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FSNH Annual Meeting 2014
PENACOOK - "When I began work in childcare in the 80s, I didn't get a chance to work with families very much ... You could see the stressed out parents dropping their children off in the morning, the kids crying. And, I wanted to do something about that," said JoAnn Cobb, LICSW, on Tuesday while accepting the Robert Chamberlin Award at the Family Support NH annual meeting.
In towns throughout New Hampshire, people like Joann work at family resource centers wanting to ease the stressors of family-life in their community. These community-based centers provide information and support to any family entering their doors. In communities that do not have family resource centers, there are programs that provide the same kinds of services but do not act as a gathering place for families. Family Support NH held their annual meeting at Camp Spaulding Tuesday to discuss this year's accomplishments and honor two peers for their hard work.
JoAnn, the recipient of the Robert Chamberlin Award, has worked at Child and Family Services for over 21 years and has been the Program Director of Early Childhood Services for most of that time. She has been an instrumental part in the establishment of a number of programs now existing to help families in need of a little, or a lot, of support. She supervises a wide array of NH programs serving families and occasionally provides family counseling. Additionally, she is active in several boards and committees, including Spark NH, Project Launch Leadership and the NH Infant Mental Health Association. JoAnn has been a was a champion for establishing family resource center collaboratives in Manchester, Nashua, Concord and Littleton.
"Dr. Chamberlin is a tireless advocate for children and families ... This year's award winner is no different, " says Maria Gagnon, senior vice president/chief operating officer at Child and Family Services, as she introduced the award, "She provides opportunities for families to learn and to grow. She wants parents to become successful and raise healthy children."
Robert Chamberlin Award recognizes a professional who has had a statewide impact on children and families who has worked in New Hampshire at least 10 years. Robert Chamberlin is a pediatrician who is a strong advocate and champion for family resource centers and helped establish the first one in New Hampshire in the 1990's.
Amy Finkle, the recipient of the FSNH Kay Sidway Award for Family Support but was unable to attend the meeting, has worked at Child and Family Services for the past 15 years in the Littleton office. In addition to her working with families directly, she works with many in NH to help strengthen families int he northern part of the state. According to the FSNH Annual Meeting program, "she is responsive to families, knowledgable about resources and known for her work to support, advocate for and support families."
The FSNH Kay Sidway Award for Family Support, recognizes a professional serving children and families with direct services - "on the ground." This award in honors another pioneer and champion of family support who also was instrumental in establishing family resource centers in New Hampshire, Kay Sidway.
Amy's absence from the meeting was expressed with compassion. She could not attend because she was serving a family in crisis, precisely where family resource center worker's priorities lie, with the family who needs them.
Family Support NH serves as the statewide network of the state's family resource centers and family support programs.
JoAnn says, "You have to go to school and you have to learn and you have to get degrees - and still get paid so low. But you do what you have to do because you have a passion and you want to make a difference."