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Advocates honored at annual dinner


May 21, 2015            

CONTACT:  Mary Parks

Senior Public Information Specialist



Nine Riverside County Residents Honored



Riverside County- At its second annual recognition dinner, the HOPE Collaborative honored nine residents for their work in preventing child abuse and neglect of children across Riverside County.  Among those honored were Lake Elsinore residents Sheila and Paul Bywater who have opened their home as foster parents to more than 1,000 children.


“This has been our way of life for almost 35 years and we love being advocates for all children and families,” said Sheila Bywater, who acknowledged the many friendship’s made over the years with Department of Social Services caseworkers.


DPSS Director Susan von Zabern thanked the HOPE Collaborative for bringing the community together, “it’s an honor to recognize individuals who dedicate themselves to bettering the lives of children and families in Riverside County,” von Zabern said.


HOPE is an acronym for Healing, Outreach, Prevention and Education and is a collaborative of agencies across the region.  Family Service Association CEO Dom Betro said “this represents great partnerships with the community especially DPSS, thank you for helping us protect children and families in Riverside County.”


Deborah Jennings of Moreno Valley has been a foster mother to 30 children, ten of whom she has adopted, “foster parenting is about love and stability for all children,” Jennings said.  She was recognized as an Advocate of the Year.


The mission of HOPE Collaborative is to promote the safety of children and prevent abuse and neglect in Riverside County.   HOPE Collaborative chairperson Dr. Carla Lidner-Baum said “we are all very humbled by how little it takes to make a big difference in a child’s life.”


Those honored as Children and Family Advocates of 2015 included:

  • Sheila and Paul Bywater
  • Kimberly Taylor and Gina Graham
  • Erica Schwartz
  • Michael Wallace
  • Deborah Jennings
  • Opal Singleton