Children, children advocates honored at breakfast


XENIA — Greene County Children Services hosted the return of its “Blue Ribbon Breakfast” Wednesday to honor outstanding child advocates from law enforcement, the community, and Children Services.

The winners of Children Services’ 10th annual Child Abuse Prevention Art Contest were also announced at the event. Most of the 12 winning grade school students were on hand with their parents and other family members to accept their awards in person.

Approximately 130 people attended the event, which was held at the Emerge Event Center in Xenia.

The Blue Ribbon Breakfast is normally held each year in April to coincide with National Child Abuse Prevention Month. During the event, Child Advocate of the Year Awards are presented. The event has not been held since 2019 due to the pandemic.

The keynote speaker was Kurt Holden, director of public safety and chief of police at Wright State University. Holden, who spent much of his childhood in foster care, continues to find time to work to improve the foster care system on a local, state, and national level.

Child advocate awards were presented by Greene County Sheriff Scott Anger, Xenia Police Chief Chris Stutes, and Lana Penney, administrator for Greene County Children Services. Each child advocate award winner received a plaque from Greene County Children Services.

Art contest awards were presented by Greene County Commissioners Rick Perales, Dick Gould, and Tom Koogler. Each winner received a cash prize from Children Services, and each winner’s school will receive a matching prize. Winning artwork will be featured in a 2024 calendar to be published and distributed by Greene County Children Services. Along with the cash prize, each art contest winner received a framed copy of their original artwork and an award certificate from Children Services.

— The Child Advocate of the Year Award in the “community” category went to Terry Adkins, principal of St. Brigid School in Xenia.

— The Child Advocate of the Year Award in the “law enforcement” category went to Greene County Sheriff’s Deputy Jessica Kessel.

— The Child Advocate of the Year Award in the “children services” category went to Sara Cooley, ongoing services supervisor for Greene County Children Services, and Lois Adkins Keller, a caseworker in the foster care unit of Greene County Children Services.

— The grand prize winner of the art contest was Soraya Evege, a fifth grade student at Shawnee Elementary School in Xenia. She received a $100 prize and her artwork will be featured on the cover of the 2024 Children Services calendar.

— Four students received $50 prizes for their artwork: Lillian Walch from St. Brigid School in Xenia; Lyla Thompson and Eliza Kinnison from Legacy Christian Academy in Xenia; and Maraobi Iwuanyanwu from Shawnee Elementary.

— Seven students received $25 prizes for their artwork: Addilynn Dewitt, Abigail Mark, Ella Walker, and Elizabeth Jung from Cedarville Elementary; Su’Majay Badger and Graclynn Smith from Shawnee Elementary; and Hailey Alvarez from Fairborn Intermediate School.

Greene County Children Services is a division of the Greene County Department of Job & Family Services and provides for the care, protection, and placement of abused, neglected, and dependent children in Greene County. The agency engages in a wide spectrum of protective activities including the assessment of thousands of child abuse and neglect reports received each year. It also provides preventive services to children in their own homes as well as providing temporary and permanent child placement through foster care, adoption, kinship care, and independent living programs.

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