Shelly Yanoff, former executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY)
, has been chosen as the 2017 “Looking Out for Kids” Lighthouse Award recipient for her tireless commitment to improving the lives of the Philadelphia region’s children by developing initiatives and advocating for quality healthcare, child care, public education and family stability.
The Lighthouse Award was established by Salus University to honor those who are beacons of light and sources of strength in the community in which they live, work, and serve, above and beyond their occupations. Award-recipients demonstrate stellar, selfless, path finding community service that substantially benefits the health and well-being of disadvantaged and underserved children and youth in the greater Philadelphia area.
Ms. Yanoff will be recognized at the 11th annual “Looking Out for Kids” (LOFK)
charity fundraiser, which funds the University’s school vision program. Money raised at the LOFK charity fundraiser provide nearly 3,000 vision screenings annually, comprehensive eye examinations for hundreds of children who fail the screening, and two pairs of eyeglasses each to underserved and underinsured children in Philadelphia and Montgomery County schools.
Ms. Yanoff has devoted her life to ensuring children have access to critical healthcare services and health insurance throughout her numerous career achievements, especially during her 26-year tenure at PCCY. Ms. Yanoff is the epitome of what the Lighthouse Award exemplifies, according to PCCY Health Policy Director Colleen McCauley, who presented her nomination.
“Shelly works from the premise that ‘all kids are our kids’ and that ‘democracy is not a spectator sport’ - that people have to be engaged and care enough to tell their elected representatives to do something better,” Ms. McCauley wrote in her nomination letter. “Shelly has definitely led by example and made this city and its suburbs eminently better for children. Shelly played a major role in expanding the scope and quality of services to children and their families in the region.”
Salus University and its clinical optometric facility, The Eye Institute, are thrilled to present Ms. Yanoff with this prestigious accolade. Her lifelong commitment to children’s health makes her a true embodiment of the Lighthouse Award.
For decades, The Eye Institute’s (TEI) doctors and optometric interns have been providing vision care services for children in need within the Philadelphia community. The “Looking Out for Kids” (LOFK) vision care initiative and charity fundraiser was formally established in 2007 with its first annual gala event.
All funds raised throughout the night help provide vision care services and eyeglasses to uninsured and under insured children in Philadelphia and its surrounding communities. Using these funds, The Eye Institute is making a difference in the lives of children whose families cannot afford eye care services and eyeglasses.
About Shelly Yanoff
Over the course of her expansive career, Ms. Yanoff has widely expanded children’s access to health insurance and healthcare services. She helped craft and spearhead the passage of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), one of the first children’s health insurance programs in the nation. CHIP provides free or low cost, comprehensive healthcare services to over 170,000 Pennsylvania children, and is available in nearly all 50 states.
At PCCY, she established the Child Health Watch Telephone Helpline, a hotline to help parents apply for their children’s health insurance and to resolve insurance-related problems. She also created Give Kids Sight Day, an annual event faculty and students from The Eye Institute, the University’s optometric clinical facility, participates in, which provides complimentary vision care to children in need – the core mission of “Looking Out for Kids.” According to Ms. McCauley “Shelly insisted that the Sight Day events be as much about connecting children to health insurance as they were to healthcare, so that kids could use their insurance and obtain vision and dental care any day and not have to wait for one day out of the year for free services.”
In the realm of advocacy, Ms. Yanoff’s outreach efforts led to the passing of a bill requiring landlords to test their properties and prove they were lead-safe for children. She was a leading advocate on issues ranging from public education, early childhood education and child welfare. She also served as the chair of the Governor’s Commission on Children and Families, appointed by Governor Ed Rendell in 2005.
Ms. Yanoff has received numerous honors including the John Patterson Award for Excellence in Public Education in 1996, The Gimbel Philadelphia Award in 1997, Voices for America’s Children’s Child Advocate Award in 2004, the Red Cross’ Clara Barton Humanitarian Award in 2009 and was nominated twice for The Inquirer’s Citizen of the Year award.
She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Villanova University School of Law, and received an honorary doctorate from Arcadia University in 2012.
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