United Services of Johnson County has announced the winners of its annual Human Service Awards.
Alice Kitchen, UCS Citizen of the Year
A longtime volunteer, Kitchen served as UCS executive director in 1984, during which time she led an action group whose mission was to persuade the Kansas legislature to provide health insurance coverage to women who had lost access to care due to the death of a spouse, divorce or disability. She retired as director of social work and community services for Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics in 2010.
Sandy Praeger, UCS Distinguished Public Service Award
The Kansas Commissioner of Insurance is honored for devoting her entire public service career to expanding health care for low income individuals and families. In addition to her work at the state level, Praeger also served as the president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2008. In its citation, USC says, “she led the effort to establish a Kansas Health Care Exchange, before it was halted by the Governor’s office and return of federal dollars. She understood that states managing their own exchanges would be well-positioned for a successful implementation. Sandy also understands that in order to reduce the number of uninsured in Kansas, the state must expand Medicaid coverage and has been a vocal advocate for expansion.”
Trauma-Informed Care Task Force, UCS Excellence in Community Service Award
Convened in late 2011, the Trauma-Informed Care Task Force was formed to explore how criminal behavior, substance abuse and other destructive activities may be the result of individuals trying to cope with traumatic events in their lives. “The Task Force – which is comprised of representatives from 12 diverse organizations – is creating a paradigm shift that empowers human service organizations, the criminal justice system and others on the front lines to recognize the personal histories of trauma among the people they serve,” reads UCS’s citation.
UCS is a non-profit that has been dedicated to enhancing the delivery of health and human services in Johnson County through research and information, collaborative planning and mobilization of resources.