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Children's Playhouse seeks a 'High Country Hero'

Article Published: Dec. 17, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

The Children's Playhouse in Boone is once again in search of a special resident of the High Country whose greatest joy comes from helping kids and families and who will be named the 2010 winner of the Great Friend to Families Award.

The award recognizes sustained contributions by an individual to the well-being of young children and their families in the High Country area. The award winner will be presented with a piece of stained glass by artist Julie Reed Neal and $500 to donate to the High Country charity of their choice.

Nomination forms are available online at the Web site and members of the community and nonprofits are encouraged to nominate their favorite friend, a spokesperson for the Playhouse said.

Forms can also be requested by calling The Children's Playhouse at 828-263-0011.

The winner will be chosen by a committee of local leaders, including last year's winner and Watauga County children's librarian Judith Winecoff.

The deadline for nominations is Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Playhouse president Megan Ellis said that the definition of a "Great Friend to Families" is intentionally broad.

The winner might be a teacher, doctor, nurse, coach, social worker, philanthropist, or volunteer, she said. It might be a person who has raised thousands of dollars for High Country charities, or someone who has created new programs to meet the needs of local families. "We are looking for someone who has made significant efforts to make our community a better place for children and families" said Kathy Parham, executive director of The Children's Playhouse.

The award will be presented at a luncheon on Friday, Jan. 29, which will also feature a speech by world-renowned writer and educator Nikki Giovanni, who was recently named one of Oprah Winfrey's 25 "Living Legends."

Author of more than 30 books for adults and children, including the Caldecott honor book "Rosa about Rosa Parks," Giovanni is an especially inspiring speaker for this event, Ellis said.
All nominees are honored for their work at the ceremony.

The response to the first award, given in February 2009, was tremendous, Parham said.
"We had 17 nominees and it was so great to give them all a little of the recognition they deserved," she said.

A nominee honored for her lifetime of volunteer work across the community, magazine editor/food columnist Sherrie Norris wrote, "What an honor it was to be among those individuals nominated for the award ... We were all treated like royalty during [the] luncheon/presentation."

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, to offer free parenting classes for community members, and to build its free lending library of parenting books and developmental toys.

The award is consistent with the mission of The Children's Playhouse, which is to provide children with an enriching, educational play environment, while at the same time offering their parents and caregivers friendly support in the important job of raising children, Parham said.

"It is our effort to reach out to the community and to honor significant efforts that share our values, Parham said.

Sponsors, both individuals and local businesses, for the award are still being sought. For more information, contact Parham at (

Tickets to the luncheon will go on sale on the Playhouse Web site on Jan. 8.

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