Weekend Highlights

Published February 20, 2013
Our Community

Congratulations Unsung Hero: Janay Hill

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Janay Hill and her daughter.

February is Parent Recognition Month. Strengthening Families Washington, of the Department of Early Learning for Washington State, believes there is no better way to recognize a parent, grandparent, foster or adoptive parent than by acknowledging the numerous and impressive things they do to strengthen their family and those around them in their community.

Seattle’s Child is proud to sponsor the Washington Unsung Hero Awards, recognizing our everyday heroes and honoring the important role caregivers play in children’s lives. There are 28 nominees for the 28 days of February, and Seattle’s Child will highlight each and every one.

Congratulations to the Unsung Hero for February 20: Janay Hill – Olympia, WA:

Janay and her 6-year-old daughter are currently homeless and staying at a family homeless shelter in Olympia.  The family has been homeless off and on for more than two years.  I work with Janay as her case manager at the Family Support Center, and am consistently amazed by her dedication to her daughter and her determination to build a better life for her family.  Janay is a young mom - she was only 17 when her daughter was born.  In addition to being a young parent, Janay faces many significant obstacles and struggles that the majority of parents in our society often have no experience with.  In order to stay in the shelter, Janay and her daughter must leave each morning by 7 a.m., and cannot return until 5 p.m.  They have no secure place to be during the day, and no place to be out of the winter-time elements.  Janay is currently unable to work due to a disability, and she and her daughter survive on a very small amount of assistance each month.  In order to work toward changing her situation, Janay spends her days walking and taking the bus around town from appointment to appointment, filling out forms, attending classes, and applying for various programs of support.  Janay is a single parent, and does not have family in town to help support her, other than her daughter.  She is also a domestic violence survivor.  Any one of these obstacles would be enough to discourage any person - even someone with a partner to help co-parent, supportive family, or financial resources.  Yet Janay faces all of these struggles with profound courage, humility, and unshakeable resolve.  I am deeply inspired by her strength, and her willingness to do whatever it takes to create greater stability for her daughter.  Janay works to create a sense of security and groundedness in her daughter's life, despite their situation, and she consistently affirms her love and care for her daughter.  She is one of the most committed parents I have met - again and again she refers to her daughter as the guiding force and motivation behind her ability to work so hard.  Her daughter is bright and generous and friendly, and very clearly knows just how deeply she is loved by her mom.  I believe in this family, and believe that they are hard at work - to an extent most of us never have to understand - transforming their lives.  I would love to see Janay's efforts recognized, and believe that she is an excellent model of a Parent Hero.

Nominator:  Thea Schnase

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Read the stories about the other inspiring Unsung Hero award winners:

February 1: Christine Matter – Tacoma

February 2: Christena Evans – Spokane

February 3: Carmen Gonzalez – Burien

February 4: Sence Gonzalez – Olympia

February 5: Lina McDonald – Silverdale

February 6: Roseanne Henzel – Yakima

February 7: Jill Homme & Deb Libbey – Battle Ground

February 8: Bulcha Kenate – Tukwila

February 9: Angela Fish – Puyallup

February 10: Anna Kagley – Everett

February 11: Julie Kerr – Bellingham

February 12: Karla Petersen – Seattle

February 13: Talya Miller – Seattle

February 14: Sayuri Foster – Oak Harbor

February 15: Curtis Treadwell - Spokane Valley

February 16: Thomas Harris – Bellingham

February 17: Bill Lash – Lacey

February 18: Bernyce Martin – Tacoma

February 19: Victoria Hilt – Bremerton