FAMILY AND CHILDREN’S SERVICES HOLDS COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS FOR CHILDREN EVENT
The Kean University community celebrated National Child Abuse Prevention and Foster Care Month with a well-attended conference on April 26th in the STEM Auditorium that centered on the benefits of helping children in foster care and the importance of giving them hope, encouragement and ambition. The event also recognized key individuals in the community who have exercised these ideals. Family and Children’s Services hosted the important event, which featured a keynote address from author Bob Danzig (pictured left), a renowned motivational speaker and advocate for empowering children in foster care.
Family and Children’s Services is an independent non-profit behavioral health and social service agency that was founded in 1893. They are based in Elizabeth and provide their services to individuals of all ages and diverse families of all income levels in Union County and the surrounding area. They specifically focus on vulnerable, at risk and disadvantaged children in need of foster care or adoption, and families in need of crisis intervention or reunification.
“When family system breaks down, we need to stand up. We need to put some light on it and help change it,” Gerry Cooney (pictured below), honorary member of the organization's Board of Trustees and former professional boxer, said during the event.
Approximately 400,000 children in the U.S are in the foster care system and lacking permanent families. Former foster child, Danzig, was bounced around from place to place since he was two-years-old.
“I felt like a piece of driftwood that never belonged to any place,” Danzig recollected.
However, his social worker when he was 11 gave him the confidence he needed to remain strong and focused, reiterating to him, “You are worthwhile.” When he began to "age out" of the foster care system at seventeen, Danzig took a job as an office boy for the Albany Times Union. It was there that his office manager, who was also a foster parent, gave him the next bit of inspiration needed to continue on a positive path in life- "you are full of promise.”
Danzig said he spent his whole life hearing those two pieces of encouragement, which inspired him to become a person of purpose. He went on to spend three years in the Navy, work his way through five years of college night classes and eventually became CEO of Hearst Newspapers. He was the only business executive to be awarded a professional journalism fellowship at Stanford University. Danzig is a Hall of Fame speaker and recipient of the first National Speakers Association’s Philanthropist of the Year Award; the first Child Welfare League’s Champion for Children Award; and the 2012 Beacon of Ethics Award from the Business Ethics Alliance®.
Danzig emphasized the impact a single person can have on a child’s self worth. “When you have the privilege of using your talents in noble purpose work, you reach out to kids and you never know what you’re going to etch on them with some simple encouragement, some endorsement, some uplifting words,” Danzig explained. He describes people performing this noble work as “hope harvesters,” in that they plant seeds of vision, inspiration, respect, resilience and encouragement in a child’s garden of hope.
“Every child needs a champion,” said Shawna Hicks, President of the Member Action Committee at Community Access Unlimited, “Whether you’re rich or poor, no matter where you live, everyone needs someone to care about them. All the people here in this room today are here because they care about someone or someone cared about you.” The people recognized at this event were lauded for caring about more than foster kids’ health, safety and education- they were recognized for also caring about their dreams, their future and what they need to make both a reality. These community leaders were called on stage to be acknowledged in front of their peers and coworkers.
“You cannot be in this noble purpose work unless you care about doing the right thing," Danzig said in recognition of these individuals (seen below).
For more information on the sponsor of this event, Family and Children’s Services, please visit http://www.facsnj.org/ or call 908-352-7474.