DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Family Services was founded in 1896. The organization works to strengthen families through counseling, education, community building and advocacy.

“We were here when the flood of 1913 was here. We were here through the cholera outbreak. We were here through the depression. We were here through the major things that occurred in Montgomery County,” states Family Services Executive Director, Bonnie Parish.

For more than two decades, the nonprofit has held an essay and poster contest so that children can realize the significance of family and their work.

This is the 21st year for contest, and this year, they’ve also expanded it to video submissions.

“The basis is children live better lives when their families are strong. And families are strong when they live in communities where there’s economic opportunities, where there’s a social network, and of course the educational piece comes in,” states Joyce Willis, the chair of the contest.

This year’s contest theme is “My family: Moving forward in changing times.” 

The art portion is open to those in 4-12th grades; the essay portion is open to those in 3-12th grades; and now a video portion is open to those in 9-12th grades. 

In the past, they’ve received hundreds of submissions; one year they received more than 600 entries.

“Every year when we read those essays and look at those pictures, you can feel the stories come from these families. We’ve had some incredible stories and some incredible essays and that’s our reward,” says Parish.

The reward is reciprocal. They say this contest also makes a difference for kids. 

“Family Services provides counseling for families who have concerns or issues, and I feel maybe if we give students the opportunity to express themselves, those things won’t be bottled up, and we won’t need to have the to come here for counseling–kind of work us out of a job,” states Willis.

The deadline to enter is October 28th. The awards breakfast will be held November 19.

For more information and further details on how to enter, contact Family Services at 937-222-9481.