Founder of California Safe Schools, was named the first recipient of the Francis Eleanor Smith, "Helping the Helpless Children" award.
On Saturday, the California Association of American Mothers,Inc. held their annual celebration honoring outstanding mothers. The festive , well attended event which included a beautiful luncheon, was held at the picturesque La CaÃ±ada Flintridge Country Club.
American Mothers, Inc., is an interfaith, non-political, no-profit organization that recognizes the important role of motherhood through educational programs and community outreach. It is also the organization responsible for annually selecting the National Mother of the Year and is the official sponsor of Mother's Day.
Robina Suwol, the first recipient of the Francis Eleanor Smith , "Helping the Helpless Children" award, and was celebrated for her service to children. Francis Eleanor Smith was honored in 1936 as the California Mother of the Year and went on to be named the National Mother of the Year. Because of this distinction, friends and neighbors were so elated that they raised funds to start a rehabilitation center for crippled children in her honor. In 1938 in Chino, Califorinia, Casa Colina (she refused to let them name the center for her) opened its doors. Francis worked full time at the Center without salary until her death in 1952.
UTNE Magazine named Suwol one of "Fifty Visionaries Who Are Changing the World." For decades she has spearheaded efforts to protect our most vulnerable population, including founding California Safe Schools (CSS), a children's environmental health and justice non-profit in 1998. She achieved national prominence by spearheading the Los Angeles Unified Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Policy, the most stringent pesticide policy in the nation for K-12 public schools, and the first to embrace the "Precautionary Principle" & "Right to Know." The success of the policy led to California's Healthy Schools Act.
Today the LA Unified IPM policy serves as an international model for school districts and communities. In 2005 Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 406 (Montanez) sponsored by Robina & CSS. This bill bans experimental pesticides from California K-12 public schools if their health effects are unknown. As a result more than 6 million California children and hundreds of thousands of school children are protected from experimental chemicals.
Under Robina's leadership CSS has facilitated changes at the policy level as well as at the grassroots which creates a lasting institutional protection. Robina is the proud mother of two sons, Brandon and Nicholas. The inspirational award was eloquently presented by Kathy Ward of Casa Colina.
Additional honorees included: Renee Evans Starr, of Covina, 2013 California Mother of the Year; Stephanie Lynn McKnight, of Ramona, 2013 California Young Mother of the Year, and Janice Rutherford-Lim, of Rancho Cucamonga, 2013 California Mother of Achievement.