'The Child Whisperer,' 'Diaper Bank' co-founders honored by Smart Start NHC

'The Child Whisperer,' 'Diaper Bank' co-founders honored by Smart Start NHC

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The co-founders of "The Diaper Bank" and a therapist affectionately called "The Child Whisperer" were honored Tuesday for their efforts to improve the lives of children.

Smart Start New Hanover County named Lisa Brooks as Children's Champion for 2017, and presented Anna Lair and Leigh Robertson with a Starfish Award for Public Advocacy during its' annual pledge breakfast Tuesday morning at the Hilton Riverside.

Brooks, Lair and Robertson were among nine nominees for the Children's Champion award, voted on by the Smart Start Advocacy Committee. The Starfish Award for Public Advocacy honors work done to improve the early childhood system.

Lisa Brooks is a nationally certified child therapist and forensic interviewer at The Carousel Center in Wilmington, who conducts interviews for children reported to have experienced abuse or neglect.

The person that nominated Brooks says she has "an extraordinary skill in being able to create a safe space for a child to share some of the most horrific experiences that a human can endure.

Not everyone is able to establish the rapport and trust that children who have experienced toxic levels of stress need to begin the road to healing".

Anna Lair and Leigh Robertson co-founded The Diaper Bank of NC Lower Cape Fear in February 2014. It is an all-volunteer organization that coordinates with what they call "community partners -  from the people who donate diapers to the businesses that serve as diaper collection points to the organizations that distribute the diapers to families."

"The majority of the families we serve have one or more parents working and yet are unable to afford the diapers they need to keep their child clean, dry, and healthy," Lair commented in the nomination process. Since starting the organization, the group has helped distribute 100,000 diapers to families in need of assistance.

The other nominees recognized at the breakfast ceremony include:

Sonja Bull Green – who has logged more than 1,294 hours in the Cuddler Volunteers program at NHRMC Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Susan Henley – who works in early childhood mental health through Parent Child Interactive therapy (PCIT) supported by the Cape Fear Memorial Foundations.

Terry and Ashley Mears – who became foster parents to two children in 2016, and have since grown their family to six foster children, all siblings, living on the family farm and caring for animals.

Nadine Nepper – who became a foster parent in 2015, and since then has fostered 7 children ranging in age from newborn to 9 years old.  She currently fosters two children with developmental and health care needs.

Donna Vaught – who is a Developmental Specialist with the NHRMC Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

WECT was a sponsor of the 2017 Pledge Breakfast. To learn more about Smart Start New Hanover County click here.

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