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Champion Awards Announced

Three Named 2015 Champions for Children

Three individuals were honored with the 2015 Champion for Children Award at LACASA’s Twilight in the Garden event on Saturday, July 18, 2015.

Kirk and A.J. Evenson are long-time educators and advocates for vulnerable children in Livingston County. Tanya Kramer is a foster mom, raising six children on her own and, according to the kids, doing an amazing job.

Champion 2015 Evensons

CHAMPIONS 2015: Kirk & A.J. Evenson

The Champion for Children Award is a joint effort between LACASA’s Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Council and the Great Start Collaborative of Livingston County, both dedicated to the safety, healthy development and success of children in our community.

Kirk Evenson, who was employed by Hartland Consolidated Schools for more than 20 years, served as teacher, coach, athletic director and principal of both Renaissance Alternative High School in Howell and Legacy Alternative High School in Hartland. Under his leadership, Legacy was named Michigan Alternative School of the Year for the 2012-13 school year. A.J. Evenson has worked at Hartland Schools for 13 years, serving as a special education teacher, general education teacher and case coordinator.

The Evensons were recognized Saturday evening, not for the countless ways they’ve touched the lives of children through their work over the years, but for efforts above and beyond their professional duties to support and advocate for vulnerable youth in Livingston County.

Jo Del Vero, retired teacher, counselor and student assistance coordinator with Hartland Consolidated Schools, says the Evensons are the first to respond whenever the call is broadcast for youth in need throughout Livingston County. Kirk and A.J. frequently donate groceries to The Connection Youth Shelter, providing not only staples but also treats they know the kids will enjoy.

“Both Mr. and Mrs. Evenson have given freely of their time and personal resources to the youth in their charge and to many youth, anonymous to them, throughout Livingston County,” says Del Vero.

At Christmas time each year, the Evensons help to ensure that homeless children feel special and valued, providing gifts they need as well as gifts the children are wishing for, even taking care to wrap those gifts in each child’s favorite color.

The Evensons have both participated in and provided support to a number of community organizations benefiting youth, never seeking or desiring recognition for their contributions.

When contacted about the award, Kirk indicated that he was very touched by the gesture, but said it was unnecessary. “It’s about the kids,” he said.

“That attitude,” says Deanna Norris, LACASA’s CAP Council director, “is precisely why the Evensons were selected to receive one of this year’s awards.”

Champion 2015 Kramer

CHAMPION 2015: Tanya Kramer (center) with Deanna Norris (left), CAP Council Director, and Robin Schutz, Great Start Livingston Coordinator

The second Champion for Children Award was presented to Tanya Kramer, a mother to five foster children and three nearly grown biological children, one of whom is still at home.

“This champion has opened her heart and her home to children in need,” said Robin Schutz, Great Start Livingston coordinator. “She is a foster mother providing shelter, food and love to five foster children, in addition to her own daughter.”

“We received a number of outstanding nominations this year,” said Norris, “but this one really stood out to the award committee as being special and unique.” Most nominations are submitted by seasoned professionals and colleagues of the nominees. Kramer’s nomination was submitted by the children in her care.

Kramer has been serving as a foster mom for the past year and a half, and is giving children love and a home they need, says the letter from the children. Since losing her husband Kevin, father to the children, just nine months ago following a head-on collision, Kramer has remained strong, put the children first and maintained a solid, loving home for them.

“It’s been an emotional but loving reward to have had the children and Kevin in my life,” says Kramer. “I’ve been blessed with the chance to keep all the girls after [Kevin’s death], and we learn to grow in so many ways,” she said. “They are all wonderful girls!”

In addition to caring for the children, Kramer runs the foster closet in Livingston County and is helping other widows who have suffered the loss of a spouse.

“It is an honor,” said Schutz, “to be able to recognize these champions for the difference they are making in children’s lives. They are all remarkable people.”

LACASA Staff Insight

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