Wednesday, May 17, 2017

'The truth, is we need to do a better job'

"Childhood trauma has its effects on intellectual, social and emotional well-being of a child. The truth is we need to do a better job attending to the complex needs of these vulnerable children: families, agencies, social workers teachers, psychologists, politicians etc. Let us consider this quote from Pablo Casals: 'to the whole world you might be one person, but to one person you might just be the whole world.' " -- Mary Beth Berube

Left to right:Dave and Rob Berube, John Kostrzewa, Mary Beth Berube, me. 

I have been blessed in my decades as a journalist and writer to meet some of the most courageous and noble people who live among us. The Berubes are three of them. We all were honored today at the 29th annual Metcalf Media Awards from Rhode Island for Community and Justice, a wonderful organization dedicated to "fighting bias, bigotry and racism and promoting understanding together." My three-part Providence Journal series on the Berubes, "Saving Rob," about a dysfunctional and sometimes criminally harmful social-service agency, published last summer, won in the Print Daily category. John Kostrzewa edited the series, and our new executive editor, Alan Rosenberg, took time from a busy day to join us. And I was surprised and delighted that my Story in the Public Square partner, Pell Center director Jim Ludes, and Kristine Hendrickson, Associate Vice President for University Relations/Chief Communications Officer at Salve Regina University, came, too.

Below are Mary Beth's remarks, and after those, mine, followed by a list of the other winners. Congratulations to them!

Mary Beth Berube:

We are very excited to be here to honor Wayne for winning the Metcalf Award for his three-part series Saving Rob. Rob is our son and we are very grateful to Mr. Miller for writing such a sensitive piece detailing his life as a child in state care.

It was a courageous yet difficult decision on Rob’s part to expose himself so publicly. But he wanted to do it in order to help others and draw attention to the dreadful conditions some children are forced to endure. The article could not have been written without Rob’s consent and Wayne had a calm caring manner about him which put Rob at ease. Believe me, this is no easy feat! It was really was quite remarkable how much Rob was willing to share with this stranger.  Rob was very open and shared some very personal memories and painful experiences which Wayne weaved into creating a heartfelt compelling story.  Our family was very fortunate to have such a gifted writer chronicle our personal journey of adopting a child from state care and the hurdles we faced. Wayne got to the heart of all the  struggles,  fits and starts  to the point where we can now look back because it’s all in writing ( thanks Wayne) and think…Wow…THIS  family has persevered out of love for this amazing child.

I think the article succeeded in raising awareness to the constellation of challenges the kids in state care face. Childhood trauma has its effects on intellectual, social and emotional well-being of a child.  The truth is we need to do a better job attending to the complex needs of these vulnerable children:
families, agencies ,  social workers teachers, psychologists, politicians etc.  Let us consider this quote from Pablo Casals “to the whole world you might be one person, but to one person you might just be the whole world.”

This morning we honor this ONE person, Wayne Miller, for his wonderful accomplishment.  May This praise of Wayne’s work give us pause to think of the many children out there who are still in desperate need of saving or at least encountering that ONE person who just might be their whole world at a moment in time.

Congratulations Wayne. We are truly blessed to have met you. Thank you.

G. Wayne Miller:

Thank you, Alisha [Pina, a colleague, friend and great person who is dedicated to social justice]. And thank you, Rhode Island for Community & Justice, for this award. I am humbled and honored.

I especially want to thank Rob, Mary Beth and Dave, who took the chance that someone they had never met -- someone who was just a byline – an enemy of the people, as some have called us! -- would tell their story honestly and with respect.

They took this chance not because they sought personal gain. They took it because they believed their story -- which in essence is the story of many others who have suffered at the hands of an often-inept and sometimes criminally harmful system – might focus attention on a shameful problem that needs fixing. If we can’t take better care of our children, what kind of society are we, really? That is the message of “Saving Rob.”

Like others who have taken that chance with me over the years, Rob, Mary Beth and Dave became my heroes. I stand in admiration of them, not only -- and not primarily -- because they opened their lives to me and, through my newspaper, the public.

I stand in admiration for their nobility, their courage, their persistence, their faith and their very big hearts. They believe in giving back. In a world that can be dark and dispiriting, they shine and inspire.

I am lucky to know them. We all are.

Finally, let me thank The Providence Journal, which allows me and my colleagues to invest time in social-justice journalism – and it does take time, a lot of time, to do it right. Thanks, John Kostrzewa, for your superb editorial guidance – on this and many other stories over the years.  And let me congratulate our new executive editor, Alan Rosenberg, who – if you’ll pardon an Ocean State metaphor -- will be captaining a ship launched in 1829 into the future.

The other winners. Here, here!

Vanessa Toledo-Vickers - Community Award
“Invest in Your Strengths”
Academy for Career Exploration and Latino Public Radio RI
Presenter:  Tim Hebert

Casey Nilsson - Print Monthly Award
“They’ve All Come To Look For America”
Rhode Island Monthly
Presenter:  Cheryl Ah-Sasah

RIPR Newsroom - Broadcast Radio Award
“Speaking Across Differences”
Rhode Island Public Radio
Presenter:  TBA

Jim Vincent - Print Biweekly Award
"Effect of Elections”
The Jim Vincent Show - Providence PEG and CW28
Presenter:  Jordan Seaberry

Elisabeth Harrison, John Bender, Chuck Hinman - Advocacy Award
“St. George’s Loophole”
Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4
Rhode Island Public Radio
Presenter:  Peg Langhammer