Dr. Maha Younes
Department of Criminal Justice and Social Work, 308.865.8741

Dr. Sandy Cook-Fong, an associate professor of social work at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, has been named the 2011 Western Region Social Worker of the Year.

Dr. Cook-Fong received the award at the National Association of Social Workers Conference held recently in Omaha. She was
recognized for her work with the Royal Family Kids’ Camp she started in Central Nebraska with her husband several years ago. Each June, the one-week camp serves children in the foster care system who have been abused and/or neglected. The camp relies solely on volunteers and is funded through the donations from churches, service organizations and individuals.

“This is a major undertaking that demands networking with the Department of Health and Human Services and foster families, recruiting and training approximately 60-65 volunteers who help with the camp, and ensuring an incredible positive experience for the kids,” said Dr. Maha Younes, chair of the  UNK Department of Social Work.

Camp activities include fishing, scaling a rock climbing wall, horseback riding, miniature golf, and arts and crafts. At the end of the week, the children receive a memory bag to take home, a photo album of pictures taken during the camp, a Bible and a personal CD player with the music they sang at camp.

“Sandy models social work service and ethics effectively for others and has served on various community boards aimed at improving life for others,” Dr. Younes said. “She has also contributed to the professional preparation of students and worked to enhance the profession’s visibility and its recruitment of competent workers.”

Dr. Cook-Fong has worked with Habitat for Humanity, Residential Assistance for Families in Transition and many other groups and organizations. In 2010, she received a Kearney Freedom Award.