On Jan. 25 long-time supporters of Voices for Children, David and Julia Gardner, hosted the Art of Helping Children Honoree Reception at their store, David Gardner’s Jewelers. The event was held to announce the recipients of the 2018 Champions for Children, Bonnie Wikse Advocate for Children, and Ronnie Jackson Friends of Children awards.
The guests of honor were the women on the Art of Helping Children Committee, Kelyn Wardlaw, and Citizens State Bank. Each award honors the significant impact they have made on the Voices for Children organization and in the lives of the children who are a part of it through the foster care system. The honorees will be recognized during the Art of Helping Children Gala on March 3.
Kelyn Wardlaw, a student at Texas A&M University and the recipient of the Bonnie Wikse award, explained that becoming guardian ad litem was something she had wanted to do since she learned about it at the Memorial Student Center Open House during her freshman year. Her family friends had fostered children in the past, so it was a cause that had previously piqued her interest. Wardlaw held onto the flyer for four years until she was old enough to apply. Today she has helped two children through the entire process and coordinated the annual Voices for Children Holiday Drive, all while being enrolled as a full-time student and working part-time.
“We are usually the only person that stays the same on the CPS case throughout the whole process,” said Wardlaw. “It’s our job to look out for the best interest of the child by talking to their doctors, lawyers, therapists, foster parents, biological parents, and CPS workers and just get all of the information from everyone to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. After that we write a report that states what we know, what we found out, what we want to tell the judge about it, and what we think is best for the child at that time.”
It is people like Kelyn, the women on the Art of Helping Children Committee, and Citizens State Bank that make Voices for Children one of the Gardners’ favorite organizations to support. Every year, as part of their contribution to Voices for Children, they design a custom piece of jewelry that is raffled off at the Art of Helping Children Gala. This year, the featured piece is an 18 karat yellow gold pendant from the David Gardner Bloom Collection with .56 ctw of diamonds.
“It’s the first rendition of our ‘Bloom’ Collection and the inspiration behind David’s design was a quote that I had read,” said Julia Gardner. “It said, ‘There is so much to learn from her; she’s planted in the mud yet she blooms,’ and it really made me think about the incredible strength and adversity that people, and more specifically women, have to overcome struggles.”
Guests were able to purchase raffle tickets at the Honoree Reception, but they are also available for purchase at the Upcoming Gala on March 3.
For more information on Voices for Children, CASA of Brazos Valley, visit www.vfcbrazos.org.