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Make A Difference Award

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. See what the Lincoln County Child Abuse Prevention Council has done to promote prevention and safe and healthy family interactions. 

Make A Difference Awards Ceremony

Pictures from our 5th annual awards ceremony on 
April 28, 2010

Helping kids an honor

The recipients of this year's Make-A-Difference awards were, from left, Brooke Ludemann, Liz Berglund, Trudy Merritt, Officer Josh Jacobi, and Angie and Mitch Mussleman. Not pictured, Nan Hynes.
By Mark Young
Published: Thursday, April 29, 2010 4:11 AM CDT
The North Platte Telegraph

There may be no greater service to the community than making a difference in a child's life.

One of the seven recipients of the Make-A-Difference awards, presented on Wednesday at the McKinley Education Center by the Lincoln County Child Abuse Prevention Council, is not far off from being a child herself as a sophomore in high school.

Brooke Ludemann is the first person in her teens to receive the Make-A-Difference award and she hopes that it's a trend that will continue.

"I hope this will show other kids my age that you can do things that make a difference in the lives of other kids in our community even if you are young yourself," she said.

Ludemann was recognized for starting up the "Coats for Kids" coat drive 2 years ago. Since then, hundreds of coats have been collected, cleaned and delivered into the waiting hands of a needy child. Ludemann is also responsible for chartering the North Platte chapter of Project Linus; next month she will be seeking volunteers to help her make blankets for children in need.

"It's really nice to be recognized and I hope it will draw attention to my Project Linus project," she said.

North Platte Police Officer Josh Jacobi was recognized for his daily work with children while on the job. Jacobi said he was particularly honored to be recognized and accepted it on behalf of his colleagues in law enforcement.

"I'm grateful to be recognized and it was definitely unexpected, especially as a law enforcement officer in general," said Jacobi. "This isn't a job where we typically get a pat on the back, but it isn't just me. Everybody involved in our department is out there everyday doing the same job I am."

Nan Hynes and Trudy Merritt were also recognized at the ceremony. Hynes is a member of the Council, an indication of her overall commitment to improving the lives of children. Hynes was honored for her devotion to her foster children as a foster parent and her work as an advocate for the Lincoln County Rape and Domestic Violence Prevention program. She is also a charter board member of the Bridge of Hope Child Advocacy Center.

Merritt said she was "pleased and honored" to be recognized for her work with the community's youth as the aquatics director and recreation leader for the city of North Platte. She has literally dived into her work, showing her devotion by teaching young people to swim and mentoring young people in the city's lifeguarding program. She also organizes the Platte River Fitness series, which includes several fitness events for children and young adults.

Liz Berglund accepted her award on behalf of her entire staff at the Kids First Preschool where she is the director. Besides devoting her career to helping young children excel, she has also devoted her life to the community's children through volunteer work at local schools and is a strong advocate of youth softball.

"You know, I work with 12 people at the preschool and each and every one of them is equally deserving of this," she said. "I'll take this back to them and share it with them all."

Angie and Mitch Mussleman were recognized for being "outstanding foster parents" in the community. Mitch admits that it's Angie who deserves all the credit.

"It's kind of exciting," he said. "We certainly weren't expecting something like this, but all the credit goes to my wife. I'm on the road a lot with the railroad, so I come home and do what I can, but Angie does the majority of it all and for her to be recognized is really cool."

Making A Difference

By Kendra Potter. 
KNOP News 

Every April, the Lincoln County Child Abuse Prevention Council recognizes Child Abuse Awareness Month, by honoring folks in the community.

A ceremony was held to present the 2010 recipients with the Make a Difference Award.

Brooke Ludemann , Award Recipient, says, "I feel very honored getting an award like this, especially being only 16 years old. Two years ago I started a project called "Coats for Kids" and in these past two years, I've raised 300 coats for the community and usually hand delivered most of them. And most recently I started Project Linus, the chapter in North Platte, which donates blankets to the hospital for newborn babies, and I am in the process of getting donations for that, but definitely I like to give back to the kids and hopefully get more kids involved."

Angela and Mitch Musselman, Award Recipients, says, "I was really surprised, we were very surprised. We take in kids that are in between homes, we take kids long term. We get to see kids come into the home and when they leave we know we've made a difference in their lives. We know that they are going to be better off, they are gonna do better, they are going to enjoy life more. The kids make a big difference in our lives. They are fantastic, we learn new things everyday from our kids."

Seven total were honored with 6 awards given tonight.

The other award recipients include..

Nan Hynes, who is the case management supervisor of the hospital.

She was surprised tonight, as she is a board member for the prevention council.

Liz Berglund is the director and a teacher of Kids First Preschool and holds a yearly plant sale fundraiser.

Josh Jacobi is a North Platte Police Officer who is compassionate when dealing with family issues.

And Trudy Merrit is the director of the North Platte Rec center and has made a difference in countless youth.

Six to be honored at awards ceremony

By Mark Young
Published: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 4:09 AM CDT
The North Platte Telegraph

Each year the Lincoln County Child Abuse Prevention Council selects citizens who have demonstrated an exemplary dedication to the children of this community.

On Wednesday, at 4 p.m., in the McKinley Education Center, the annual Make A Difference awards ceremony will honor Nan Hynes, Liz Berglund, Josh Jacobi, Trudy Merritt, Brooke Ludemann and Angie and Mitch Mussleman. Hynes is a case management supervisor at Great Plains Regional Medical Center. Matt Fosket, child advocate at Bridge of Hope Child Advocacy Center said Hynes is an incredibly kind and considerate person.

"Nan is a person of strong conviction and a deep caring for children and their needs," reads her nomination letter. "She truly has a gift to make people and especially children realize their potential and it is good to know Nan is helping patients and families each day."

Hynes has also been a foster parent and a board member and advocate for the Lincoln County Rape and Domestic Violence Prevention program, as well as a charter board member of the Bridge of Hope.

Berglund is the director and teacher at the Kids First Preschool and organizes the yearly plant sale fundraiser at Kids First. She is aware of the different skill levels the children have and she incorporates those into the classroom and always makes the kids her first priority.

"Liz is also very active in her community," reads her nomination letter. "She volunteers at Cody School, is involved with Girl Scouts and has been very supportive of the softball leagues in North Platte. From preschool to church to sports, Liz is always involved and doing what is best for the children."

Jacobi is North Platte police officer and is known for his soft approach when dealing with family issues.

"Josh has a down-to-earth approach with families," reads his nomination letter. "He does an exceptional job in recognizing if a family has mental health issues, special needs or substance abuse issues. He works closely with other professionals to ensure the safety of the children he works with. He's a great team player when it comes to children's safety and he should be recognized for his compassionate and caring way of dealing with children."

Merritt is the director of the North Platte Recreation Center. Over her career, she had made a difference in countless youth and has been instrumental in teaching young kids to swim and become lifeguards.

Merritt is the race director for the O'Rourke Triathlon, Tinker Triathlon and the Jingle Bell Run and has become a mentor to many she has been in contact with who, in turn, have become tireless volunteers themselves.

"It is difficult to convey the inspiration that Trudy is to children and young adults," reads her nomination letter. "She exemplifies a healthy lifestyle. She lives it and those who know her are compelled to give their very best in all they pursue, from fitness to academics."

Ludemann is a 16-year-old sophomore at North Platte High School. Two years ago, she started her annual "Coats for Kids" coat drive and has collected, cleaned and delivered over 300 coats to area families. Some are delivered through churches, schools and other organizations, but Ludemann hand delivers the majority of the coats she collects through her project.

She has recently been approved to charter a North Platte/Lincoln County chapter of Project Linus and is planning a "Make a Blanket Day" in May. She and other volunteers will make blankets for children in the area who need them.

Angie and Mitch Mussleman are considered to be "outstanding" foster parents in this community who "make a huge difference every single day with children in their home," reads their nomination letter. "They exemplify patience, commitment, and authentic concern for the many challenges their kids face."