The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

December 25, 2013

‘Heroes’ honored for fighting child poverty


— Seven activists from around the state have been recognized as heroes for fighting child poverty.

The seven were presented framed certificates and bright red hero capes by the “Our Children, Our Future Campaign to End Child Poverty” coalition during its annual meeting here.

Honored were:

-- Rick Hodges: The coalition said he is a single parent from Kanawha County who has volunteered more than 40 hours a week in his school and community. “I enjoy it,” Hodges said. “I like helping people. I’ve met so many good people in the last four or five years. It has changed me.”

-- Karen Williams: A champion of the Head Start program, the coalition said Williams resigned from her position as director of Kanawha County Head Start so others on her staff could keep their jobs. Williams said, “Let’s work together to meet our goals.”

-- The Lubeck United Methodist Church, Wood County: The church’s program to feed kids and families when there is no school is one of the state’s largest. “The children are learning to give back by the example the church has set,” said Deborah Shaffer, Parkersburg regional director of Catholic Charities West Virginia.

-- The Taylor County Collaborative Family Resource Network and its executive director, Walesca Marrero: The FRN was honored for its efforts in the region.

-- Rick Wilson, Rick Goff and Sen. John Unger: Wilson is director of the American Friends Service Committee’s West Virginia Economic Justice Project; Goff is executive director of the state Department of Education’s Office of Child Nutrition; and Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, is the majority leader in the state Senate. Unger and Goff spearheaded the passage of the Feed to Achieve Act in last year’s legislative session and Wilson led the community response to the bill, the coalition said.

Goff said, “I think you guys are the real heroes. I think you guys fight to win. That’s what we try to do.”