VOTING IS NOW OPEN
ANNE ROBERTS PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS
Below the ballot area is biographical or organizational information on the finalists. As we receive the information from the finalists, we will update their information to help you make your choice
Ryan Abernathy has led childhood hunger initiatives for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma for nearly a decade. From the teachers’ strike to the COVID-19 pandemic, he has worked diligently to make sure that no child goes hungry and that more than 800 partners from schools, to afterschool programs to summer feeding sites, have what they need to serve kids nutritious meals. He also is an advocate for organizations and agencies who serve children, representing them to Members of Congress on policies and waivers needed for our state to better serve children. He works with coalitions across the state to build additional capacity to serve children in areas of the state with limited access. His team also provides technical assistance to agencies and school districts within the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma’s 53 county service area to ensure they are equipped to meet federal standards and qualifications. In addition to this work, he serves children, families, and the community as the Teaching Pastor at West Metro Community Church in Yukon.
Mike founded Peaceful Family Solutions in 2013 out of his own checkbook to provide a free program for children ages 7-12 affected by addiction in their homes. When Mike sought help for his grandchildren, who had been afflicted by their parent’s addiction, he soon found there was nothing available in Oklahoma that could benefit his grandkids to learn and heal from the trauma they received because of the bad habits and actions of their parents. They needed to learn how to cope with their feelings of guilt, anger, loneliness, fear, shame and sadness. He learned this was a state and national crisis, and no program was offered in our state. He discovered a curriculum developed by the National Association for Children of Addiction that was (and remains) in use as the Children’s Program at the Hazelden Betty Ford Centers. Mike brought the curriculum to Oklahoma, making both the four-day Children’s Program and the weekly continuing care groups free to anyone who would benefit. Each year, Peaceful Family Solutions serves hundreds of Oklahoma Children without any public funding. The organization is funded entirely through private fundraising and local grants. Mike continues to serve as the board chair and is very actively engaged in the fundraising and referral efforts.
Ashley Chapman is an extremely talented and gifted young woman. She is a trainer and vice-president of the non-profit The Red Cord – SW Oklahoma’s Anti-Human Trafficking Organization. She spends many of her days and free hours teaching community groups, schools, first responders, and medical personnel on how they can help combat human trafficking in Oklahoma. Her primary audience is children. Her passion has led her to work with young people in foster homes, underserved community groups, and public-school classrooms throughout Southwest Oklahoma.
She has co-led several large events for The Red Cord, including their Annual Freedom Gala and the Backpack Drive for Human Trafficking Survivors. She is responsible for creating the Covid-19 project, Outfitting Needs, which provided new outfits for children and families during the community’s shutdown. Parents would contact her with their needs and Ms. Chapman would deliver their orders after putting their outfits together.
Stacy McNeiland is CEO of The CARE Center, Oklahoma County’s child advocacy center. The nonprofit convenes a multidisciplinary team of law enforcement, DHS, assistant district attorneys, and mental health and medical professionals to provide wrap-around healing services for children and families in active child abuse investigations. To support The CARE Center’s vision of ending child abuse in Oklahoma County, McNeiland created the ROAR program, a simple and effective child abuse prevention education series that gives young children the tools to identify and prevent child abuse. Along with a dedicated staff, McNeiland is committed to preventing child abuse through education and helping children find their voice and begin to heal after abuse.
Maria Rosales-Lambert is currently the Program Director and the Bi-lingual Forensic Interviewer at Oklahoma Interviewing Services, INC (OIS) where she provides forensic interviews in English and Spanish and trainings for law enforcement agencies, Department of Human Services (DHS) and Child Advocacy Centers (CAC) throughout the state of Oklahoma. She has been a forensic interviewer for more than 17 years, during which time she has conducted hundreds of interviews with child victims. She has trained hundreds of professionals working in the child maltreatment field and has conducted many recognizing and reporting trainings for community partners. She also provides forensic interviewing supervision and mentoring, peer review and case consultation. Ms. Rosales-Lambert currently serves as a faculty member with ChildFirst/Finding Words Oklahoma, Oklahoma Commission on Children & Youth (OCCY) and Zero Abuse Project. She has previously trained for the National Children’s Advocacy Center (NCAC), Oklahoma Child Abuse Training & Coordination (CATC) and the American Professional Society on Child Abuse (APSAC). She has also trained nationally and in Canada and Guatemala on interviewing children, interpreting and culture issues. She was a Police Officer for over five years with the Ft Smith Police Department in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Camp Fire Camp DaKaNi
We are very aware of the changes that are required in order to meet the developmental and educational needs of the youth of our community. Every Camp Fire program employs the Thrive Theory of Change methodology, helping youth find their sparks and discover who they are. This methodology is carried out by:
- identifying sparks, passions, skills
- developing / adopting a growth mindset
- reflecting on strengths and challenges
- shifting gears when faced with obstacles
This process then changes how youth think of themselves so that they can reach their full potential. Our trained staff then nurture that discovery giving youth the tools they need to become leaders in their community, school, and their peer group. The participants are taught life lessons such as becoming and being a leader, working as a team member, having confidence in their abilities, community service, and respect for differences and the environment.
To deliver our promise, we believe:
- in the worth of all kids and young people
- that all youth can thrive
- that youth need 3 champions to thrive: Their family, their school, and their
- community (which includes Camp Fire)
- in a diverse and inclusive community and society – one that embraces its differences
- that youth must have a voice in matters which directly affects them.
Diabetes Solutions of Oklahoma
Diabetes Solutions of Oklahoma is a champion in the community. Their commitment and support to families with children recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are unmatched. This nonprofit teaches parents how to care for an unrelenting chronic illness, and gives individuals educational opportunities through their summer camp programming, and other social gatherings. Type 1 diabetes is the fastest growing chronic diagnosis, with those aged 0-5 being diagnosed higher than any other age group. Without the support of Diabetes Solutions of Oklahoma, our family would have undoubtedly experienced poorer health outcomes for our kiddo with type 1. Their network, guidance, support, and community presence are deserving of recognition in these trying times.
Hearts for Hearing
Hearts for Hearing has supported thousands of babies and children with profound hearing loss to learn to listen and talk. Just this last year, they provided screening services for almost 3,000 kids and served over 7,000 in clinic. They have given hope and opportunities to children all over the state and have supported thousands of families dealing with this issue. They are the only organization in the state that supports listening and spoken language, giving families hope and thus enabling children with profound hearing loss to meet their maximum potential. Hearts for Hearing is the gold standard in the country for both provision of services and research in this field.
Hunger Free Oklahoma
Hunger Free Oklahoma (HFO) works to bring a unified, statewide voice to the issue and solutions surrounding hunger, with a goal to ensure all Oklahomans have access to affordable, nutritious food. HFO holds the core belief that hunger is solvable, unnecessary, and unjust, and it impacts everyone living in Oklahoma.
HFO’s objective is to serve as a resource to existing efforts, facilitating collaboration, and providing technical assistance, data, and planning to expand the utilization of federal nutrition programs and build capacity amongst its partners. HFO pilots new solutions to expand access to nutritious food for Oklahomans experiencing food insecurity. Much of this work is achieved through public-private partnerships.
Since the pandemic hit, HFO has launched a statewide SNAP application assistance hotline and Tulsa Kitchens Unite which supported local businesses, kept service industry workers working, and fed those impacted by COVID 19. HFO also successfully advocated for multiple flexibilities in existing programs and the implementation of new programs to address drastically increasing food insecurity rates due to COVID-19.
Since its launch in November 2016, HFO and its many partners across the state have been successful at increasing access to multiple programs resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars coming back to Oklahoma to serve our children and most vulnerable.
Kehila Park is a Christ-Centered, Multi-Generational Foster Care Community where foster and/or adoptive families, their children, and neighboring senior adults invest in one another’s lives.
Children find not just parents and a home, but also Grandparents, playmates and an entire neighborhood designed to “break the cycle of foster care”.
Senior adults will find meaning and purpose in their daily lives by interacting with the foster/adoptive families as well as with other seniors in the safe and secure community setting of Kehila Park.
Through volunteerism and the desire to give back to their community rather than relying soley on outside services the community itself will be a form of intervention.
This unique and cooperative community will include a Learning Center with a library, computer equipped tutoring rooms, art therapy room, multi-purpose recreation area, commercial kitchen and a community garden.
Our Programs Focus on the following:
3. Health and well-being
4. Arts and culture