It was an amazing time at the 2017 CJCA and PbS Awards Night on October 26. The sounds of the Windy City were buzzing around the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago, but were nothing compared to the celebratory mood in the room as the night commenced with PbS Executive Director Kim Godfrey and CJCA Executive Director Mike Dempsey’s opening words.
“Thank you all so much for coming,” said Godfrey. “This is such a great event and we love seeing you all here, celebrating all our successes and feeling the energy from so many dedicated, awesome supporters of PbS and CJCA together in one room.”
The night continued with an announcement and video of the PbS Kids Got Talent Group Performance Winner – a group of youths from Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility in Oregon, who produced and starred in a fun music video depicting the song “I Wanna Be Like You” from the Jungle Book. It was a fun, upbeat cover of the Disney hit, made even more impressive by the youths’ filming, choreography and musical talents displayed with a trumpet, bass, ukulele and drums.
Throughout the evening, guests viewed the Barbara Allen-Hagen winners’ videos – Ferris School and Grace Cottage from the Delaware Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services and Nampa Observation and Assessment Center from the Idaho Department of Juvenile Services. The stories these winners shared were motivating and inspiring, and tears were shed as the proud recipients accepted their awards on stage.
Along with the announcement of the PbS Scholarship and Reentry Award winners, and the CJCA President’s Award which went to Harvey Reed, Director of the Ohio Department of Youth Services, PbS and CJCA both had new awards for 2017. PbS was proud to present the winners of the first annual Employment Matching Award, which is a reflection of PbS’ belief that stable and fulfilling employment serves as a bridge back to community and adult life when youths leave facility care. PbS received 14 applications from youths at seven different facilities across five states – all 14 youths were accepted to receive PbS’ first matching awards.
CJCA also presented the first annual Edward J. “Ned” Loughran Outstanding Administrator Award. Ned was CJCA’s first and founding Executive Director and was an advocate without equal for children, youths and families involved in juvenile justice systems and the leaders who served them. CJCA was proud to present the award this year to Commissioner Peter J. Forbes, Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, for his extraordinary leadership in CJCA and the field and a strong commitment to improving the lives of youths
The night reached a crescendo with the showing of the 2017 PbS Kids Got Talent Finalist Montage, and then the moment everyone was waiting for – the Kids Got Talent Live Performance. Taking the stage was Puamelia O. from Echo Glen Children’s Center, Washington State Juvenile Rehabilitation – Rehabilitation Administration. Pua’s confidence and love for the light of the stage immediately shone through as she introduced herself, smiling and excited before the music started and she began her routine. Pua performed an impressive Hawai’ian dance, the first PbS has ever received in the three years of running the Kids Got Talent Contest, to the song “Kaiona” by Hawai’ian artist Keali’I Reichel. Pua was a natural performer who was energized by the limelight, and her talent and infectious enthusiasm was embraced by the room as guests met her performance with a standing ovation and loud cheers.