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Strengthening Families Washington Unsung Hero: Shelly Willis

Seattle's Child is proud to once again sponsor the Unsung Heroes being honored in February by  the Department of Early Learning’s Strengthening Families Washington. Every day this month we'll present an Unsung Hero on seattleschild.com.   Nominations are accepted from around the state and and include biological parents, grandparents, foster and adoptive parents. Some volunteer at local schools; some have started nonprofit organizations; some mentor others in their communities. All honorees are true heroes - outstanding caregivers doing important work on behalf of children. 

February 1 2016

Unsung Hero: Shelly Willis, Olympia


It is with great admiration for Shelly Willis that we nominate her for the Unsung Hero Award, 2016. She is a natural for such recognition, just as she has been for other local and national awards, including the Brookdale Foundation Grandfamilies Award, through her professional accomplishments at the nonprofit Family Education and Support Services. 


Shelly has been a catalyst for change in her community and across the state, quietly gaining recognition and value for kinship caregivers as the backbone for families when needed. Her strengths are inherent with this “Unsung Hero” award (parental resilience, social connections, social and emotional competence of children, and concrete supports in times of need), but perhaps no more than in the area of “knowledge of parenting and child development”. 


As kinship caregiver to her niece, she offered a safe and nurturing place when needed, using her wisdom and knowledge to guide her niece through some difficult life experiences, and simply being present for her when needed. She provided a foundational place for her to learn a positive viewpoint of the world. 


In so doing, Shelly created an understanding of what kinship caregivers need and deserve in their daily sacrifices while raising children for others. Her experiences as a kinship caregiver have guided her in leading a renowned organization dedicated to healing and preserving families, all the while striving to heal her own.


February 2 Honoree: Yvette Dear

February 3 Honoree: Teresa Garcia


Nominators:  Hilarie Hauptman & Linda Porter

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