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Judy Cockerton Of Massachusetts Wins $100,000 Purpose Prize For Enriching The Lives Of Foster Care Children In New And Creative Ways

Encore.org and AARP recognize the former teacher and toy store owner with award for people 60 and older who unite generations

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Judy Cockerton knows that not all families can bring foster children into their homes, so she's giving people other ways to help kids placed in foster care. For her work in changing lives for the better, Encore.org is awarding Cockerton this year's $100,000 Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Innovation, sponsored by AARP.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20070209/NYF043LOGO )

Years ago, a news story about a 5-month-old foster child who had been kidnapped from his crib shook Cockerton. She and her husband became foster parents themselves, but Cockerton wanted to do more, by helping others do more.

So in 2002, she founded the Treehouse Foundation, which created Treehouse at Easthampton Meadow – a mixed-income, multigenerational housing community in Easthampton, Mass. Families who have adopted or are planning to adopt foster children live among people age 55 and older, who serve as "honorary grandparents."

Cockerton, 61, a former teacher and toy store owner, has inspired more than 600 people to help foster children in Massachusetts, through the Treehouse Foundation and her two other nonprofits, Sibling Connections and Birdsong Farm. Volunteers serve as mentors, tutors and camp counselors. They teach foster kids how to read, plant gardens and ride horses. They take them for nature walks and trips to the playground. They enrich the lives of children who crave and deserve healthy connections to caring adults.

Now in its seventh year, The Purpose Prize is America's only large-scale investment in social entrepreneurs and other creative problem solvers in the second half of life. The Prize program, which recognizes people 60 and older, is funded by the John Templeton Foundation and The Atlantic Philanthropies. The Prize is awarded by Encore.org (formerly Civic Ventures), a nonprofit that promotes encore careers – work that is both personally meaningful and serves the greater good.

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