Kaaren Hayes 2014 Great Friend to Families Award Winner!

13 Helping Hands and Helping Arts Honored at the event

Radio personality Sheri Lynch was the featured speaker at our Great Friend to Families Award luncheon on March 22 at the Reich College of Education. Seven "Helping Hands" winners and six "Helping Hearts" were honored at the luncheon and Kaaren Hayes, the long time director of Parent to Parent was the overall winner.

Great Friend to Families AwardThe Great Friend to Families Award recognizes sustained contributions by individuals to the well-being of young children and their families in the High Country area.  Awards will be given in two categories, Helping Hands (those who help families through their careers) and Helping Hearts (those who help through generous philanthropy and/or outstanding volunteerism).

This year's Helping Hands award winners are Jennifer Grubb Warren, Ned Fowler, Mark Freed, Kaaren Hayes, Tiffany Minton,Todd Mortensen, and Bobbie Willard. The Hellping Hearts are Fred Abernethy, Sarah Griffith Hawkins, Rebekah Gyger, Meggan Knight, Elizabeth (Libba) Moore, and Jan Rienerth. Click here to find out more about the award winners.

The award winners in each category will be honored at a luncheon on Saturday, March 22nd at the Reich College of Education at Appalachian State University. One overall winner will be presented with a framed photograph by Dwight Miller and $500 to donate to the High Country nonprofit of their choice. The winner will be chosen by a distinguished committee of local leaders: Jim Atkinson (last year's winner), Sara Mayhew, and Kay Stacy.

The award was presented at a luncheon on Saturday March 22nd which Sheri Lynchalso featured a speech by Sheri Lynch of Charlotte’s the LINK Radio Network. Lynch is the author of two humorous books on her parenting experiences. Lynch's funny, heartfelt speech highlighted the contributions of each honoree.

The 2014 Great Friend to Families Awards are sponsored by the Reich College of Education, Anonymous, Mast General Store, the Transcendental Meditation Center of Boone, Earth Fare Boone, Mast Farm Inn, and Panera.

This is the 6th year the awards have been given. Past over-all winners include Judith Winecoff, Pat Morgan, Dick and Joan Hearn, Trish Lanier, and Jim Atkinson. A complete list of all past honorees is on the museum’s website.  The Playhouse stipulates that while a Helping Hands or Helping Hearts honoree may be recognized multiple times, he or she may only be win the overall Great Friend to Families Award once.

The luncheon will also raise funds to support family resource services at The Children’s Playhouse, enabling the children’s museum to provide scholarship memberships to low-income families, offer more programs for children, and improve their exhibits.

About the 2013 Awards

The 2013 overall winner was Jim Atkinson of the Watauga County Department of Social Services.

The 2013 Helping Hands award winners are Jim Atkinson of the Watauga County Department of Social Services; Renee Boughman of FARM Cafe; Lucy Hoffman of Avery Amigos and WAMY Community Action;
Edith Mubanda, Laurie Cimino, and Eloisa Hernandez-Ruiz of the Watauga County Health Dept. WIC Program; Kelly Sheets Snider of Two Rivers Community School;  Nancee Pond of the teen parent GED program; and Lillian Worley of the Appalachian District Health Department dental office.

The 2013 Helping Hearts are volunteers who give generously of their time and treasure to the organizations listed after their names:  Amber Bateman  (Quiet Givers), Leigh Girard (Temple of the High Country Sisterhood, Children’s Council of Watauga County), Evelyn Shook Johnson (Kiwanis, Watauga County Library, Watauga Baptist Church), Roachel Laney (Special Olympics, Victory Junction Gang Camp, Santa’s Toy Box and the Red Cross), Mary Mast (Watauga County Schools), Amber Mellon (Girl Scouts, Watauga County Schools, The Children’s Playhouse) and Madison Welch (Hunger Coalition, Who Needs a Change?,  Humane Society). Evelyn Shook Johnson's award is being given posthumously.

About the 2012 Great Friend to Families Award

The winner of the 2012 award was Trish Lanier of the Appalachian Regional Health Department. The Helping Hands award winners are Jim Atkinson, Nancy Blair, Barbara Case, Heather Jordan, Crystal Kelly, Trish Lanier, Margaret Mullins, Gay Lynn Williams, Mary Willis, and Joan Zimmerman.

The Helping Hearts are Susan Bolash, Christopher Clark, Kathleen Collins, Rebekah Cummings, Beth Darnell, Carolyn Garland, Betty Green, Jack and Karen James, Jo Anne Jenkins, Diandra (Lynn) Patterson, Bob and Wimmy Powell, Kim Roberts, and Catherine Wilkinson.

About the 2011 Great Friend to Families Award

The joint winners of the 2011 award were Dick and Joan Hearn, community volunteers who have touched a wide variety High Country nonprofits ranging from the Watauga County Public Library "Reading and Rolling" program, to the High Country United Way, to the Guardian Ad Litem, and many more. The distinguished nominees were Caroline Bond, Kathy Cottrell, Shirlee Edwards, Eric Henderson, Denise Jones, Blowing Rock CARES (Trish Kohlasch, Linda Laughter, and Liz Tincher), Vicki Krueger, Beth Lawrence, Lee Marshall, Elaine Rothenberg, Lee Ryan, Chad Slagle, Donna Soule, Sherry Street Tobin, and Cheryl Williams.

About 2010 Great Friend to Families Award

The winner of the 2010 award was Pat Morgan, a longtime community volunteer who has read to children in local elementary schools for decades, organized many events benefitting families, and took rural children on trips to Washington D.C. Morgan designated that his award go to children's collection at the Watauga County Public Library. The twenty distinguished nominees in 2010 were Julie Bostick; Kim Carter, Ashley McKinney, and Laureen Vilas; Matthew Crawford; Angie Dolen; Shirlee Gaines Edwards; Susan Jones; Kaaren Hayes; Dick and Joan Hearn; Virginia MacLeod; Pat Morgan; Tammy Nelson; Carrington Pertalion; Denise Presnell; Susan Weinberg; Delores Wilder; Roberta Yates; and Joan Zimmerman.

About the 2009 Great Friend to Families Award

The first winner of the Great Friend to Families award was Watauga County Children's Librarian Judith Winecoff and she designated the $500 prize to go to the Hunger and Health Coalition. A total of sixteen local citizens--Cynthia Brown-Greer, Laurie Cimino, Lindsay Cobb, Doug Galke, Kaaren Hayes, Karen James, Natalie Lewis, Karee Mackey, Todd Nolt, Sherrie Norris, Jane Penley, Denise Presnell, Jan Rienerth, Robin Triplett, Mary Willis, and Judith Winecoff—were nominated for the first ever award presented by the Children’s Playhouse. Click here for an overview of the 2009 nominees.