Unsung Hero Awards 2014

Concord, NH – February 10, 2014 – Most parents receiving Unsung Hero Awards had one thing in common – they didn’t think they deserved it. And, that is why we think they do.

“I was really surprised, I just do what I have to do,” said one mother who was recognized for overcoming tough times in 2013.

Roughly 100 parents, children and supporters gathered in Governor and Council Chambers at the New Hampshire State House for the 7th annual Unsung Hero Awards ceremony. The New Hampshire Children’s Trust/Prevent Child Abuse New Hampshire presented 27 awards, to honor and recognize the extraordinary parents and caregivers who go above and beyond to be the best parents that they can be. The honorees, who were nominated by family and friends, came 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 continue to make New Hampshire a wonderful place for children and families.

To begin the ceremony, Governor Maggie Hassan issued a Proclamation declaring February as Parent Recognition month, acknowledging that each year more parents 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. Although Governor Hassan was unable to stay for the entirety of the ceremony, her brief presence made the event more unforgettable for the Unsung Heroes and their families.

"I am beyond honored to have been nominated and chosen to receive the Unsung Heroes award"

- Michelle Woltering, 2014 Unsung Hero.

"It was such a wonderful event to be a part of. I was honored and humbled"

Patty Hoeker, 2014 Unsung Hero

"[My family] had a great time...everyone was warm and welcoming."

- Joann Kleyensteuber, 2014 Unsung Hero

"I knew some of the people who received the award. I met them years later, and they still glowed when they talked about it! It was a life changing event for them, validating and helped them cement a new, more positive sense of who they were."

- Susie Bright, NH Children's Trust volunteer

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.

  • Bobbie and Keith Bagley, Londonderry

    Bobbie and Keith were nominated for this award by Theresa Colope-Yaklin. Bobbie and Keith are the adoptive parents of two teenagers, and are wonderful role models for the two. They have opened their home and hearts for these children and have become advocates for them. They have helped raise these children by supporting them and encouraging them to the best they can be.  

  • Cayla Baily, Berlin

    Cayla was nominated for this award by Gina Belanger. Cayla is an amazing mother for her two year old daughter. She has overcome so many obstacles in her past and has worked hard for a positive future for herself and her daughter. She continues to be positive and stay strong as she builds a wonderful life for her family. 

  • Jennifer Beike, Manchester

    Jennifer was nominated for this award by Gina Dwire. Jennifer is a very caring and involved parent in her community who would go above and beyond for her family. She is able to overcome challenges by striving to better her life for her children and make sure they are well cared for. She stays actively involved in their lives by serving on the Southern New Hampshire Services policy council and volunteering her time in the classroom. She never misses a family night, and is always looking for opportunities that will benefit her children. 

  • Ann Marie Bull, Rochester

    Anne Marie was nominated for this award by Pamela Hofley. Anne Marie is the proud grandmother, and guardian, to her grandson. She has had to overcome many obstacles due to the number of health challenges her grandson faces, including Down Syndrome and Crohn’s Disease, but she never gives up. She is so devoted to being an advocate for her grandson and is a warm, caring person not only to him but to everyone in her life. 

  • Kathy and Allen Bunker, South Tamworth

    Kathy and Allen were nominated for this award by Kelley Marcello. They are the adoptive parents of three siblings and they have opened their hearts and home to these children. Not only do they have an amazing relationship with the children, but they also have maintained a relationship with the biological mother to help the transition process be smooth for the children. They have shown true dedication and support as parents. 

  • Theresa M. Cromwell, Northfield

    Theresa was nominated for this award by Joan Valk. Theresa is a single mother to six boys and does everything she can to provide for them and give them an environment where they can thrive. She has had to overcome many challenges, including a fire to her home and a car accident, but even with those things, she stays persistent to bettering her life for her children. While focusing on her education, she stays supportive and involved in all aspects of her children’s lives. She has always been very involved in their community, serving as a parent leader and volunteering her time in various community agencies She is truly is a role model for her children and for others around her.

  • Heather Donnell, Rochester

    Heather was nominated for this award by Sara Weeks. Heather is a single mother to two children. She has had to overcome many obstacles with her youngest child, who has Down Syndrome and other health concerns. Heather always puts her children first and spends much of her time making sure they are cared for, safe and feel loved. 

  • Erin Fedas, Nashua

    Erin was nominated for this award by Melissa Ballard Sullivan. Erin is a single mother and has dedicated herself to bettering her life for her daughter. She recently went through some personal struggles, but she has shown strength by continuing her education and pursing a degree in dental hygiene. Erin sets examples for others by giving back to her community. She has learned to decrease the stress in her life and focus on increasing positive relationships for herself and for herdaughter. Even though she has her own busy schedule, she manages to promote a healthy lifestyle for her daughter and stay involved in her activities. 

  • Kimberly Goodwin, Glen

    Kimberly was nominated for this award by Kelley Marcello and Jackie Sparks. Kimberly is a foster parent and has welcomed two sisters into her home. She has dedicated herself to nurturing and advocating for these girls. Although it has required her to take an extended leave of absence from her job, she knows that it will only benefit the family. She is a true advocate for these girls, and her devotion, love and support will benefit the children in a positive way. 

  • Heather Gorecki, Claremont

    Heather was nominated for this award by Erin Kelly. Heather is a Head Start parent and volunteer, a true advocate, supporter and role model to her four children. She goes above and beyond to benefit her children’s lives, and always stays involved in their activities. She is not only supportive to her children, but also to the other parents in the community. She provides a warm, loving environment that helps her children flourish. 

  • Brenda Groulx, Belmont

    Brenda was nominated for this award by Katherine Peringer. She has been parenting her grandson who suffers from many challenges and is wheel chair bound. She is focused on helping him develop skills and improve his life as best she can. She is a magnificent woman who shows it with her love and devotion to her grandson.  

  • Jay and Tami Henry, Jackson

    Jay and Tami were nominated for this award by Barbara Ross and Cathy Livingston. They have two daughters and they play very active roles in their lives. Recently they were contacted about being an emergency placement for their great nephew, and Jay and Tami took him in with open arms. Their nephew has many chronic challenges and medical issues that they have had to overcome, but the two of them have provided love and an environment for him to succeed.  Tami has changed her jobs in order to accommodate the needs of her children, and the couple has agreed to provide a permanent home, if needed. They are able to give all their children support and keep positive relationship in their lives. 

  • Patty Hoeker, Bow

    Patty was nominated for this award by a friend who chose to stay anonymous. In the past year, Patty’s family faced a few rough patches. Her son was dealing with post-concussion syndrome, and her daughter was faced with a scary back injury and it was questioned if she would ever walk on her own again. Even though things had changed in her life, she never complained and continued to provide love and support for her children. She stayed positive and was able to change her work hours so she could provide the care that her children needed. Patty doesn’t let the obstacles she endures overcome her; she strives to improve both her own and her family’s lives.  

  • Colleen Jalbert, Rollinsford

    Colleen was nominated for this award by Denise Day. She is the single mother of two children, who both have significant challenges. Her youngest son has autism and her oldest son has seizure disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite all the challenges her family is faced with, she has stayed persistent. She will do anything to find the best support for her children. Colleen has to balance a full time job, taking care of the home, and meeting the needs of her children, but through it all she shows support, love and happiness with her family. 

  • JoAnn Kleyensteuber, Claremont

    JoAnn was nominated for this award by Melony Williams. Jo Ann is a mother of three, and she truly exemplifies a mother who understands what her children need emotionally throughout their development. She is supportive and understands the social competence of her children She is a positive and respectful mother that understands how to balance her roles as a wife, mother and worker. She is kind and an inspiration to other parents around her. 

  • Autumn Levaille, Seabrook

    Autumn was nominated for this award by Valerie Desilets. Autumn is a warm and loving parent to her daughter. Not only does she provide support for her daughter, but also for her disabled husband. Autumn and her husband lost their other daughter to cancer. Despite such a difficult and tragic loss, they just look towards a brighter future to benefit their little girl. Autumn is an incredible person. She is compassionate, nurturing and provides unconditional love to everyone in her life and focuses her attention on bettering the life of her daughter. 

  • Yanhua Lui, Rochester

    Yanhua was nominated for this award by Jennifer Sherman. As a single mother of two, Yanhua has had to overcome many obstacles to support her family. She works in the Head Start program, and took the training to be a substitute teacher in the classrooms. She has changed her work schedule and added hours on weekends so that she can be home by the time the children get out of school. She is the perfect example of a parent that puts her children’s needs above all. She is a loving and caring mother that supports not just her children, but everyone with whom she comes in contact. 

  • Dianne Luneau, Laconia

    Dianne was nominated for this award by Cynthia Burns. Dianne is a single mother dedicated to her son who suffers from a condition called 4P minus Wolf Hirshhorn Syndrome. He requires round the clock care. Dianne provides much of the care herself, and has a caregiver for when she is at work. She is able to balance a full time job and care for her child. Dianne is constantly faced with the difficult decision of how she can better her son’s life. Even with all the stress, she shows strength and courage through her parenting. She shows her love and support to him every day. 

  • Cassandra McCarthy, Somersworth

    Cassandra was nominated for this award by Jennifer Halbach. Cassandra is a single mother to her daughter and plays an active role in her life. She shows her support through the Head Start Program, and plays a role on the parent committee. Cassandra has had to overcome obstacles in the past, but she has shown that she has the strength and love of a great parent. 

  • Jennifer and Thomas McWhinnie, Belmont

    Jennifer and Thomas were nominated by Alyssa Avery. Jennifer and Thomas are the nurturing, loving, and creative parents of four children. Their youngest son has unique needs and requires a little more attention and energy most days. The family has been able to adapt their routine and schedules to benefit their youngest son. Both parents are huge advocates for all their children, and understand how to meet all of their needs. They have provided a caring and flexible environment where all their children can thrive. 

  • David and Christine Phillips, Bedford

    David and Christine were nominated for this award by Rebecca Marden. David and Christine experienced an unexpected loss of their daughter to a disease knows as Pulmonary Veno Occlusive Disease (PVOD). Even in the wake of a devastating loss, they used the experience to dedicate their hearts, time and passion to help other families with this difficult adjustment. They found a website called ‘Bella Online- the Voice of Women’, and  Christine eventually took over the role of  Child Loss Editor for the site.  They also established the ‘Friends of Aine Foundation’ to raise funds and build centers of support for family members, including young siblings,  that have lost someone too soon. These two have truly found a way to turn grief into something positive. 

  • Trisha Simpson, Sunapee

    Trisha was nominated for this award by her sister, Tina Walker. Trisha and her husband have raised their children to be wonderful, mature, young men. Trisha was dedicated to seeing her children succeed and was never afraid to ask for help if she needed it. She showed great support by keeping close social ties throughout the school system and the sports her children played. She is always giving to others, including her children, and is a caring, loving mother. 

  • Theresa Terault, Keene

    Theresa was nominated for this award by Heather Smith. Theresa and her partner have provided love and care for her partner’s niece and nephew as they welcomed them into their home. Although the children have had inconsistency in the past, Theresa has provided a structured and stable home where they can grow and have open communication. Theresa has changed her own schedule to enable her to learn how to implement new parenting skills and support these children. Although She has faced challenges she works every day to improve the children’s lives and encourage them to succeed. 

  • Carol Urban, Derry

    Carol was nominated for this award by Katie Drift. Carol became her granddaughters’ foster parent when she was nine months old, and she went on to officially adopt her. Carol is extremely kind and gentle, and has enrolled her granddaughter in Head Start. Her granddaughter is faced with many challenges that Carol has worked hard to help her overcome. She provides a nurturing and loving home, and she is constantly a proactive role model for her granddaughter.

  • Heather Whipple-Simard, Francistown

    Heather was nominated for this award by Lena Trombly. Heather is a mother of 5 children, all with their own special needs.  With all of these challenges, Heather is an extremely busy woman, but she manages to stay very involved in all of her children’s lives. She makes sure they are getting the attention they need, and stays supportive and caring to each of them. She is part of a parent support group, and she is always willing and eager to help out new moms in the group. 

  • Kristin Wilson, West Lebanon

    Kristin was nominated for this award by Erica Stupka-Fisk. Kristin is a licensed foster parent and has helped countless children thrive in her home. She has had to overcome many difficulties with welcoming older children into her life, but she works to positively affect their lives. She has made a special connection with one young man she has had in her life. Even though he no longer lives in her home, Kristin shows her dedication by letting him know that her door is always open and she will always be there in times of need. She is caring and is always willing to help. 

  • Michele Woltering, Raymond

    Michele was nominated for this award by Lorraine Porter. Michelle is the foster mom of two twin boys, and the adoptive mother of a very energetic little girl. She has a huge heart and is patient and loving to all her children. She and her husband are always welcoming children into their homes. Michelle balances her job as a school nurse and being a mom. She is a supportive and caring mother.