With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we should all take some time to recognize and appreciate those important parts of our lives and the special people who make a difference.  I am very thankful for the team at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy that works every day to improve the lives of all 800,000 kids in our state.  I also am appreciative of the board members who dedicate time to serving the organization and the many volunteers who share their time.
 
As an organization, we decided that we hear too much of the negative and not enough of the good work done by Oklahomans.  It was through this discussion that our series of OICA awards was created.
 
Earlier this year, we decided it would be important to recognize Oklahomans who are making an impact for others through their work.  We gave away five awards at our Heroes Ball, with each winner exemplifying what we need more of in this state: Oklahomans who will go above and beyond to help other Oklahomans.  The winners of those awards were Craig and Amy Groeschel; Melvin & Jasmine Moran; the Adopt OK Kids segments run by KFOR, KSWO and KTUL; Whiz Kids and Brenda Lene.  I am thankful that each of these folks and programs care for their home state and do their part to make a difference.
 
We also give away other awards, and I was pleased that we were able to announce the winners at our KIDS COUNT Fall Forum earlier this month.  We recognized the recipients of the Laura Choate Resilience Award and the Moran Kidizenship Awards.  These two awards go to the heart of giving back to the community and show the resolve of the folks who not only won, but also each person who was nominated.
 

The Laura Choate Resilience Award is given to someone who has experienced trauma earlier in their life, overcome that hardship and gone on to do good for others.  The award, named after our board member who was a plaintiff in the original lawsuit which helped create OICA, is given annually.  This year, the award went to Thomasine Fife, a counselor who is also a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.  Thomasine overcame terrible conditions in her childhood and early adult life and is now serving as an inspiration to many people and helping them overcome their own trauma.  Thomasine was nominated by her son and delivered a “thank you” speech which brought many tears to the room.

 

We also presented the Moran Kidizenship Awards.  These recognitions go to five young Oklahomans under the age of 19 who are doing great work which helps other kids in the state.  Nominees show success with a program they developed or work to improve an existing program.  The overall winner was A’Layah Robinson for her work with Lemonade for Love.  Her hope is for every foster child to have a bag filled with basic needs.  She works in Murray County to see this happen and her work has spread to surrounding counties.  Other winners were Maya Carter, Laryssa Nunn, Desi Abney and Raylee Stonecipher.  Each of these students has done tremendous work to help improve the lives of others.
 
I am thankful that each of these Oklahomans shows their caring through their service.  If you know of an Oklahoman who deserves that recognition, please check out our awards pages at OICA.org and submit a nominee who deserves to be honored.

By OICA CEO Joe Dorman

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