Root for Kids Honored as a Hurricane Valley Hero

Root for Kids (previously known as The Learning Center for Families) is a non-profit organization located in Southern Utah that provides services for children and families in need of extra support. Led by CEO Suzanne Leonelli, the organization helps families create a nurturing environment for optimal growth and development for each child.

Since 1993, Root for Kids has served over 16,000 families through Early Head Start, Early Intervention and Parents as Teachers home visiting programs in Washington County, Utah, and the Arizona Strip. All services are based on eligibility and are provided at no cost to families.

The early years of life have a profound impact on a child’s future. When loved, nourished, and cared for in safe and stimulating environments, children develop the skills they need to embrace opportunity and bounce back from adversity.

Root for Kids offers free programs to ensure the success of the youngest, most vulnerable members of our community. Services include weekly or bi-weekly home visits, health and developmental assessments and screenings, therapy and learning programs for infants and toddlers with special needs, infant and toddler mental health services, and health and mental health screenings for pregnant women.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, in home visits were temporarily discontinued. Suzanne and her team quickly stepped forward to open a day care center for first responders’ children, at no charge.

Root for Kids offers hope and assistance to overwhelmed parents and their challenged children. The Hurricane Valley Chamber of Commerce is proud to honor them as Hurricane Valley Heroes.

Hurricane Valley Chamber Honors Rich Tabish as a Hurricane Valley Hero

Rich Tabish is the owner of the Stage Coach Grille, an upscale restaurant located in LaVerkin, Utah. A savvy businessman, Rich brought a much needed and appreciated restaurant to the area, providing not only great food, but good jobs as well.

When COVID-19 hit, Rich wanted to recognize the many first responders who, in his eyes, were heroes. Using social media outlets, Rich requested nominations for people who were risking their own health and possibly lives to make certain patients were cared for, people were kept safe, and necessities met.

His list of heroes included doctors, nurses, pharmacists, people in law enforcement, fire fighters, EMT’s, grocery store clerks and employees, truck drivers, delivery people, school teachers, and anyone who was working to keep people well and trying to maintain some form of normality.

The nominations started arriving and, as promised, Rich provided delicious meals to deserving heroes. Not only that, he also provided lunch to LaVerkin City employees and other groups and organizations whom we may never hear about.

Rich was the first in the Hurricane Valley area to step forward to show his gratitude and appreciation to those dedicated people who believe they are “just doing their job”. For that reason, Rich Tabish is a Hurricane Valley Hero.

Jody Rich Honored as Hurricane Valley Hero

Jody Rich has an enduring moto: “Life is not about you. It’s what you do for others.”

Jody loves people and is happiest when serving them in some capacity.

Jody has been a positive influence at Hurricane High School for over 25 years – first as a counselor, then assistant principal, and then 6 years as the popular, atypical, much loved principal, leaving the position to serve the people of Tonga.

The COVID-19 outbreak cut his missionary experience to Tonga short. Sadly, he was forced to return home before he felt his service there was complete.

When the doors opened at Hurricane High School for the 2020 fall school year, Jody rejoined the staff as a counselor, advising and loving the students, pouring himself into the job.

In his years as principal and assistant principal at the high school, Jody attended many school events around the region and state, traveling far from home, happily sacrificing his time. He supported as many students as he possibly could, scheduling time to attend both large and small events. Orchestra events and competitions, water polo games, drill team competitions, track meets, Senior Sneak trips, and scholarship recognitions – all these and more, plus major public events were all part of his self-imposed responsibility.

Jody is the kind of man who enthusiastically greets his students with hugs and words of encouragement. Many parents credit him with helping their struggling child graduate high school. Students openly wept when he announced his retirement. His return to the school was a celebrated event.

Jody radiates love and compassion and has dedicated his life to helping others see their value, recognize their worth, and learn to love themselves.

Jody Rich is forever, a Hurricane Valley Hero.

Washington County Fair Honored as HVCC September 2020 Business of the Month

Planning and organizing a county fair is a huge undertaking. Planning a fair during a national pandemic when an entire nation is shut down seems impossible, but Washington County Fair Director, Susi Lafaele and the fair committee were able to pull it off, seemingly without a hitch.

The COVID-19 restrictions in Washington County were eased just enough in July to allow the fair to occur on August 4th through the 8th. The fair committee was mindful of health and safety concerns and made every effort to take necessary precautions to insure a safe, educational, and fun event for fair goers. Sanitation and handwashing stations were located throughout Legacy Park. Entrances were all one-way and seniors were given dedicated hours to attend the fair. People feeling poorly were advised to stay home.

The fair began with the traditional parade. Prizes were awarded for best seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as best crafts, quilts, and literary arts. 4-H members showed the livestock they had raised and pampered over the year and folks watched in amusement as contestants participated in the Sheep Shearing contest. Judging the baby contest was probably the most difficult, as there are lots of really cute kids in Washington County. Competitive cooks entered the home-made Salsa and Kid’s Cooking contests and cowboy and cowgirls aged 5 – 17 participated in the Jr. Rodeo. Everyone loves county fair food and this year was no exception. The carnival is always a big draw as is the final event – the Demolition Derby. The Washington County Fair ended with a firework display and a relieved committee.

Susi Lafaele and her team are to be commended for another outstanding county fair experience. With all the uncertainty surrounding the event, and last-minute changes and adjustment requirements, it seems they really did do the impossible. It is appropriate that an appreciative HVCC membership voted to honor the Washington County Fair and its committee as the September 2020 Business of the Month.