Linda Nelson Community Champion Awards 2014

The 2014 Linda Nelson Community Champion Awards were presented on June 18, 2014 by the Skagit County Child and Family Consortium. Award recipients received a special hummingbird carving gifted from the Samish Indian Nation’s Cultural Committee Chair, Jan Flagg. The hummingbird generally symbolizes joy and playfulness, as well as adaptability. Symbolically, the hummingbird also represents: lightness of being ~ enjoyment of life ~ being more present ~ independence ~ lifting up negativity ~ swiftness, the ability to respond quickly ~ resiliency. All these characteristics and more are represented in our award recipients. Congratulations to you all and thank you for your commitment to children and families in Skagit County!

Claudia PalomeraDSHS, Division of Children and Family Services, Child Protective Services Supervisor

Claudia Palomera has been a social worker in the Mt. Vernon office for many years, and she is one of the few who have experienced working in all the units (Child Protective Services, Child Family and Welfare Services, Family Voluntary Services). She is currently serving as the Child Protective Services Unit Supervisor, which has allowed her to further demonstrate her ability to think about the impact her decisions make on colleagues, social workers she supervises, the office culture, the local community, and children and families that we connect with on a daily basis. Prior to her tenure with the department, many community members came to know her through her involvement with local community groups and she was also very involved in helping with the development of the District Court’s Truancy Court program, which built a program around the legislative Becca Law. She also is currently a professor at the Skagit Valley Community College a Pluralism course with Jere Lafollette. Her passion for this community, families, and respect for each individual family members experience has resulted in her productively engaging families to address the safety threats present in their homes and increase strong foundations for members of our community. ~Written by Kari Jellison in the nomination letter

Jon Gerondale Mount Vernon Police Department Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Resource Officer

For approximately ten years, Officer Gerondale has been serving as the Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Resource Officer (NRO). The NRO position is part of a coordinated effort among city, county, community agencies and residents to reduce crime, and the fear of crime, within the Kulshan Creek community. Prior to the establishment of the NRO, gang and non-gang related violence, significant neighborhood deterioration, increasing crime, police-community misunderstanding, and community disinvestment plagued the neighborhood. The improvement in the community is obvious to local residents and strongly supported by local crime statistics. Officer Gerondale has taken the Neighborhood Station from a single purpose Police Station to a full-fledged community center. Neighborhood residents take full ownership of the station while utilizing its many activities and resources. Jon has fostered this sense of belonging and civic investment through a wide host of prevention programs and healthy activities. ~Written by Bob Hicks in the nomination letter

Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Rosemary Kaholokula Prosecutor Rich Weyrich Forensic Interview Specialist Deborah Ridgeway

The Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney’s team of leaders brings their personal commitment, judicial authority, and valuable resources to ensure children who are sexually abused receive justice and healing in a child sensitive and nurturing way. Without the leadership and direction of Prosecutor Weyrich, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Rosemary Kaholokula, and Forensic Interview Specialist Deborah Ridgeway, there would not be a Children’s Advocacy Center in our community. The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has committed staff to key leadership roles that have led to historic changes in our community’s methods of child abuse investigation and prosecution. They are one of the few Prosecuting Attorney’s Offices in the state who has dedicated resources to hiring and training a forensic interviewer for a Children’s Advocacy Center and providing a service dog (named Monroe) who is a reassuring and gentle reminder to the children that the Children’s Advocacy Center is a safe and nurturing place for them to find healing and justice. Because of the Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney’s office vision and perseverance, children who are sexually abused receive the most nurturing and effective community response possible. ~Written by Byron Manering in the nomination letter