Local Child Welfare Professional Honored with National Award

The Giving Coast

Pictured: With Jone Williams for the presentation of the Avima D. Lombard Award were (from l-r) Nikki Martin-Bynum, National Program Director, HIPPY; Dr. Miriam Westheimer, Chief Program Officer, HIPPY International; Williams; and Benny Feifel, CEO, HIPPY

Jone Williams, Educational Outreach Director for Safe Children Coalition, has recently been honored at the national level for her work with children and families. Williams is responsible for the HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) Program for Sarasota County as well as oversees Safe Children Coalition's Achievers Program for teens. Out of 12 nominees from throughout the nation, Williams won the Avima D. Lombard Award at the HIPPY National Leadership Conference in Mobile, Ala. in April. The award is presented to a HIPPY staff person at a local, state, or national program office in the U.S. whose professional services have made a significant contribution to HIPPY and to improving the lives of young children and their families. Individuals selected for the award embody the late Lombard’s dedication to the equalization of educational opportunities for young children and her active and determined approach to work. The award was presented during the HIPPY 2023 National Conference in Mobile, Ala., during the Avima Gala on April 16. HIPPY is a home-based early intervention program that helps parents teach their 2-5-year-old children. Early literacy and language skills are crucial in helping children be kindergarten-ready, so that they are poised to be successful learners. The ages of 2-5 are especially important as children experience rapid cognitive development and building of language skills. There are 125 area families currently participating in Safe Children Coalition’s HIPPY program. Williams says that she was first exposed to the HIPPY program 30 years ago, when she saw a flyer asking if caretakers wished to be their child’s first teacher and participate in the HIPPY Program. At the time, her son was 3 years old; she felt she had taught him all the basics for entering kindergarten. She contacted the program coordinator to ask questions about this new program in our community. She was offered a part-time job, at 15 hours a week, by the first local coordinator of the program. She was hired as a paraprofessional, someone who would go into the homes to provide a curriculum, storybooks and more on a weekly basis and work with parents to prepare their children for kindergarten. She moved up to assistant coordinator of the program and then, when the coordinator left the position and another hire didn't work out, she lobbied for the position and has been serving children and families in this role ever since. Williams has been a member of Business & Professional Women/North Sarasota since 2004; is on the executive committee for the Sarasota County Branch NAACP as well as a co-advisor for the Sarasota NAACP Youth Council; is a past Community Health Worker for the Newtown Wellness program, where she volunteered for years; and was a certified breast cancer awareness facilitator for the Susan G. Komen Foundation as well as for other forms of cancer. She has received numerous prestigious awards for her contributions to the community.

Pictured: With Jone Williams for the presentation of the Avima D. Lombard Award were (from l-r) Nikki Martin-Bynum, National Program Director, HIPPY; Dr. Miriam Westheimer, Chief Program Officer, HIPPY International; Williams; and Benny Feifel, CEO, HIPPY

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