Donna Helzer received the Lifetime Achievement Award and three other individuals were honored last week at the “For the Love of Children” award luncheon at Riverside Golf Club.
Jeff Ellsworth, Jason Urbanski and Cody Van Winkle each received For the Love of Children awards for 2020.
The annual award banquet began in 2015 to celebrate and honor the contributions of Grand Island community members who advocate for and serve children.
The luncheon was hosted by the Association for Child Abuse Prevention, in collaboration with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Nebraska, Boys Town, Building Blocks Foster Care, First Light Child Advocacy Center, Crisis Center and Heartland CASA. The 2020 banquet and celebration was canceled due to the pandemic.
Helzer, who is retired, spent more than 25 years working with children and families through Head Start and Early Head Start.
“Her impact throughout her career has been limitless,” according to a news release. “Her gentle nature and patience allowed parents to learn from her. Her passion for youth is unmatched; she is an advocate and a dedicated community volunteer. Donna’s kindness and positivity radiate and create spaces for children to flourish and feel safe. Donna utilizes her compassion and empathy to tackle difficult topics related to child abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. She believes in prevention and serves as a member of the Association for Child Abuse Prevention, trains adults on prevention and identification of child abuse, and so much more.”
Individuals who receive For the Love of Children Award are recognized for their continuing contributions to child well-being through employment or volunteer activities.
Here are the recipients of For the Love of Children awards:
Jeff Ellsworth is the principal at Jefferson Elementary School in North Platte. Before moving to North Platte, Ellsworth served as the principal at Chapman School. Known to his students as “Mr. E,” he served Northwest Public Schools for 13 years.
The release states Ellsworth “demonstrates a profound commitment to students, their families, the staff and the community. From starting a preschool, participating in carpools and booster club, to having breakfast available, teaching physical education, and working one-on-one with students living with handicaps, his genuine care for children is powerful and life-changing.”
Jason Urbanski has been an officer with the Grand Island Police Department since 1998. Beginning in 2003, he has served as a school resource officer with Grand Island Public Schools. Before joining GIPD, Urbanski on worked with youths at the Boys Town shelter.
“It is Jason’s uncanny ability to connect, communicate and calm that contribute to the positive relationships he is able to build with students and parents,” says the news release. “Outside of his work within the schools, Officer Urbanski volunteers as a coach, mentor, and a community volunteer — always choosing youth serving organizations to share his time and expertise.”
Cody Van Winkle
Cody Van Winkle is a placement specialist with Building Blocks Foster Care. Having always worked with youths and families, Van Winkle is an optimist, the news release states.
“He is creative, humorous, compassionate and intelligent. He relates well with children and gets to know the foster parents he works with well. He understands that his job has a powerful impact on children during some of their most difficult days,” the release says. “It is important that he finds a foster home able to connect to and meet the needs of the child. Outside of his ability to advocate as the president of the Association for Child Abuse Prevention, he utilizes his creativity to create award-winning floats for parades.”