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Each year the KidsPeace Foundation honors associates at the organization with the HELP Award, recognizing a commitment to providing excellent customer service in their work on behalf of KidsPeace and youth in our care.

The 2023 HELP Award recipients are Lori Klein and Sharon Williams, and Healing Magazine asked them to share their thoughts on this recognition.


Lori Klein

I clearly remember deciding at 9 years of age that I wanted to pursue a career working with children.  I have especially always had a heart for underserved kids.  I decided to pursue my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Communications Disorders and began my career as a kindergarten teacher. After teaching for 5 years, I decided to further my education and pursue a Master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum.  After taking a few years off to raise my daughter, I returned to the workforce part-time as a preschool teacher for a Head Start program in a large, urban school district. I witnessed firsthand so many challenges the kids faced and the deep impact of trauma.  I often had a desire to help but felt overwhelmed how to find the appropriate resources. 

 While working in that classroom, I worked with a few children on the autism spectrum and realized I had a desire to work with children with intellectual disabilities. I accepted a position as an autism interventionist and worked for an intermediate unit. Then during the pandemic, I recognized that I wanted a career change; I wanted to continue to help children, but I didn’t want to necessarily be in a classroom setting all day. 

At that time, I had an idea that I wanted to work with foster kids; I remember thinking, “I have no personal or professional experience with foster kids, so I am not quite sure where this thought is coming from.” But I went with my instinct and applied to KidsPeace. Little did I know, it would be the beginning of my life-changing career working with foster children. 

A few months in, I found my calling as a Child-Specific Recruitment Worker. I relish working with children and it has been so rewarding finding forever families for them! I have had the opportunity to meet so many families from states all over the country and enjoy completing family interviews. I enjoy problem-solving and find it rewarding and challenging to work through potential issues a family may face while deciding to accept a child into their home.   It is so gratifying to have a personal connection with the children I work with and see them experience personal growth.  I enjoy the camaraderie of working with other permanency specialists, KidsPeace clinicians and county workers.  I enjoy building a rapport with the prospective families I work with.  I think it is so important to be responsive to the families and earn their respect. 

I have learned so much about trauma-informed practices. I personally did not grasp when I started how much trauma affects a child’s brain development.  The children we serve thrive off of strong connections and continued advocacy. These children are often looking for even simple connections.  I recently had a youth who I took out to lunch to a fast food restaurant, and a couple weeks afterwards he said, “I realized you really cared about me because you took me out to lunch and paid for me.” I think we sometimes take for granted how much a simple gesture can make a difference in the life of a child. Also, I have personally seen the positive impact of teamwork in the lives of the kids we serve, to problem-solve and come together to meet the needs of the children. 

Going forward, my hope is that more prospective families will make the leap into foster care. I have found that people sadly often have negative connotations of foster care; they are scared they can’t afford to take on a child or are worried if the placement will work out. I hope families realize the positive impact they are making in the life of a child, even if it is just short-term. The child will remember their kindness forever. I dream that more families will give our kids a chance.

In addition, I would love for the children we serve to have more access to community-based programs.  In this line of work, I often think of the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  My hope is that, as a community, we can provide for and interact positively with the children we serve to give them more opportunities for a brighter future.

Lori Klein is a permanency specialist with KidsPeace’s foster care office in Bethlehem, PA.


Sharon Williams

I want to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude for this recognition.   It is truly an honor. 

I came to KidsPeace in 2004 when someone gave me an opportunity. She became a good friend of mine later on, but first she gave me a chance when I had very little experience – just a single mom trying to provide for her family. She started me out as a receptionist and within the year I moved into a secretarial spot. I filled in at all locations and got to meet some very nice people. 

In 2007 I applied for a position in the contracts department. I had no knowledge of contracts or even how they worked but again someone at KidsPeace gave me a chance. I had the privilege to work with amazing staff who cared for the clients that we serve on the back end; but the dedication to the clients still showed.  In 2012 I accepted a position in the admissions department of KidsPeace Children’s Hospital.  It was there where I truly met the most caring people – where the best examples of compassion for our clients was seen. 

 It was at the hospital that I was asked to help a client with her hair needs. To me, this was something that I did all the time.  I come from a family in which the majority of them are women; not to mention I did my boys’ hair as well. I loved doing their hair because it’s a way of helping someone to feel good about themselves. It was something that I did for my children all the time, because I wanted them to start their day with confidence and feeling ready to take on the day. But for this client, it meant so much more. For her, it gave her the ability to shine – to be big, beautiful and confident in spite of everything that was going on in her life at that time. 

I truly believe that the way you start your day makes a big difference. I just happened to be in the hallway the day she was discharged and she gave me a hug with a big smile on her face. That is something that I will always remember. I have helped other clients since then with the hopes that something so simple as a hairstyle can makes some one’s day a little better.  

I really hope that the employees here at KidsPeace know how much of a difference they are making in our client’s lives, even if it’s for a short time. 

To me, receiving the Help Award serves as a reminder that the support I provide to our clients, whether it’s doing my job or going above and beyond, has not gone unnoticed. I hope that my beliefs and willingness to lend a helping hand has made a significant impact on the clients. And I hope that it shows them that KidsPeace believes and supports them.  I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to (KidsPeace Hospital executive director) Tamara Wasilick and the entire organization. Your continuous encouragement has been instrumental in my journey. I am committed to using this award as motivation to continue making a positive difference in the lives of the clients we serve. 

Sharon Williams is a benefits specialist in the admissions area at KidsPeace Children’s Hospital.