Donald Promnitz/The Madera Tribune
From left, Child Abuse Prevention Month office decorating contest winner Chowchilla Medical Center, Clara Miranda; Madera County Adult Services Probation, Jose Pantoja; Hands on Hero recipients early care and education, Michelle Oberti Desmond; child-friendly business, Ryan McWherter; and child health, Dr. Maria Revilla were recognized during a ceremony at First 5 Madera County on Monday. (Not pictured: Family strengthening, Richard Delgado; and exceptional volunteer, Maria Vargas.)
Dozens of people were recognized for their work in helping children in their community at the Hands-On Hero Awards put on by First 5 Madera County.
“That’s why we’re here today,” said First 5 Madera County executive director Chinayera Black-Hardaman, “to celebrate everything that you all do towards improving early child development.”
An awards ceremony at Madera Family Resource Center on Monday was part of celebrations for Week of the Young Child. Several prominent Maderans spoke, including keynote speaker and former Madera mayor Marge Medellin. She emphasized educating children from an early age.
“Now I read to my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren, and I have a 6-year-old that I take care of,” Medellin said. “She’s in kindergarten, but she’s reading at a 2nd grade level because she sees her grandma reading every day. She has her books to read, so she reads a page to me, (and) I read a page to her.”
Other recipients were Ryan McWherter, Michelle Oberti Desmond, Dr. Maria Revilla, Richard Delgado and Maria Vargas.
The awards were given for service in such avenues as healthcare, education and volunteer work for children. Twenty-five other nominees received certificates of recognition as thanks for their work.
The awards were presented by Fresno broadcaster and “Great Day” host Kopi Sotiropulos, who also addressed the importance of children pursuing their passions.
“Get that education, get that foundation and go for it, because you don’t want to regret it, not doing what’s in your heart and what your dream is,” Sotiropulos said. “And that’s what I tell kids, and hopefully they listen, and it sinks in, and it affects them as they go through life.”
At the conference, First 5 Madera County also introduced their special projects for child development, including the Mobile Vision Unit, which is aimed at detecting early vision problems in children.