Local Couple Receives 'Parents of the Year' Award
Edward and Odilia Koni were faced with a difficult decision to leave some of their family behind in West Africa and privation to give their children a better life in the U.S.
Edward and Odilia Koni of Manassas were honored Saturday at a ceremony presented by Virginia Parents' Day Alliance in Bristow.
The Konis, who have eight children, were faced with the difficult decision six years ago of leaving four of their older children (over 21-years-old) behind in Cameroon, West Africa, so they could move to the U.S. and give their four younger children a better education and future.
The Konis said they did not know about the Virginia Alliance 'Parents of the Year' program and thanked their pastor Rev. John W. Green and his wife of HOPE Christian New Life Baptist Church in Manassas for nominating them for the award.
Olymphia Green said she and her husband nominated the Konis because "they had to overcome many obsticals to come to the U.S."
She said once Edward Koni arrived in the U.S. on a visa he worked hard to secure a job and make a way for his family when many in the country were out of work. He recently became a U.S. citizen and is now working as a security officer at FedEx in Lorton, VA.
Olidia Koni worked hard at farming yams, beans, corn and other crops before opening a family day care and rearing their four children in a "deeply faith-oriented way." Their youngest child is a student at Stonewall Jackson High School, while their other children are either in college or have graduated college.
Green said the Koni children are "outstanding citizens" who are involved in their community and in the church.
During their acceptance speech, the Konis, who have been married for 40 years, said throughout everything they tried their best to train and educate their children to be useful citizens. They also said they made a conscious effort to be examples of a good husband and good wife.
Our honorees this year are parenting heroes," said Barbara Moseley-Marks, chair of the National Parents Day Coalition for the Northern Virginia Chapter. "They show us that the love of a mother and a father, and of a couple for each other, can triumph over any storm of strife and privation and lead their children to solid ground."
The ceremony was dubbed a celebration aimed at saying thank you to the Koni family and all parents for their efforts in maintaining the family unit in the United States.
Douglas Burton, media relations representative for the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC), said the HSA-UWC supported the Congressional Act in 1994 that resulted in President Bill Clinton signing National Parents Day into law, which is officially marked every fourth Sunday in July.
He said the nation celebrates Mother's Day and Father's Day, but it is very important to celebrate the institution of marriage and the positive influence a long-term, stable relationship has on a child's life.
He said this is why the alliance chooses to honor the two-parent household and their successes, but says some single parents have been honored in the past because of the hardships they face, as well.
As for the Konis, they have the chance of being selected as the couple from Virginia to participate in the the national Parents’ Day celebration on Capitol Hill on Sept 19.
For more information about the National Parents Day Coalition, visit www.parentsday.com.