Charlene Fu and Anna Zuckerman. PHOTOS: Gillian Randall Photography

KidSafe Recognizes Fu and Zuckerman at Annual Awards

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Thursday April 26, 2018

Over 275 guests joined KidSafe Collaborative April 10 to recognize dedicated community members working to support families and protect children at the KidSafe Annual Outstanding Service Awards Luncheon at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Conference Center. This year’s awardees included two South Burlington residents, recent South Burlington High School (SBHS) graduate Charlene Fu and Pediatrics Resident Dr. Anna Zuckerman. Dr. Lewis First, Chief of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont (UVM) Children’s Hospital, also a South Burlington resident, served as emcee alongside KidSafe Executive Director Sally Borden who presented the awards.

Fu was nominated by Service Rendered Inc., an organization working to reduce youth risk behaviors, for the Outstanding Volunteer Award. As an SBHS student, Fu saw the need for a place where young people could hang out and enjoy activities in a drug/alcohol/tobacco-free environment. Concerned about many of her fellow students who engaged in substance use, Fu proposed the creation of a teen youth center, and working as a volunteer, under the auspices of Service Rendered, took the lead in making it happen. Her vision, The Chill Out Center, located at the University Mall in South Burlington, is now a reality. The Chill Out Center provides a safe place for teens to interact and engage in a range of activities, from playing computer games to learning computer skills and English language support.

To achieve her vision, Fu outlined the plans for the center, recruited eight others to serve on the youth advisory board, and became the advisory board president. She presented to the South Burlington City Council multiple times, requesting financial support, and earning the council’s trust and support. Fu also took charge of designing the space and coordinated the hanging of 30 large-scale artworks from fellow SBHS students to decorate the center. To date, at least 3,000 teens and parents have visited The Chill Out Center.

Perhaps most impressive, Fu only emigrated from China in 2014. For a young person new to the U.S. and adjusting to a drastically different culture and language to engage fully in creating the center was truly remarkable. While deeply committed to the project, she still achieved academic success and now attends Middlebury College. As noted by Service Rendered Executive Director Bruce Wilson, “Few adults, much less teenagers, have been able to accomplish what Charlene has done. Charlene Fu absolutely amazed me with her vision, organizational skills, determination, and innovative spirit. “

Zuckerman was recognized for her “above and beyond” commitment, receiving the 2018 Promising Young Professional Award. Zuckerman moved to South Burlington in 2016 to begin a pediatric residency at the UVM Children’s Hospital after completing Columbia University Medical School, and then conducting research on school-based health centers in the Dominican Republic. UVM Children’s Hospital members and the Winooski school community nominated her for her undertaking of an unusually challenging child advocacy project, to develop and launch a School-Based Health Center in Winooski, which opened in early 2018.

The need was great; JFK School serves pre-K through high school students in Winooski, one of Vermont’s most diverse communities. Many students are New Americans and English language learners. Zuckerman successfully “organized and orchestrated from the ground up” a medical clinic in a district that features ethnic diversity yet also has a challenging rate of poverty. Here, children may be at risk of not receiving needed medical attention because their parents have no transportation, cannot take time off from work, or have language barriers.

In establishing a school-based clinic, Zuckerman addressed these healthcare disparities head on. In addition to providing accessible health services right at the school, the clinic assists families with insurance eligibility, communicates with the child’s primary care provider; and ensures the child has a medical home where his/her health care will continue.

The complicated process of organizing a new center required a team approach as well as leadership and vision. Zuckerman provided that leadership, undertaking all aspects of the work, from planning and convening meetings throughout the community to writing grants to obtain funding – all the while completing her time-intensive residency program. The scope of the project, and the successful launch, are “above and beyond for someone so early in their career.”

Within pediatrics, Zuckerman hopes to pursue a career in primary care. Outside of medicine, she loves being in the beautiful Vermont outdoors as well as learning languages, traveling, and sitting around campfires.

Additional 2018 award recipients were Mike Ohler for Outstanding Professional, Betsy Cain for Lifetime Achievement, and Sophia Donforth for the Janet S. Munt Prevention award. Also present to recognize the awardees were Governor Phil Scott, Burlington Chief of Police Brandon del Pozo, and representatives from Vermont Congressional offices.

The KidSafe Collaborative is a nonprofit organization that engages groups and individuals to work together to improve the community’s prevention of and response to child abuse and neglect. They are a member agency of the United Way of Northwest Vermont.