Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida has awarded Marshall T. Bower, President & CEO of the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, Inc., with the 2014 Prendergast Child Advocate of the Year Award in recognition of his passion and dedication to helping abused and neglected children.
Every year, in April or May, in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida and the Prendergast Family Endowment Fund host a lecture on child abuse and award a special individual in the community for their commitment to prevention.
“Every year April highlights the importance of protecting our children and the role each of us plays within the community. By focusing on ways to promote positive interaction with children and families we can prevent abuse and damaging behaviors that impact our children,” says Kathy Bridge-Liles, Chief Administrative Officer of Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. “Marshall Bower has helped to make our community a better place for children through his advocacy and leadership roles. He truly believes in providing all children with a safe, stable and nurturing environment in which they can flourish and grow.”
Bower received the 2014 Child Advocate of the Year award at the Golisano Children’s Hospital Annual Pediatric Conference at Sanibel Harbor on May 31. He has been described as one of the most dedicated child advocates. He is celebrated for his community efforts to provide high quality education and unwavering support to Lee County’s children.
Bower’s passion for children’s issues developed through his work as a public prosecutor. He was also partner in the law firm of Bower & Liles, P.A., which donated extensive pro bono work to children’s legal issues. Bower’s history is one of service and he is a strong proponent for children in need, as evidenced by a long list of awards and distinctions.
Bower is currently President and CEO of the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, Inc., a position he’s held since 2006. Bower directs the Foundation staff in their mission to enhance and enrich the quality of public education in Lee County through programs, resources and experiences made possible through corporate, individual and educational partnerships.
“What an incredible honor this is, and I will continue to work to make a difference with programs that provide stability, comfort, and a voice to the children in our community who are experiencing challenges some of us could not imagine enduring,” says Bower. “Providing support and guidance for our children so they can get ahead and lead bright, healthy, productive lives is priority number one. There is no greater mission than making a difference in the life of a child.”
In 2005, Mrs. Eileen Prendergast and her family gave this community “a million reasons” to help children in Southwest Florida when they made a $1 million gift to establish the Prendergast Endowment Fund for the Child Advocacy Program at the Golisano Children’s Hospital and the annual Prendergast Child Advocate of the Year recognition. The program features free parenting classes taught in partnership with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida to prevent child abuse. These classes have touched the lives of over 7,000 parents in the Southwest Florida region.
According to Child Maltreatment 2012, the most recent report of data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), a nationally estimated 686,000 unique number of children were found to be victims of child maltreatment in 2012. The unique count of child victims tallies a child only once regardless of the number of times he or she was found to be a victim during the reporting year.