Bernice Palumbo Honored

The HANCOCK COUNTY CHILDREN’S COUNCIL presented the 2004 Nancy Gentile award to Bernice Palumbo at their Annual Meeting held at the White Birches Restaurant on June 8th.

Award winner, Bernice Palumbo.

Ms. Palumbo is currently serving as a mentor coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Maine. Nominated by several former Nancy Gentile award recipients, Bernice embodies many attributes of Ms. Gentile. While working at the Wooden Boat School, she became one of the first Big Sisters at BBBS. For more than a decade, Bernice has volunteered her time in a variety of projects to improve the quality of life of Maine’s children. Because of Bernice’s efforts: Scholarships were provided to children to attend the Wood Boat School; greater awareness of the risks of substance abuse by youth was highlighted in her work with the alcoholism study circle in Bucksport & Orland; and children who needed mentoring found a special person through the Big Brother Big Sister program. Bernice also studied to become a clown, and with clown outfit, balloons and tricks in place, she has performed for children in various schools as well as for disabled children, and for the BBBS Bowl-a-thon.

Presenting the award to Bernice was Mary Jane Bush of Bucksport. Mary Jane was the most recent recipient of the Nancy Gentile award in 2000, and provided first-hand recollections of Nancy Gentile’s spirit, enthusiasm and style. In March of 1987, the HANCOCK COUNTY CHILDREN’S COUNCIL established the Nancy Gentile Award to perpetuate her name and encourage and recognize individuals who are symbolic of the qualities she shared with others.

Nancy Gentile was a strong human rights advocate whose life tragically ended in an automobile accident at the age of 36. She worked for fifteen years to end violence against women and children, serving as Director of Spruce Run, President of Hancock County Children’s Council, Director of Parents Anonymous of Maine, and was also instrumental in mobilizing members of the community to confront issues that plague our lives today. In the late 1970’s, she was instrumental in organizing the Maine Coalition for Family Crisis Services, which during her lifetime became a network of domestic violence projects throughout the state. Her organizing efforts helped secure legislative funding for women and children in crisis. She served as a Maine representative to the national “Coalition Against Domestic Violence”, beginning and maintaining an important link to national resources. Nancy also worked to prevent Child Abuse and Neglect, to promote Peace Activism and in mobilizing communities to confront the issues that plague our lives today.

During the Hancock County Children’s Council annual meeting, Jan Clarkin, Executive Director for the Maine Children’s Trust, provided an overview of child abuse and neglect prevention activities throughout the State of Maine during her keynote address. The mission of the Maine Children’s Trust is to prevent the abuse and neglect of Maine’s children. A non-profit agency, the Trust is appointed by the Governor to administer federal child abuse grant funds, and holds the State charter for Prevent Child Abuse Maine. Jan reviewed the status of the Trust’s strategic plan which calls for continuing expansion and strengthening of cross-disciplinary collaborations throughout Maine. Current priorities and activities include: cross-collaborative effort to create a prevention curriculum for prevention workers throughout Maine; development of the first ever Child Abuse Prevention Plan for Maine; with support from the Children’s Cabinet, developed 3 cross-disciplinary “Think Tanks” with professionals representing child abuse, substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and juvenile justice; and actively supports and leads a home visiting coalition working on public education, awareness and sustained funding.

Candy Eaton, Program Director for the Children’s Council honored Jaime Wood of Hancock and a student at Mount Desert Island High School for her efforts to chair the Keeping Kids on Track program for the Ellsworth Area Communities for Children & Youth. Ms. Eaton also thanked all attendees for their volunteer participation in preventing child abuse and neglect throughout Hancock County.

The Hancock County Children’s Council is a community effort dedicated to the PREVENTION of child abuse and neglect in our local area and is a member of Prevent Child Abuse Maine. Financial support for our educational activities has been provided through the Hancock County Commissioners, Department of Human Services, Maine Community Foundation, Mainely Parents and several individual and United Way of Eastern Maine contributors.

The Hancock County Children’s Council has an extensive collection of books and videotapes on subjects designed to help children and families live healthier lives. The Family Resource Center Library is available to all residents in Hancock County and is located in the Downeast Health Services building at 52 Christian Ridge Road, Ellsworth, ME. Please call 667-5304 ext. 261, email [email protected] or visit our website at www.downeasthealth.org for additional information on parenting classes, child development and family resources available in Hancock County.