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JWB luncheon honors unsung heroes
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ST. PETERSBURG - For the 20th year, the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County hosted the Cooperman-Bogue KidsFirst Awards program on March 20, at the Hilton – St. Petersburg Carillon Park.

The event honored four outstanding social services professionals for their life-changing work with Pinellas County children and families.

Over the last two decades, the Cooperman-Bogue KidsFirst Awards winners have personified dedication and compassion for kids. Eighty people with a wide range of job descriptions, skills and backgrounds have received this honor. They’ve passionately carried on the legacy of Attorney Leonard Cooperman and Judge Lincoln C. Bogue who joined other Pinellas County citizens in 1945 to create the Juvenile Welfare Board, believing all kids matter and investing in their futures.

Each year, four individuals are chosen quarterly to be recognized for going above and beyond for Pinellas children and families. They are honored with a certificate and a $500 award check. At the annual Cooperman-Bogue KidsFirst Awards Luncheon each year, the four quarterly winners are honored in front of hundreds of guests and one lucky winner it chosen as the Annual Winner and presented a $2,000 award check.

This year, the quarterly Cooperman-Bogue KidsFirst Awards winners are:

• Scott Smith, a housing system navigator with Personal Enrichment through Mental Health Services, working in partnership with families to help avoid homelessness and develop solid support systems so children grow up in stable homes.

• Lindsay Parete, truancy navigator with PEHMS, where she instills a sense of worth for all she serves, Parete helps children succeed in schools by working with families to overcome truancy.

• Lucie Malinski, early childhood consultant with Directions for Living, where her passion for her work is contagious, Malinkski works with parents and other professionals to help ensure children start school ready to learn.

• Summer Perez, program manager with Suncoast Center, Perez leads a department of therapists and directs the development of policies to ensure quality care for pre-school children.

The Cooperman-Bogue KidsFirst Awards Luncheon is supported each year by the Juvenile Welfare Board and several community partners: TransAmerica, BB&T, AllTrust Insurance, Bright House Networks, WUSF, Radio Disney and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

In addition, two youths will be honored with the annual H. Browning Spence Education Award in the amount of $500 each. Named in memory of the late Dr. Browning Spence, former deputy director at JWB, the award contributes to the transition into adulthood for two former foster children.

The Juvenile Welfare Board is a publicly funded, mission-driven organization with a 70-year history of improving the lives of children and families in Pinellas County through programs, partnerships and advocacy. For more information visit JWBPi­nella­
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