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Each year, Smart Start of New Hanover County celebrates and recognizes members of our community who provide exceptional service, going above and beyond, for young children and/or their families in New Hanover County during children’s first 2000 days of life, from birth to age 5.

Janice Padron, Coastal Horizons, Clínica Latina

Janice is a bilingual & bicultural therapist in Wilmington NC. She provides treatment services in Spanish, and in a culturally comfortable setting for Latinos and their families in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender County. She has served clients from the surrounding counties for over 5 years. She goes over and beyond by meeting other needs of the kids & families. She connects them to resources available in the community. These services vary from making sure the families are getting healthy snacks, Thanksgiving dinners, donated bikes, clothes, toys, and Christmas trees to name a few.

J’vaneté Becton Skiba, NHC Resiliency Task Force

J’vanete’s commitment to resiliency for our whole community is profound. She deeply understands the transformational value of approaching this mission at every age level. Through her efforts with the Resiliency Task Force and their programs, like the Early Childhood Educator Symposium, she is dedicated to empowering youth and their caregivers with the tools to foster their own resilience. She knows that the ripple effect of resilience from one child to the world is limitless.

Victoria Carrai, Fit for Fun

Victoria is the supervisor at the Fit for Fun center and provides such an easy bright spirit throughout the facility. Her primary focus is on serving the families in our community with children aged birth through five years old, catering specifically to the healthy development of young minds by providing tailored programs. Her dedication to early childhood development inspires her to deeply connect with young children and their families, fostering a love for learning and positive social interactions at a crucial developmental stage.

Bobbi Fitzsimmons, Cameron Arts Museum

Dr. Bobbi Fitzsimmons donates her time, talent, and treasure to Cameron Art Museum to make sure that children are exposed to the arts from the earliest age. For seven years, she has volunteered with the bi-monthly Art Explorers program, which introduces infants, toddlers, and preschoolers to the arts through stories, gallery visits and creative activities. She designs and executes these programs, and connects with each and every child that participates in each program.

Steve McCrossan, Nourish NC

Steve McCrossan, Executive Director of NourishNC, consistently pushes for innovative ways to serve increasing numbers of children in our community who struggle with food insecurity. Last year, NourishNC distributed over 600,000 meals to food insecure children right here in New Hanover County. He stands behind NourishNC’s goal for all children to show up for school Monday morning healthy, happy and ready to learn. He is always seeking out ways to improve NourishNC’s programs, services, and products, in an endless quest to be the best.

Allison Wine, NHCS Pre-K

Allison, a Behavior Specialist with NHCS Pre-K, plays a pivotal role in shaping the early experiences of toddlers as they embark on their educational journey in the classroom. Her impact on children’s lives during this crucial stage is immeasurable, as she brings a wealth of expertise and dedication to fostering positive development. She makes a lasting difference in the lives of the children she serves by equipping them with essential social and emotional skills, laying the foundation for a positive attitude towards learning, setting them on a trajectory for future academic and personal success.

Edna Lancaster, Cape Fear Rotary

Under Edna’s guidance, Cape Fear Rotary club has significantly impacted local lives, especially through our Christmas program. This initiative, steered by Edna for over 20 years, has brought joy and hope to under-resourced families. Through her efforts, approximately 30-40 families helping hundreds of children with the annual Rotary program have been given not just financial support but a sense of belonging and hope. As a foster parent, Edna has taken in children during emergencies, opening her home and heart to hundreds of children over the years. These selfless acts stand as a testament to her character and dedication.

Sheriff McMahon talks with Meghan Donohue about the importance of supporting Smart Start’s work with young children in NHC and the positive outcomes across the community. Watch the WECT News Business Break.

About us…

video by Boot Scrap Media

How You Can Help

  1. Register to attend the Breakfast for Children’s Champions Fundraiser
    By attending, you’ll learn more about Smart Start’s important work in New Hanover County.  You’ll also meet our award nominees, learn about their hard work, and connect with other community members holding the same value for young children.
  2. Share the Message
    Let your friends and colleagues know about Smart Start’s work by sharing our message – become a table host, share social media posts, have conversations in the community.  Our reach and impact strengthen when more community members understand that our work has a lasting impact across the entire community.
  3. Donate Directly
    If you’re not able to attend the Breakfast Fundraiser but still want to help, you can make a direct donation to Smart Start of NHC HERE.

Questions? email Jennifer Gallo or call 910.815.3731 x.1028

Smart Start of New Hanover County envisions every child entering school with the health, family support and early education necessary to succeed.