Emotions ran high Thursday evening when the Champion for Children Foundation hosted an elegant reception in the newly-remodeled Circle Theater in Sebring to thank its benefactors for 20 years of support.
Kevin Roberts, one of those founders and current CEO of the foundation, offered appreciation to those who supported Champion for Children through the years. He then turned his praise to the organization’s leaders — some of whom have been with him since the beginning in June of 1994.
Nancy Hensley, Doris Gentry and Ruth Handley are three of those long-time board members.
Hensley said she was recently retired from a career as a school teacher when she was told of plans for the original board, then called Children’s Services Council. She was asked to volunteer. “Sure, I can do that,” she recalls saying. That same day she received a phone call asking her to serve as chairman. “‘It’ll be easy,’ they said. ‘There’s nothing to it,’ they said,” Hensley said to a round of laughter, “and that brings us to today and 20 years later.”
Handley, who was superintendent of schools in 1994, said she was eager to join the board and work to better the lives of children. Joining that original board, too, was then-county commissioner Doris Gentry.
Helping greet visitors and taking his turn on stage was Jeff Roth, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center in Sebring. The advocacy center is one of the many jewels in the crown of Champion for Children, providing a safe haven where young victims can meet with authorities.
Roberts said it is donations from benefactors that allow the Champion for Children Foundation to achieve its mission “to help youth mature into responsible adult members of a global society … It begins with providing the best possible environment where each child can develop to his or her greatest potential.”
A large white sheet cake, graced by a rendering of the Champion for Children logo, was served to commemorate the Foundation’s 20th birthday.
The Champion for Children Foundation’s office is at 419 E. Center Ave. in Sebring. Roberts can be contacted at his office at 863-382-2905 or by cellphone at 863-381-4040. Visit www.championforchildren.org for more information.