli stays at home to take care of their son.

“They are receptive to Healthy Families information and education and have been very successful with the program,” Harder said. “They are self-sufficient and excellent advocates for themselves and Yaiden.”

Araceli, Julio and Yaiden were featured on local television station WIBW-TV in Topeka last month. The story highlighted two KCSL families who are outstanding examples of Healthy Families participants.

“It was exciting, sharing our story and being recognized as a successful family,” Araceli said.

As for the future, Araceli has applied to attend Emporia State University in the fall to pursue a nursing degree, and Julio has dreams of starting his own business one day. The couple also has plans to marry and is optimistic about Yaiden starting school soon. All three are set to graduate from the Healthy Families program later this year.

“I just want a happy life,” Araceli said.

Click HERE to learn more about Healthy Families.

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