A large crowd of supporters filled the ballroom at Williams on the Lake April 18 for the annual Rising Up and Moving On Awards breakfast, hosted by Medina Job and family Services. To create greater awareness of April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, this year's theme, A Call to Action, invited and encouraged everyone to become a voice for change.

JFS Supervisor Sharon Holmes welcomed and thanked everyone for attending, introduced local dignitaries, acknowledged the members of the planning committee, and thanked the following groups for their financial support of the event: Rotary Club of Medina Sunrise, First Baptist Church of Brunswick, Grace Church Medina East Campus, and Chipotle.

Following the invocation delivered by Pastor Forest Greethem, First Baptist Church, Brunswick, guests enjoyed a buffet breakfast prepared by Williams on the Lake.

The Louise Brown Community Services Awards, given in memory of advocate Louise Brown, were presented to Dawn Shonkwiler/Medina County Health Department (presenter Amber McClain), and Shannon Collins/The Children's Center of Medina County (presenter Jessica Yeager). Both women received high praise for consistently and compassionately going above and beyond in serving the needs of the community.

New this year was the Elder Advocacy Award presented by Marissa Roth to Dr. Amy Benza/Cornerstone Psychological Services. Roth noted that the elder population is growing rapidly and needs to be included along with the children and families requiring services from JFS. Roth described Dr. Benza as "an angel who doesn't know how to say no."

Attorney Michael Dailey, Guardian ad Litem, received the second new award presented this year, the Helping Hands Award. On behalf of several others in her group, spokeswoman Dina expressed gratitude for his help and guidance.

The third new award, Police Officer of the Year, was presented by Mary O'Connell to Sgt. David Pries/Medina County Sheriff's Department. Pries spoke briefly of the need for law enforcement and service organizations to work together in order to meet the needs of the increasingly serious problems resulting from drug-related issues.

The Rising Up and Moving On Awards were presented to those younger individuals who have demonstrated remarkable progress in overcoming unfortunate situations in their lives. McClain introduced the first two, Alonzo and Michael, reading a poem written by a young man describing the obstacles he had finally overcome on his journey to success and a better way of life.

Alonzo has been sober 18 months, and Michael overcame an abusive situation; with effective compassionate guidance, both teenagers demonstrated strong character and determination to make their lives better, more positively productive, and happier.

A positive, forward-thinking Lexi and her foster family were presented and praised for their team effort to create a better life for the excited award recipient, who will be fulfilling a dream to join the Navy after her graduation in May. The Navy recruiter was present to share in her success.

Jennifer Sullivan introduced Cody (absent), Gina, and Samuel, who worked together with the caring case workers from JFS to overcome adversities they had faced their entire lives.

Finally, Kylee completed this year's deserving recipients of the Rising Up and Moving On award. Now 18, Kylee will age out of the program she has been in since fourth grade. She is described as resilient, self-achieving, and ready to move ahead. She thanked everyone for all that was done for her. Kylee graduates in May, with honors, and will attend CSU in the fall.

Sally Buccieri, Ohio Job and Family Services/Child Welfare Practice, oversees the agencies and said there are more kids in care than there used to be.

To learn more about JFS, 232 Northland Drive, Medina, and foster care, please call 330-722-9300, or visit at