Gratitude Gathering Honors Individuals Profoundly Impacting Children in Palm Beach County

December 6, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel 

Gratitude Gathering Honors Individuals Profoundly Impacting Children in Palm Beach County
Center for Child Counseling celebrates local individuals mitigating ACEs and trauma.

Center for Child Counseling hosted its Gratitude Gathering 2023 on Thursday, November 30 at the Mollie Wilmot Center in West Palm Beach. The event was an opportunity to honor distinguished individuals who are making a profound impact on the lives of children through their passion and tireless dedication to advancing understanding and action to mitigate the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma.

At this year’s Gratitude Gathering, the Center celebrated with the community its shared commitment of fostering resilience in children. Three local Palm Beach County individuals were recognized: Kathy Leone with the Jane Robinson Child Advocacy Award, Murray Levin with the Child Protector Award, and Judge Kathleen Kroll with The Judge Ron Alvarez Resiliency Award.

The Jane Robinson Child Advocacy award is named after the founder of Center for Child Counseling who passionately dedicated her professional career to promoting infant and early childhood mental health. The award recognizes a passionate advocate who works to promote child resilience, safety, and mental health. Leone was honored for her significant contribution to fighting ACEs in Palm Beach County. She has been a passionate advocate for children in the foster system for many years. 

“Through her work with the Center, other nonprofits, and business leaders in Palm Beach County, Kathy is making a meaningful difference for the most vulnerable children in our community,” said Renée Layman, CEO of Center for Child Counseling.

The Child Protector Award recognizes an individual or business that has been a significant champion for children’s safety and mental health. Since 2008, the Saul and Theresa Esman Foundation has been supporting the community of South Florida. Levin, president and chair of the foundation, received the award for his visionary support of keeping kids safe, including providing support to launch KidSafe Español.

Levin shared why he is driven to help children: “They deserve care, they deserve love, and they should get all they need as our most important human beings.”

The Judge Ron Alvarez Resiliency Award is named in honor of the pioneering legal mind who worked for children’s rights long before the impact of ACEs on society was fully understood. The award recognizes a trailblazing person in the legal profession who advocates for a fuller understanding of the science of adversity in the context of the law. The recipient works tirelessly to promote a trauma-informed approach to legal practice–making our legal system more compassionate and equitable for vulnerable children and families. In 2019, the award was given to Judge Alvarez to honor his trauma-informed and compassionate approach within the juvenile court system. Judge Alvarez, a beloved member of the Palm Beach County community, died earlier this year. With his wife Elaine’s permission, this award will continue his legacy. At the gathering, Elaine reflected on their fifty-four years of marriage, sharing personal stories of their time together.

Eddie Stephens, the Center’s board vice chair and partner at Stephens & Stevens, presented the Judge Ron Alvarez Resiliency Award to Judge Kathleen Kroll for her work from the bench to create a trauma-informed child welfare system in Palm Beach County. Judge Kroll has served as a Judge in Palm Beach County for more than 30 years and sits on the board of the Children’s Services Council, chairs the delinquency re-entry subcommittee of the Criminal Justice Commission, and leads the dually involved youth work group of the Supreme Court Committee on Families and Children. 

Kelsee, a former drug court participant who struggled with addiction for ten years starting at age 13, shared her sentiments of the impact Judge Kroll has had on her life: “Without her, I wouldn’t be an active role model and parent in my children’s lives today. I wouldn’t be sober experiencing how beautiful life truly is…[Judge Kroll] wrapped her hands around me and pushed me. She always let me know that I wasn’t alone–that she had faith in me. She never gave up on me although many times I have disappointed her. She fought for me when I couldn’t even fight for myself–she made me want to be better.” 

Layman also spoke of Judge Kroll’s compassion, dedication, and profound impact on the children in Palm Beach County: “We are deeply grateful to have Judge Kroll in our community. Her positive influence fosters a sense of trust in the legal system and promotes a belief that the Court can be a  system that improves the lives of the families that come before it. Like Judge Alvarez, her impact will truly be felt for generations to come.”

The inspiring evening of recognizing individuals making a lasting impact on children and families was made possible thanks to the support of Stephens & Stevens.

About Center for Child Counseling
Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County since 1999. Its services focus on preventing and healing the effects of adverse experiences and toxic stress on children, promoting resiliency and healthy family, school, and community relationships. Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc



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