WOODSTOCK – Yvonne Frazier is used to getting generic emails from Richmond but when one arrived from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office with "Congratulations" on the subject line she thought she should read that one.
The email alerted Frazier, the program manager of Healthy Families of Page and Shenandoah Counties, that she had won the 2019 Governor’s Honor Award for Enhancing the Prosperity and Quality of Life in Rural Virginia.
“My first thought was who nominated me, and then the second was this is the state level. I was humbled and honored. I knew this was big,” Frazier said.
Her mother went with her to the Sept. 18 ceremony at the Executive Mansion in Richmond. There, Northam placing the award around Frazier’s neck.
“It was really neat,” Frazier said. “To have the Governor’s Award from the state. That’s a big deal. I am proud.”
The governor's office released this statement about Frazier winning the award:
"Yvonne has provided exemplary leadership as the Program Manager for Healthy Families, Page and Shenandoah Counties. Her stellar administrative skills have ensured that rural, low-income parents have the tools they need to guide and care for their children, to improve their education and employment status and to ensure that their children are healthy and prepared for school.
"Yvonne’s creativity, innovation and fearlessness have spawned numerous public private partnerships resulting in a new child care center, expanded rural family access to Baby Boxes, safe sleep practice training and countless learning opportunities for JMU students from a variety of disciplines."
Healthy Families is a 20-year-old service organization with a mission of building healthy families. It partners with agencies to meet the needs of a family, including the need for housing.
The program operates as a community outreach of James Madison University’s Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services, Frazier said, adding that the organization's mission is to help people in the very area she grew up in, went to school in, and works in.
“It (the work) was worth it before but this is the icing on the cake,” Frazier, who has been with the organization for about 15 years, said about receiving the award.
Frazier said that for a long time she has seen the need for child care in Page and Shenandoah counties, noting that it is often too hard to find and too expensive for families to afford. One way to meet that need while promoting childhood development and school readiness was to launch the “Community Care & Learning Center” in New Market, a nonprofit child care center for children 2 to 5 years old where teachers help children learn cognitive and socialization skills.
Frazier is chairman of the center's board, which operates primarily with funds from the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, the United Way, donations and in-kind contributions
“All parents need child care," Frazier said. "We want to be able to provide it for all types of families."