Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Long Time Child Advocate Receives Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award

Tom Vitaglione Receives High Honor from Governor Perdue

Raleigh, NC - Tom Vitaglione, Senior Fellow for Health and Safety at Action for Children North Carolina and Co-Chair of the Child Fatality Task Force, was honored by Governor Beverly Perdue yesterday with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

"It has been said that John Chapman, or Johnny Appleseed as we know him, scattered seeds of kindness and love across America," said State Senator Bill Purcell, who presented the award to Vitaglione yesterday. "No one has scattered seeds of kindness and love better than the man we honor today, Tom Vitaglione."

For three decades, Vitaglione served in the N.C. Division of Public Health as chief of the Children & Youth section of the Division of Women's & Children's Health. In that capacity, Vitaglione supervised all health programs for the state's youth, including a wide range of prevention and specialized services. He was instrumental in promoting and bringing about the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and was a strong advocate for the Infant Homicide Prevention Act.

After his retirement from the Division of Public Health, Vitaglione co-chaired the Child Fatality Task Force, a legislative study commission working to reduce child deaths, and served as Senior Fellow in Health and Safety for Action for Children North Carolina for 11 years. Vitaglione plans to retire from Action for Children and the Task Force in August.

Vitaglione also serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Malawi Children's Village (MCV), a village-based support program for orphans and other vulnerable children in Mangochi, Malawi. MCV provides shelter, food, safety, health care and education to over 2,000 HIV/AIDS orphans living with members of their extended family in 37 villages. Vitaglione and wife Eve served as Peace Corps volunteers in Malawi from 1965 to 1967 and have been involved with MCV since the project's inception. They plan to spend more time in Malawi after Vitaglione's retirement in August.

The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is one of the highest honors the governor can bestow on a North Carolina citizen. Created in the mid 1960s, the award is given to residents in recognition of a proven record of service or some other special achievement. Past recipients include such famous Tar Heels as Maya Angelou, Billy Graham, Michael Jordan, Bob Timberlake and Rick Hendrick, along with longtime state employees, prominent business executives and noted politicians, athletes, musicians, actors and advocates.

Action for Children North Carolina is a leading statewide nonprofit organization based in Raleigh and is the 2008 winner of the N.C. Center for Nonprofits' Nonprofit Sector Stewardship Award. Since its founding in 1983, Action for Children has been the leading voice for North Carolina's children. Action for Children is the KIDS COUNT partner in North Carolina and the state affiliate of the national organization, Voices for America's Children.

For more information, visit www.ncchild.org.

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