Annual Child Advocacy Awards

Every year United Voices for Children gives awards to honor remarkable ministry volunteer service or advocacy efforts on behalf of children, youth, and/or families throughout the Northern Illinois Conference.

These awards are:

  • Bishop Jesse R. DeWitt Child Advocacy Award
    Bishop Jesse R. DeWitt (1980-1988) led by example as he participated, represented, and spoke out for children, youth, and families who did not have a voice. One of his greatest passions was speaking out to educate and inform local churches about legislation and issues impacting the lives of children.
  • Katherine B. Greene Child Worker Award
    Katherine B. Greene was a past president and founding representative of United Voices for Children who put forth tremendous efforts in promoting child advocacy, working faithfully against child abuse advancing and supporting children with unmet needs across the Northern Illinois Conference. She reminded and challenged us to step up, step forth and speak out for children.
  • Rev. Margaret Ann Williams Service Award
    Rev. Margaret Ann Williams, former Associate Executive of Church Relations at Marcy Newberry, served on the United Voices for Children Board of Directors for 33 years, including a term as president. Rev. Williams’ dedicated service has influenced the lives of children, the church, and the community for nearly 50 years. Award recipients model her “Joy of Serving” within the Northern Illinois Conference Community.

Any United Methodist member, congregation, or friend of UVC in Northern Illinois and the Chicagoland area can submit a nomination to receive one of these awards.

For award information and how to make a nomination, click here

2023 Child Advocacy Awards

On Friday, September 29, United Voices for Children (UVC), along with our affiliate organizations MYSI, Kids Above All, and Rosecrance, hosted “Raising Our Voices Through Resources: A Bridge for the Gap, Part 2″ addressing continued needs for children and youth. Awards were presented by our very own Bishop Dan Schwerin, and included a message from Congresswoman Delia C. Rameriez. UVC’s Community partner, Children’s Advocates for Change, closed the ceremony with Advocacy updates from the State of Illinois and an open conversation on the needs of our children and youth.

Please view Delia’s Message below, and check out our 2023 award winners!

2023 Advocacy Award Winners

Bishop Jesse R. DeWitt Child Advocacy Award

St. Mark Freedom School at St. Mark United Methodist Church,  Chicago for providing K-12 scholars with rich, culturally relevant pedagogy and high quality books that deepen scholars’ understanding of themselves and all they have in common with others in a multiracial, multicultural democratic society, which further empowers scholars to believe in their ability and responsibility to make a difference while instilling in them a love of reading to help them avoid summer learning loss.

Rev. Tura Foster Gillespie for her Teaching Cultural Compassion, which maintains a website dedicated to bringing an amazing selection of books to parents, pastors, Educators and librarians. The books Tura suggests each month are sensitive to our dignity, diversity, and differences. She has read and curated over 1,000 books .Tura’s work empowers families, churches, schools and individuals to know which books are out there for underrepresented demographics.

Katherine B. Greene Child Worker Award

Dr. Dana Weiner for work with Chapin Hall and an initiative statewide for coordinated services for mental health services for children, youth and families including policy and advocacy for child welfare in IL. In March 2022, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker name Dr. Weiner the head of the Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative. According to the Press Release dated Friday February 24, 2023, The goal of the Initiative is to transform statewide systems to provide clear, consistent, and comprehensive guidance to families seeking behavioral or mental health services for children and adolescents.


Rev. Margaret Ann Williams Service Award

Shelley Frizelis, Community Organizer, Jefferson Park Chicago Precinct 16 for her work to coordinate the Faith Leaders Association in the 16th precinct and her tireless advocacy for the children and families seeking asylum living in the police station. Shelley Frizelis has effectively coordinated the sourcing and delivery of humanitarian aid in response to Chicago’s current homeless migrant crisis. Inline with her long history of advocating for those stricken with calamity, Shelley Frizelis again has gone above and beyond her role as a Chicago Police Department Community Organizer, to help women and children during the current immigration crisis. On multiple occasions and now on an ongoing basis, Shelley Frizelis has arranged for foodstuffs through her network of local churches and community organizations, in addition to arranging for bathing and laundry facilities through yet another child advocate, 3rd Place Chicago. Lastly, ministers that Shelley Frizelis has cultivated relationships with during her tenure as a community organizer have provided opportunities and transportation to attend church services as well.

Rev. Tanya Lozano Washington, Lincoln United Methodist Church. Tanya, along with her sister Joline Lozano, created and launched Healthy Hood Chicago, a successful Community health project that served Black and Brown communities suffering health care disparities that were amplified during covid. The Youth health service Corp pipeline program recruited and trained at risk Black and Brown youth from Grammar and H.S. by Medical Students, nurses and other Health Professionals. Many former students now adults are employed in Health care careers. This program continues today in 5 CPS grammar CPS 15 H.S. Tanya continues to serve the children, youth and families of the Black and Brown community of the South and West Side of Chicago.

Past Award Winners

Bishop Jesse DeWitt Child Advocacy Award winners

Katherine B. Greene Child Worker Award winners

Margaret Ann Williams Service Award winners