By Ed Runyan
High school student Diane Moody and college student Roberta Cykon both had the misfortune of needing the care of Trumbull County Children Services during their teen years.
Moody, who is graduating from Lakeview High School this year, came to the agency in 2004 because of physical abuse and neglect and has spent many years under the care of a foster family.
Cykon, who attends Youngstown State University, lived at Children Services for close to a year in 1988 and 1989 as a result of problems at home.
They both spoke Thursday at the annual Rising Up and Moving On luncheon to describe the ways in which they have overcome the problems of their youth and to be honored for the progress they’ve made.
“They’ve never treated me as a foster child. They’ve treated me as their own,” Moody said of her foster parents, Tim and Charlene White, as she stood at a podium in St. Demetrios Banquet Center with Charlene.
Moody will be attending Youngstown State University this fall on scholarship, said Ramona Marsh, her caseworker.
“She has flourished in the care of her foster parents, has excellent grades at Lakeview High School and is slated to graduate June 3,” Marsh said.
“Diane works a part-time job, loves to read and continues to maintain contact with three of her four younger brothers.
“She is a bright, happy girl with a beautiful soul,” Marsh said. “Contrary to what we have seen with so many with the children we care for, instead of choosing to repeat past history, she is choosing to surge forward and write her own future.”
Cykon, 39, of Fowler Township, “experienced much sadness in her teenage life [but] held an inner joy and exuberance for a hopeful tomorrow that endeared her to all who worked with her,” said former caseworker, now supervisor Judy TursChak.
Cykon returned to her parents’ home and graduated from Warren G. Harding High School in 1991 and has worked in the banking and hospital fields.
Meeting Warren nursing-home owner and community activist Helen Albert gave Cykon inspiration to start Integrity Beauty Women of Excellence, a Christian-based organizations that mentor women and girls.
“I want to teach women that they can soar just where they are in life ... no matter where they have come from,” Cykon said.
Peppi McGhee of Warren was honored for obtaining permanent custody of his 4-year-old son, Elijah, and serving as a positive role model.
Mayor Doug Franklin, who served as keynote speaker, told the crowd he believes part of being a positive role model is sharing stories of adversity with your children.
“Let your children know about the adversities you have overcome. We sometimes teach our children to avoid [adversity] at all costs, but ... let’s teach our children to learn from our mistakes.”
He quoted industrialist Henry Ford, who said, “Failure is only the opportunity to start again more intelligently.”
Others honored for their service to children were Father James Barkett, Atty. Rachel Nader and Trumbull South Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 115.