CONCORD — On Tuesday, February 3rd, New Hampshire Children's Trust/Prevent Child Abuse New Hampshire presented 28 awards to parents and caregivers, to honor and recognize these extraordinary people who go above and beyond to be the best parents that they can be. Honorees and their families gathered in the Governor and Council Chambers at the New Hampshire State House in Concord for the 8th Annual Unsung Hero Parent Recognition Awards ceremony.
"To help strengthen our families and our communities, and I can think of no better way to do that than to honor the people who, day in and day out, are working with children and their families to make every humans life better, to support every child with a kind of foundational grounding that they need," said Hassan
Each award recipient and their family proudly stood while being photographed as they accepted their award from the governor. After the ceremony, families gathered for a reception to further celebrate with refreshments and coloring activities.
Kristy Blanchette, of Laconia, was nominated by Caroline Martin. Blanchette is the mother of two. Her one-year-old daughter, who was born prematurely, still requires a feeding tube in order to thrive. According to Martin, Blanchette has been very strong throughout this experience and is determined to succeed and provide for her children. Her commitment is proven by her dedication to being a student, maintains a 4.0 GPA, is successful in her job and also calls Bingo numbers at her son's school to help cover the cost of tuition.
Judy Downing, of Gilford, was nominated by Mary Mirkin. Downing and her husband are parenting their three grandchildren. In spite of family hardship, Downing manages to work full-time and provide primary care for these active children. One of the children is affected by a chronic medical condition, which requires on-going medical and therapy appointments. According to Mirkin, Downing has not hesitated to utilize various community resources to create an outstanding quality of life for her grandchildren.
Mandy Irving, of Franklin, was nominated by her mother, Joann Irving. Irving's mother describes her as "strong, caring, sensitive, my Rosie the Riveter, Mrs. Cleaver and Mr. Rogers role model mom." As the mother of two, she also holds two jobs, efficiently runs a household, coaches 5 year-olds in softball, was a birth coach for a deployed soldier's wife, and recycles children's books, clothing and toys for those less fortunate. Irving is sensitive to the struggles of other moms and leads by example.
Award recipients were nominated by family, friends or co-workers who believe the parents' strength and empathy make them role-models. Nominators also believe the Unsung Heroes demonstrate effective use of the 5 Protective Factors: 1. Parental Resilience: Overcoming everyday stress and bouncing back; 2. Social Connections: Having people who know and support them; 3. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: Where to find out about parenting skills and developmental growth; 4. Concrete Support in Times of Need: Knowing where to turn for help; 5. Social and Emotional Competence: Knowing how to help their children talk about their feelings.
The New Hampshire Children's Trust is committed to eliminating child abuse and neglect by helping families to build Protective Factors to buffer them in times of stress. Executive Director Keryn Bernard-Kriegl says, "It is an honor to recognize parents for being heroes to their children and role models for their community."