Greene County honors child advocates, art contest winners


XENIA — The Greene County Department of Job and Family Services is recognizing multiple winners of two annual award presentations related to Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Each April, the agency’s Children Services division announces the winners of its Child Abuse Prevention Art Contest and its Child Advocate Awards. Normally these awards are presented by the Greene County Commissioners and others during the annual Blue Ribbon Breakfast hosted by Children Services and Michael’s House Child Advocacy Center. This year, however, the event was canceled due to COVID-19.

The commissioners recently mentioned the importance of bringing attention to child abuse prevention every day, not just in April. It is the job of the entire community to look out for Greene County’s youngest citizens every day, they said, and to speak up if they suspect abuse or neglect.

Child Advocate Award Winners

The annual Child Advocate Awards honor outstanding child advocates in Greene County in three categories: Law enforcement, community, and Greene County Children Services. Nominations for the awards are made by employees of Greene County Children Services, and the winners are selected by an agency leadership team.

• The Child Advocate of the Year Award in the “law enforcement” category went to Officer Cara Foreman of the Fairborn Police Department. “Officer Foreman often responds to situations involving agency staff in the field, often after hours. She demonstrates a caring and compassion for the families served yet always has child protection as the priority,” her nominator said.

• The Child Advocate of the Year Award in the “community” category went to Gil and Jonell Esparza of Fairborn. The Esparzas were nominated based on their willingness to serve in a special emergency foster situation involving a child who did not speak English. They helped to bridge the language barrier and assisted the child and the agency in many other ways.

• The Child Advocate of the Year Award in the “Greene County Children Services” category is Fairborn’s Gina Vanwinkle, a caseworker who has worked at the agency for nearly seven years. Vanwinkle’s nominator stated that she is “a shining example of what child advocate means … Regardless of who she encounters, Gina treats everyone with the sincerest kindness and respect. This is a quality that endears people to her and makes her so successful as a caseworker.”

Art Contest Award Winners

The theme of this year’s art contest, open to all fourth and fifth graders in Greene County, was Greene County – United Against Child Abuse. The agency received 246 entries from nine Greene County schools. Each winner will receive a cash prize from Children Services, and each winner’s school will receive a matching prize. Winning artwork will be featured in a 2021 calendar to be published and distributed for free throughout the community by Greene County Children Services. Along with the cash prize, each art contest winner will receive a framed copy of their original artwork and an award certificate from Children Services.

The Grand Prize winner of the art contest is Maisy Kinnison, a fifth-grade student at Legacy Christian Academy. Kinnison will receive a $100 prize and her artwork will be featured on the cover of the 2021 Children Services calendar as well as on one of the monthly spreads inside the calendar.

The remaining 11 art contest winners, listed alphabetically, are:

• Autumn Allport, Legacy Christian Academy, Xenia, fifth grade

• Annie Augustine, Legacy Christian Academy, Xenia, fifth grade

• Ethan Bolton, Cedarville Elementary, fifth grade

• Capri Cotterman, Fairborn Intermediate, fifth grade

• Brynn Denton, Fairborn Intermediate, fourth grade

• Liz Drye, Legacy Christian Academy, Xenia, fourth grade

• Danielle Edgington, St. Brigid School, Xenia, fifth grade

• Melody Grace Gorski, Cox Elementary, Xenia, fifth grade (now attends Snowhill Elementary in Springfield)

• Mason North, Shawnee Elementary, Xenia, fourth grade

• Ella Norvell, Legacy Christian Academy, Xenia, fourth grade

• Shaylyn Rider, Fairborn Intermediate, fifth grade