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Bell rings for new and reunified families at the Cherokee County Courthouse

If you hear a bell ring in the City of Tahlequah, chances are something magical has just happened at the Cherokee County Courthouse.

Last month, a 14-foot “Permanency Bell” was erected in front of the courthouse to celebrate family reunifications, adoption finalizations and marriages. Topped with hands stretching out to encircle “The Home of the Heart,” the sign at the base of the bell reads, “Its ringing proclaims the importance of the family unit and when the courts can gladly impact making families whole.”

The idea was brought before the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners meeting in July with a goal to have the bell up and ready for National Adoption Awareness Month in November. That deadline was met with many newly-created families able to celebrate National Adoption Day with a ring of the bell and hugs all around.

“Cherokee County has always been a naturally supportive community,” said Lesley Nix, District Director for Cherokee and Wagoner Counties. “This community genuinely cares about the children, Child Welfare staff, families caring for our kids, and families working to get better. What a joy it is to hear the bell ringing out in honor of FAMILY!”

Cherokee County Child Welfare Specialist, Jennifer Rollman remarked that the community’s celebration of new and reunified families reminded her of her passion for this work – her “why.”

“Social work and Child Welfare is hard,” said Rollman. “It’s long hours, late nights and so much effort. But, weeks like this are so good and make it all worth it. This was the reminder of why we work so hard and why God placed this passion in my heart! So much hard work goes in for this to happen by many people, and I am so thankful to be a small part of such an amazing team! This bell was installed outside of the court house and I’m so thrilled for all the children who got to ring that bell and will get to in the future!”

The bell installation was a Tahlequah community effort, first championed by Tahlequah City Attorney Grant Lloyd and presented by Kalan Lloyd at the County Commissioners meeting. The bell was paid for by the Cherokee County Bar Association, and the Cherokee County Commissioners donated the labor to get it installed. Robert Johnson, co-owner of 490 Creations, designed the bell, his own family made whole by adoption.

OKDHS staff gave the name “Permanency Bell” - a fitting name for something that will ring joy for many families to come.

Last Modified on Nov 18, 2022
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