Senator Ron Wyden has selected Portland area TV personality Jeff Gianola as his Angel in Adoption for 2013. Gianola has been a longtime partner with DHS in his work with the "Wednesday's Child" program.
Each week Gianola produces the segment, Wednesday's Child for KOIN TV in Portland. The piece, now in its 28th year features local foster children who are adoption eligible.
"There is no more tireless advocate for foster care children than Jeff Gianola," Wyden said. "I have known Jeff since he came to Portland in 1983. Since then he has not only become a familiar face on local television, but also a guiding light in the lives of foster kids."
Helping children in foster care is a passion of Gianola's. At each filming, Gianola personally purchases the featured child mementos of their day on camera. Sometimes he offers funding to caseworkers for extracurricular activities, lessons, camps and team sports. His efforts in the area of helping foster children spurred the news anchor to found the Wednesday's Child Foundation, which helps defray the costs of those activities.
Gianola was referred to the award by Kendra Morris-Jacobson, Director of the Oregon Adoption Resource Exchange and Oregon Post Adoption Resource Center for Northwest Resource Associates.
"Jeff puts kids, foster parents and caseworkers instantly at ease with his jovial personality and outgoing demeanor," Morris-Jacobson said. "Even hesitant or shy children quickly relax and enjoy his engaging conversations and the fun activities. Prospective parents describe to us how his compelling stories help them decide to adopt."
Morris-Jacobson fondly recalled a filming at a craft studio where two sisters spoke about their desire to try ballet. "Jeff ditched the footage," Morris-Jacobson said. "Instead, he proposed we film them all over again. This time at a ballet studio where they could live their dream and wear and keep real dance clothes."
Gianola offered to pay for continuing ballet lessons for the sisters.
The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, or CCAI Angels in Adoption Program honors individuals, couples and organizations from all 50 states who have made extraordinary contributions on behalf of children in need of families. Roughly 2,000 Angels have been honored since the program’s inception in 1999.
In addition to educating members of Congress about foster care and adoption related work, Angels in Adoption raises public awareness about the difference adoption makes in the life of a child.
Gianola works closely with DHS’s own Jordana Leeb and Diamond Livingston who help with scouting filming locations and scheduling.
His commitment to foster children earned the thanks of DHS Director Erinn Kelley-Siel. "People who do the work of serving children and families truly amaze me and are such an encouragement," she said.