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Published On: Sun, May 8th, 2016

KOPMN Names 2016 Mothers of the Year

By CRA News Service

KOP Mentoring Network has announced the five honorees for its 2016 Ladies of Distinction awards and picnic on May 7. The distinguished honorees are Nancy Stewart-Franczak, Lisa Plepler, Rhonda Rogers, Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor and Vanessa Young.

The City of Delray Beach and CRA Media Group are sponsoring the picnic, which takes place at Catherine Strong Park, 500 SW 6th Street, Delray Beach, from 12 noon to 2 p.m.

The five were selected from more than 30 entries, organizers said.

“We had 37 nominations and most of them were very impressive,” said Robert Dodd, a spokesman for KOPMN, which has been honoring mothers on Mother’s Day for the past 24 years. “We picked the top five, which was not an easy task.”

A panel of past honorees and community leaders served as judges, he said.

After a seven year-tenure with IBM, Stewart-Franczak launched a graphic design and advertising agency 30 years ago. The Delray Beach resident closed the agency and today manages all the advertising, design and marketing of several local festivals including the Annual Delray Beach Garlic Festival. The two-day event is staffed by members of nonprofit organizations and to date, she has donated more than $600,000 to organizations serving education and arts.

Plepler is the director of the Arts Connection in New York City, an organization that provides high quality arts education and cultural experiences to children and teens in New York City public schools.
Her caring and philanthropic spirit extends far beyond the Big Apple to the streets of Delray Beach.  

She has served as a consultant to KOPMN officials and has provided financial support to take hundreds of South Florida students on field trips, provide meals for the afterschool program and sponsor quality programming for the youth.

Rogers has volunteered more than 1,000 hours annually to various community organizations.
The Boynton Beach resident instilled in her sons, both college students, the gifts of strength, respect, discipline and kindness. They value education and have focused career goals to give back to their community, a trait very much learned from their mother, nominator Mary Swinford wrote in her letter.

“When her sons were younger they were members of the Men of Tomorrow mentoring program, where Ms. Rogers volunteered and offered support to other single mothers like her,” Swinford wrote.
Taylor has been a champion for the underserved particularly those in poverty, homelessness, disabled and unemployed. She uses her communication and advocacy skills to ensure that the needy, especially the youth, are served and most importantly heard.

She has influenced public policy, which created the youth services department within the county government. The department fosters awareness and exposure to solutions that prevented young people from reaching their full potential. As mayor, she established the inaugural Mayor’s Ball, an annual catalyst to raise awareness and funds for homeless youth and adults in Palm Beach County.

Young, director of community outreach for the Kravis Center, works closely with the organization’s marketing department to broaden the center’s community efforts. She also works with several community organizations, businesses and educational institutions to further the Kravis Center’s outreach initiative. More than 1 million students have been exposed to the arts, thanks to Young’s working closely with the Kravis Center’s education department.

“I am both humbled and deeply touched to be recognized,” said Young, who serves as a youth mentor, social justice advocate and volunteer was several community organizations. “I have always felt that being a parent to any child is one of the greatest honors that can be given to any human being.”

Past honorees include Boca Raton residents Rita Thrasher and Rachel VanNess, who also is a Delray Beach police sergeant, Beach community leader Ida Elizabeth “Libby” Wesley, Nancy Hurd, founder of the Achievement Center for Children and Families, Janie Ramirez, founder of Cinco De Mayo and La Paloma Folkloric Dance group and Vera Rolle Farrington, founder of the EPOCH and the Spady Museum.                                     

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