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 Heroes for February 20
Linda and Becky Porter – Seattle
I am pleased to submit this nomination for Ms. Linda Porter. She is truly deserving of an Unsung Hero Award. She is one of the strongest, intelligent, "ready and willing" advocates I know. I first met Linda at a Washington State Kinship Oversite committee meeting (before it was established as a committee) in 2002. She has a long history of advocating for the safety and well-being of children. She worked for many years at Childhaven directly with children impacted by abuse and neglect. She now continues that work by coordinating the “Lifetime Respite" program for Washington through Easter Seals. This effort ensures that caregivers (of all kinds) get the training and support they need to sustain care for vulnerable populations. Advocating for others and helping others is just part of who Linda is. Along with her professional work she has personally taken on the full-time care of her grandchildren. As a Kinship Caregiver she continues her work to make significant changes in our state to better the support for Kinship Caregivers as a whole. She understands the struggles often faced by relative caregivers and has been at the forefront of change in our state. She has taken action by speaking to legislative representatives, DSHS staff and serving on the Washington State Kinship Advisory Committee. Linda is not the sort of person who asks for help but the first person who would jump in to help others. She is upbeat, optimistic and very realistic. You can count on her to give an honest assessment of the need, value of intervention and 100% effort into finding solutions. She clearly has the best interest of children in her heart. Generations United recently published an article on Kinship Care telling Linda's story. She is one of the people who works behind the scenes, but doesn't mind jumping up to the mic when necessary – and especially if on behalf of children. I hope you will honor her for her substantial and significant advocacy on behalf of Kinship Caregivers in Washington state and for the thousands of children she has so personally nurtured through tough times and into health and well-being.
Nominator: Shelly Willis
I am delighted to nominate Linda Porter for this year's Unsung Hero Award. Linda is truly deserving of this recognition for many reasons:
1. She stands out as a bright shining role model as a long-standing grandparent dedicated to raising two grandchildren (plus continually helping with two other grandsons of the same sibling group being raised by her sister in close living proximity). Her grandchildren do not just have a stable, loving place to call home, they have a staunch advocate in their corner, whether it be at school or through multiple extra-curricular activities as well as through reminding them of how special and resilient they are despite the challenges they face. Both of Linda's grandchildren were honored as winners of the Washington State Voices of Children – Raised by Grandparents and Other Relatives contest. Nathan (then age 6) won in 2009 and he both drew a creative picture and then wrote as part of his entry: "My Mema is now my Momma. She defends me and my sister forever and I love her." ShayLynn was a winner in 2011 and along with a wonderful, colorful illustration she shared words including: "Now that my Mema adopted me I feel loved … I exhale and feel warm and cozy. Mema makes me feel at home." Linda is making a lifetime of difference in these children's lives and has demonstrated time and time again the strengths of parental resilience, social connections, emotional support for her grandchildren and knowledge of healthy development and needs of children. I have witnessed Linda with these children on a couple of occasions and see the warmth and bonding exchanged between them all.
2. Professionally, Linda has dedicated her life to helping parents and caregivers take better care of themselves through directing for two decades the Crisis Nursery program through Childhaven, and for the past four years serving as the coordinator for Lifespan Respite Washington through Easter Seals. This latter program offers resources and respite voucher opportunities to adults caring for persons of all ages with special needs. Daily she is helping parents and other caregivers find ways for concrete support in times of need. Linda deeply cares about each meeting/call with those she serves. She is skilled and comfortable in the social worker role and often finds ways to encourage caregivers to take their very first break from the continuous care they are providing, by educating and reassuring them that their loved ones will be in good and trusting "hands." Linda helps prevent parents and caregivers from reaching their boiling point and enables them to do some critical self-care needed to refuel their caregiving tank.
3. Culturally, Linda is an enrolled member of the Snohomish Tribe of Indians and has done extensive work both professionally and civically to represent tribal interests and needs whether it be by serving on a local Indian Child Welfare Advisory committee, being a former social worker with the Indian Child Welfare Unit/Child Protective Services with the Washington DSHS Children's Administration, or teaching about "attachment" for Suquamish and Port Gamble Tribal Head Start. Linda sensitively educates others about various needs in tribal communities and has a long history of experiences to ground her.
4. Lastly, Linda lends her voice as an articulate writer and spokesperson on issues that matter to relatives raising children. She has on a number of occasions communicated to multiple state legislators, DSHS staff and to the Washington State Kinship Oversight Committee about her perspective and suggestions for improving the support services system of relatives raising children. I highly recommend Linda Porter for this special Unsung Hero recognition.
Nominator: Hilarie Hauptman
Linda wishes to share her award with her sister, Becky, because without her as co-parent for all four children, the children would have been separated. That would have been devastating to the children.
Becky Porter starts every day with a bang. She adopted her grand-nephews when they needed a forever home. Both face challenges stemming from congenital neurological conditions. She works hard to provide stability and love – all before going off to work for war veterans in a local bone marrow transplant program.
Together, this duo shares soccer parent duties, supporting one another in IEP meetings, backup support in managing schedules and behaviors, and helping the children maintain cultural and family connections. This, in turn, bonds them in solid identity quests. Linda and Becky have personalities that complement one another to provide prospective and effective paths for problem-solving complement – a serious must for raising rambunctious teens.
Singing the Praises of Our Unsung Heroes
Read about all of the wonderful, everyday heroes who have won Washington Unsung Hero Awards: seattleschild.com/2015-Unsung-Heroes.