Unsung Hero Awards 2013

Concord, NH - February 19, 2013 - Over 150 parents, children and supporters gathered in Governor and Council Chambers at the New Hampshire State House for the 6th annual Unsung Hero Awards Celebration. With Governor Maggie Hassan, the New Hampshire Children's Trust/Prevent Child Abuse New Hampshire presented 28 awards, one for each day of the month to honor and recognize parents and caregivers. The honorees were nominated from all regions of New Hampshire and as a group, the Unsung Heroes reflected the diversity of New Hampshire’s population and the values and traditions that make New Hampshire a wonderful place for children and families.

Dr. Peirce Hunter of Bow, chairman of the board of the New Hampshire Children's Trust, welcomed families and friends.  Dr. Hunter said that "the Unsung Heroes have attributes known as Protective Factors present in their lives which play a major role in building a strong healthy family and a vibrant community. These Heroes show resiliency; have good support systems; know where to go for help; and they have compassion and knowledge of their child's development. With these attributes a family can handle most anything that comes their way in times of stress and uncertainty and children are happier!"

Governor Hassan issued a Proclamation declaring February as Parent Recognition month, acknowledging that more parents each year are developing vital partnerships with service providers, policymakers, and key stakeholders to shape policy and serve as responsible role models for parents across the state, creating safer communities for children.

The New Hampshire Children's Trust is committed to eliminating child abuse and neglect by helping families to build protective factors that buffer them in times of extreme stress.  It is an honor to recognize ordinary parents for being heroes to their children and role models for their community.

  • Elizabeth Alisandro, Manchester

    Elizabeth is an African refugee who arrived in the US at the age of 8 years old. She is the oldest of nine children and a single mother who puts her family first and commits her time to understanding the developmental and emotional needs of her son.

  • Janice Bordeleau, Manchester

    Janice is a Head Start parent, who is a true advocate for her two children and five step-children, while also experiencing her own disability. She always knows when to ask for help and is always willing to give back to the community.

  • Donna Coraluzzo, Dover

    She is the Executive Director of the Dover Children’s Home in addition to being an outstanding biological, adoptive, and foster mother and a grandmother. She has overcome adversity and has become a role model to the community by providing those around her with love and support.

  • Angelique Demanche, Nashua

    As a single mother of five children, Angel has overcome many obstacles in order to support her family. She is a true advocate for all of her children, especially for her son with special needs, and lives by the rule that all children are special.

  • Kellie Denoncourt, Concord

    Kellie is a mom to four biological children, one adoptive child, and has also opened her heart and home to be a guardian for at-risk teens. She has not only taught all of her children to be kind, respectful, and outgoing but has also strived to make a difference in the community. She, along with other mothers who have experienced parenting difficulties, has created a mothers network that now spans the country.

  • Donald and Dannielle Dube, Nashua

    Dannielle and Donald are raising their two teenage sons as well as their young grandson. While overcoming challenges they continue to stay positive and devote much of their time to supporting their grandson’s academic and emotional needs.

  • Matthew Fox, Canterbury

    After recently losing his wife to a long hard-fought battle against breast cancer, Matthew has recently become a single father to five children. In addition to running his own business, he has provided a stable home and has made sure to maintain a routine with his children. He has carefully and respectfully honored his wife by incorporating memories into his family’s daily lives and has saved memorabilia for his children to ensure their memories of her remain clear.

  • Tom and Peggy Greco, Claremont

    Tom and Peggy have been licensed foster parents for four years and had their first placement turn into their first adoption. They have recently been caring for a young boy and jumped at the opportunity to foster his younger sibling as well so they could be together. Tom and Peggy have shown commitment to children, birth family involvement and maintaining connections.

  • Nicole Gulleson, Colebrook

    Nicole is a single mother who moved to NH to make sure her child would have a good life. She is committed to caring for and supporting her daughter and is very eager to learn about her daughter’s development. She approaches every obstacle with a “can do” attitude and uses the support of her community to help her successfully raise her daughter.

  • Melissa Hilton, Jaffrey

    Melissa is a single mom to a young boy who lives on the autism spectrum. When Melissa saw her son being isolated from his peers at school and realized that it had been going on for a significant amount of time, she made sure to find a school where her son’s needs would be met. She has become an advocate, gone back and has worked with her son’s previous school to change the policy of using seclusion and restraints on the children.

  • Hiedi Hilton, Somersworth

    Hiedi experienced the loss of her son, Owen, at the young age of two months old. She has decided to honor him by creating the organization, TEAM O.W.E.N, an organization that collects goods and provides resources to assist families in NH who are struggling financially with children in need. She has found a way to turn her grief into something positive all while raising two young girls.

  • Jay and Sally Jason, Claremont

    Jay and Sally have been licensed foster parents in NH for 13 years and have helped countless children thrive and connect with their biological families. They have helped the children build self-esteem, independent living skills, and trust all while working with the child’s birth parents on reunification efforts and helping to identify adoptive parents when a child cannot be reunified

  • Christine Johnson, North Haverhill

    Christine has overcome many life changing obstacles; especially when in August 2011 her family was displaced by Hurricane Irene. She is also an advocate for her son’s educational and developmental needs. She is always willing to volunteer at her child’s school and is never afraid to ask for help in her family’s time of need. Christine doesn’t let the obstacles she endures overcome her; she strives to improve both her own and her family’s lives.

  • Christine Letendre, Pembroke

    Christine is a dedicated single mother to her 2 1/2 year old daughter, Brynlee, who has a rare form of brain cancer. Christine has strived to attend to all of her daughter’s needs by reaching out into the community for help and support. Christine has left her job since her daughter’s diagnosis to be home to care for her daughter and to make sure her daughter is receiving the best possible care. Christine is able to look past her daughter’s cancer and embrace her daughter for who she is, her best friend.

  • Helene Lorden, Concord

    She is the legal guardian and “parent” of her five grandchildren whom she has gained custody of when she saw it was necessary for their safety and well-being. She has always asked for help when needed and never gives up when challenges arise. She has connected with local parenting classes and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Groups to better equip herself with parenting.

  • Merrianne McDonald, Salem

    Merrianne has raised two grandsons with intellectual disabilities while working a full time job for over 25 years. She has worked with DCYF to establish a grandparent support group as well as being involved with the Parent Partnership Program and she strives to help as many children and families as possible with whatever challenges they may face. She advocates for any family who may need assistance.

  • Richard and Jamie Morse, Goffstown

    Richard and Jamie are active members in the military and are parents to a six year old boy who is autistic, and have another child on the way. They have continuously reached out for more information about autism and have connected with resources that can help them better understand autism and how they can help their child succeed in life.

  • Lucy Murayda, Concord

    Lucy is the single mother to her daughter Josey, who is blind. Lucy has made sure Josey is given endless opportunities and experiences to be involved in the community such as singing the national anthem, and meeting the President and First Lady. She has created beautiful memories for her daughter; all while persevering through tough times and being a devoted and caring mother to her daughter.

  • Becky and Steve Orton, Gilford

    Becky and Steve lost a son when he succumbed to severe disabilities a few years ago. Though their son’s death had left them with a hole in their heart, they felt the need to give back to the community and knew that they had the skills, love, and strength to care for a child with disabilities. Becky became a licensed foster parent in June 2011 and the Orton’s have since adopted a baby boy and a 7 year old boy with medicals disabilities. They adore these little boys and feel blessed to have them in their lives.

  • Tara Pitarys, Londonderry

    Tara is a married mother of four children, who first came to The Upper Room 14 years ago when she was a single mother to her 4 year old daughter. She wanted to make sure her children would live in a healthy family after her own childhood experiences. Tara has been an advocate for her children and other families whose children may be experiencing emotional and learning issues and has been an active member of The Upper Room’s “Families Reaching Our Goals” group.

  • Donald Reinhold, Seabrook

    Donald is a single father raising three children and two grandchildren. Donald has overcome financial hardships and has reached out for services when he felt it was necessary to provide for his family. Throughout all of the changes in his life he has stayed a stable, loving, and kind father who also helps out in the community.

  • Walter Sombric, Charleston

    Walter is a father to four children, and has been an active parent at his child’s Head Start. Walter is always volunteering to help out in any way he can, whether it be taking on a cleaning position at Head Start, odd jobs around the classroom to lending a helping hand to fix or assemble products. He serves on the SCS Policy Council and Parent Association. When his family runs into trouble Walter reaches out for assistance to fix the problem as quickly as possible, always putting others before himself.

  • Lena Trombly, Hillsborough

    Lena is a loving mother to a son with sensory integration syndrome and a daughter who was born prematurely and suffering from chronic kidney disease. Lena recently underwent surgery to donate a kidney to her daughter in order to provide her with a chance for a great future. Lena is also working on helping her son get the appropriate services he needs at school. Lena is a great mother and has coped with it all amazingly well.

  • Phil Trowbridge, Concord

    Phil was a licensed foster parent for more than five years and involved himself in the school and community in every way from being a coach to attending special education team meetings. Phil has continued to be a support for young adults who have aged out of the foster care system. He has supported three young men over the last three years by providing them with housing and meals, and helping them finish school.

  • Evangelos Valeras, Nashua

    He and his wife have been committed to raising their son, who has significant cognitive and physical disabilities, as well as two other children. They didn’t see his disabilities as impeding him, rather who he is and part of what makes him so wonderful and loving. After losing his wife suddenly, Evangelos assumed full care of his son with outstanding commitment. 

  • Tracy Walbridge, Rochester

    Tracy is a single mother of three children; one of whom is autistic. Tracy has gone above and beyond to learn about disabilities and autism and is an advocate for children with disabilities. She has found programs to help her autistic daughter begin her communication skills and has found programs for her other two sons to enhance their interests.

  • Cynthia Wallace, Franklin

    Cynthia is a devoted mother to three children; one with a very critical health condition. She has always advocated for her son but has also let him take a strong role in the direction of his life. She balances her time to meet the needs of all of her children and has created a wonderful family of where the lines of communication are very open, honest, and supportive.

  • Susan and Anthony White, Manchester

    Susan and Anthony are parents to a five month old daughter who was born prematurely and with multiple serious health complications. Susan and Anthony have been successfully caring for their infant with love, guidance, and dedication. They have created a great support system for their family and continue to gain knowledge of their daughter’s illness and they have asked for help when they need it.