In April, one of Page's own will be honored in Flagstaff at the 2019 Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth Conference. Debbie Winlock, the Page Community Service Director will be receiving the Caring for Children Award.
Of 16 nominees only six were chosen this year. We spoke with Virginia Watahomigie, Executive Direction for the Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth, and she was kind enough to provide us some insight as to how Debbie was chosen for this amazing award.
Throughout her time as the Community Service Director, Debbie has built up the library as a place for kids and teens to go for activities after school, on weekends, and during the summer. With few activities outside of school for the local youth, Debbie’s work has been a blessing, with obtaining grants for some of the activities such as cooking classes for teens, and her outside of the box thinking which has brought in Nerf wars after hours at the library. Debbie is also able to identify programs that teens like to attend.
Some of the unseen things Debbie has done for the youth of the community has been starting BFF, or Books For Families. Debbie takes books to businesses that are kid and youth friendly so while parents are conducting their business, children have access to age appropriate reading material.
According to the nomination, she also has been a driving force behind fairs geared toward the local youth such as Kids UpCycle, a Teen Job Fair, and Early Literacy.
The Conference will be hosting an awards luncheon on April 18 in Flagstaff, where Debbie and five others will receive their Caring for Children Awards for their commitment towards the children and youth of their respective communities, and the youth of Coconino County.
Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth has been active for over 40 years and has become a link where support and services for children and youth are brought together so the children and youth throughout Coconino County have the resources and support they need to reach their full potential.
The Caring for Children Award was started in 2003, and since then over 60 awards have been presented, three of which LPNN was able to confirm have been Page residents. Debbie makes Page resident number four to receive this special honor.
Here is what Debbie's nomination form said about her, and why she should receive this year's award:
Under Debbie’s leadership, the library has become the focal point of activities after school, weekends, and summer. She has initiated both recreational and educational programs to supplement the shortage in our remote community. Without these programs our youth and children would be severely limited in life skills necessary to thrive in this world.
Debbie contributes to programs directed towards children from infancy to five years including having a seat for ten years on the First Things First’s counsel; Storytime both at the library, on-site at stores, businesses, and the local nursing home; providing socialization/activities across cultures and age groups. Reading and math skills development is a priority for Debbie with this age group. Bringing Early Literacies and Math Talk workshops to the library is changing lives.
Beside the public school and charter school children the youth group from our neighboring behavioral facility and the homeschoolers in the area are especially appreciative of Debbie’s efforts to assimilate them. Elementary school programs like Book Tasting, STEAM, Crafternooners, Legos and gaming keep the latch-key kid off the street in a safe environment.
Teens have always been close to Debbie’s heart. Introducing Teen After Hours was a stroke of genius on her part. Junior high students participate from 7-9 PM and Senior High students have the library to themselves from 9-12 on Friday nights. Nerf wars are one of the most popular activities and attendance is off the charts, pizza is a pretty big hit too.
Debbie has improved summer and introduced winter reading programs for children and teens. Thousands of books are read, and minutes spent reading by both the children and their parents. They are phenomenal programs. She has started the BFF, Books for Families by taking books to businesses so while parents are doing business the children have access to books.
Debbie is the driving force behind teen programs that teens like to attend, quite an achievement! Through her diligent grant writing, she has brought exciting opportunities to any team interested in learning many unique skills. Twice a week, teens join an instructor and have access to musical equipment giving them a chance to learn or develop their musical talents. Another one of these programs is their Teen Cooking classes, teaching the youth how to create and serve dishes and give a healthy option. And best of all, it’s all free!
Our community center has changed from just open to seniors to incorporate the youth providing programs to youth which include foosball, pool, large screen gaming and more. This gives the youth of Page abilities to hang out with friend’s afterschool in a safe environment.
Debbie has been actively volunteering for nearly 6 years in the community’s AWANA program helping students read and memorize scripture. Although Debbie holds a position with the City of Page, I have witnessed her go above and beyond to enrich and develop the youth of her city through programs and a rich environment. Through events such as Christmas in the Park, and Movies in the Park Debbie has opened up an opportunity for the children to have safe and fun family experiences in a remote area that has limited activities. Fairs such as the Early Literacy, Kids UpCycle, and the Teen Job Fair are some examples of what Debbie has provided to our children and Youth.
She has been a treasure to our city youth and should be recognized for her work. No words can explain how much she has done for our city. Just the other day I witnessed a young lady leaving roses for Debbie to thank her for her help. When Debbie got the roses she said, ‘This is what it’s all about; there’s no other job I’d rather do then this one’. Please accept this nomination for Debbie Winlock who has a HUGE heart for our children/youth!
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