A large crowd of Susanville residents take to the streets in support of Lassen Family Services’ Walk A Mile in Their Shoes event Saturday, April 13. The event is designed to raise awareness about child abuse and sexual abuse in Susanville. Photos by Sam Williams

Walk A Mile event draws 300 to Roop’s Fort, Memorial Park

Those who work with the winner of the 2019 Empathy in Education Award often hear her say, “You just have to care.”

The 2019 winner, Nancy Singh, is a Special Education paraprofessional who has worked for the Lassen High School District for more than 15 years. A LHS graduate, she was also the owner of the former Curl Up and Dye salon and worked at Diamond View Middle School as an employee of the Lassen County Office of Education.

Nancy Singh, left, accepts the 2019 Empathy in Education Award from Lassen Family Services’ Shayla Ashmore at the Walk A Mile in Their Shoes event Saturday, April 13.

Her caring and dedication don’t surprise to the 29 students who nominated her for the award.

“She pushes for you to try in everything,” one student wrote. “She is tough on her students when needed to encourage them to work harder.”

Another wrote, “You can really tell she cares. She also always offers help if someone needs it. She spends hours of her time caring for people and helping students.”

She helps “no matter the class, time of day or how hard it may seem.”

“She may not realize it,” another wrote, “but she brightens my day whenever she talks to or helps me.”

In addition to supporting students for full six periods a day, she often arrives early and stays late. She creates relationships with students, according to her daughter Amy Vaughan, who was inspired by her mother to also take a job in the LHS Special Education office. Amy said her mother regularly receives calls from former students who have now have children of their own, and that says a lot.

The LFS Child Abuse Treatment Program established Empathy in Education in 2009, to recognize anyone who works or volunteers at a school and is kind, caring, compassionate and looks out for the needs of students. It is presented in April as part of the LFS observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month because empathetic school personnel are often the first to recognize the signs of child abuse.

The award recognizes teachers, school secretaries, principals, maintenance staff, bus drivers, aides and volunteers and anyone else who helps students find a way to cope with the trauma that is all too common in our county. Members of the public, mostly students, submitted 123 nominations for the award.

The Associate CHAT therapist Peggy Vaquera announced the winner April 13 at the Agency’s Walk A Mile event for Crime Victim’s Rights Week. Vaquera’s announcement followed Mayor Kevin Stafford’s recitation of the city proclamation recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

Lassen County District Attorney Susan Rios then made an impassioned plea for victim’s rights, reminding those gathered that one in three women and one in five men will suffer at least one sexual assault before the age of 18. She emphasized her goal to make the district attorney’s office more responsive to sexual assault cases.

National statistics reveal an American is sexually assaulted every two minutes.

Participants walked a mile from the Community Center at Roop’s Fort, to Main Street, north on Grand Avenue and west on North Street, back to Memorial Park, , where 300 walkers gathered after the event to eat food provided by three vendors, listen to music provided by DJ Mikey V, also known as Michael Vaquera, and gather information and premiums from community agencies that support victim’s rights.

In addition, CHAT and agency staff displayed artwork from 12 children who submitted entries in the “What Family Means to Me,” art contest.

Participants gathered in the park had a chance to vote for the top two submissions in three age categories. The agency’s donation center coordinator collected hundreds of dollars in prizes for the empath and art contest award winners.

Donations Coordinator Laura Kimball, who crafted the award, said the following local business donated prized for the Empathy in Education award winner and the children who participated in the art contest: Every Bloomin’ Thing donated wall hangings, gardening tools, seeds and a variety of garden accents; Lake Almanor Boating donated a free boat rental; Diamond Mountain Casino donated a room and dinner; The Lassen County Fair donated two all-season passes and two day passes for the art contest winners; Burger King donated 35 ice creams for the art contest winners; Frosty Mill donated four ice creams for the art contest winners; Jeff Chew, of Pizza Factory, donated $40 in pizza; Ace Hardware donated four $10 gift cards; Milwood Florist donated a $30 bouquet of flowers; Port a Subs donated a 6 inch sandwich; Main Street Lube donated a free oil change; Joe’s Coffee donated a mug; Starbucks donated a five-pound bag of coffee; Merry Morsels donated cupcakes and cookies for the walkers; the LFS clothing closet donated IGA water from Cram the Cruiser event; and Honey Lake Firearms donated a BB gun, which may be auctioned off at the agency’s Dancing For a Brand New Me event.