Greene County Children Services honor child advocates, student artists


XENIA — Greene County Children Services on Thursday held its annual Blue Ribbon Breakfast, honoring outstanding child advocates and student art contest winners.

Greene County Children Services also gave special recognition to child advocates in law enforcement and other community leaders. Twelve students of all ages around Greene County were recognized for their artwork in line with this year’s theme: “Be a Hero, Help Protect Child Abuse.”

The Blue Ribbon Breakfast is held each year in April to coincide with National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and hosted for more than 100 guests this year. For the first time, the student awards included high school students in Greene County. Entrants were split into two categories based on their age and six winners for each age group were selected. Each age group also had one grand prize winner: Fourth-grader Madelynn Keck and high school senior Kayla Bonenberger.

“I was thinking about helping the child in need,” said Keck, who attends Legacy Christian Academy. She said she was inspired to create the artwork to help kids in need and raise awareness.

Bonenberger is a two-time winner. She entered and won years ago in elementary school with a similar piece of art.

“At first it was just an assignment we were given for school,” she said. “And then I just really had fun with it.”

Bonenberger and her classmate, Georgie Trimner, entered the contest together. Trimner was one of the other winners recognized at the breakfast.

The 12 students were awarded a plaque of their artwork, a cash prize, and will be featured in a 2025 calendar to be published. The other middle and high school winners were Alyssa Corry (eighth grade), Taryn Franz (10th grade), Natalie Jung (eighth grade), Emma Minor (11th grade), and Georgie Trimner (12th grade).

Other younger winners were Katelynn Dutton (fifth grade), Emilia Fisher (fourth grade), Laney Kinnison (fourth grade), Annalise Koning (fifth grade), and Fatima Salahuddin (fifth grade).

Winners were presented with their award by County Commissioners Rick Perales and Dick Gould.

In addition to the student art contest, three awards were presented for child advocates in categories of community, law enforcement, and children services. A special lifetime achievement award was also presented for the first time in 13 years to Pat Mazeika, who has worked with Greene County Children Services for 35 years and is currently the supervisor of the Adoption/Independent Living Program Unit.

Winners were nominated by co-workers in their field and judged by a Greene County Children Services board before being presented with the award at the breakfast event. The entire staff of New Beginnings Group Home won the community category, Major Lon Etchinson and Detective Chris Reed were co-recipients in the law enforcement category, and caseworker Judith Ekpo won the in the children services category.

Following the awards, keynote speaker Deanna Jones spoke to the guests about change and resilience. Jones was a foster child, and is now a mother, author, speaker, and business owner with more than 10 years of experience in children services.

Greene County Children Services is a division of the Greene County Department of Job & Family Services. It provides for the care, protection, and placement of abused, neglected, and dependant children in Greene County.

Contact Ethan Charles at 937-502-4532.

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