What she did was to labor tirelessly for the most vulnerable members of society — children who have been the victims of abuse and neglect.
Moran was honored in the Mingo County Courthouse Friday for her dedication, hard work and countless hours working of behalf of children. The honor was part of Children’s Memorial Flag Day, a ceremony to memorialize children who have died as a result of abuse and neglect. Moran was given a plaque to recognize her dedication as an attorney on the behalf of the children of West Virginia.
A working actress for 12 years, Moran became inspired by JFK. She joined Volunteers in Service to America, or VISTA, and worked as a community organizer in the South Side of Chicago. From there, she attended community college and Loyola Law School. After graduation, she decided to work with children and low-income families. She came to Mingo County in 1975 as a federally funded attorney, working for people who could not afford to hire a lawyer.
Tanya Webb is a supervisor at Child Protective Services, a division of the Department of Health and Human Resources. She said Moran has been an inspiration to her during her 10-year career with CPS.
“The first day I was in court, Jane told me ‘Tanya, never lose your passion to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.’” Webb said.
Moran said that during the two years she spent with VISTA she realized that for some, the playing field in the country was not even.
“I came to dislike bullies,” Moran said. “I am a small person, and I couldn’t fight them physically. I realized the way to fight them was through the courts.”
Moran said she, like many people involved in the daily struggle with cases of abuse and neglect that end up in court, has had moments when she feels overwhelmed.
“I ask myself, why do I go on with cases that break my heart, when the obstacles are so great and the resources are so limited?” Moran said.
The answer is three fold, she told the CPS workers and others who work with the kids.
“First of all, if we don’t do it, who will? If you don’t help these children now, they will end up in the court system as juveniles or as adults,” Moran said. “Second, I know there are kids alive today because of the work we do. We save children’s lives. Nothing can be more important than that. Lastly, the only way of insuring our future is that we all take care of each other.”
Others who were honored at the ceremony included Judge Michael Thornsbury. He said drug abuse is a common denominator in most of the cases he sees.
“We had 79 child abuse and neglect cases last year,” he said. “Most of those were related to substance abuse. Whether positive or negative, we are the role models for these children. We are seeing the third and fourth generation of children living with drugs abuse. These parents must be willing to improve their lives and the lives of their children.”
In addition to her work in the courts, Moran has helped write laws dealing with abuse and neglect on the state level.
University of Kentucky football player David Jones, a Mingo County native, graduated this year and is now a licensed social worker. He said a childhood friend became involved in drugs in the ninth grade and later died in a car crash.
“When that happened, I knew that sometimes there were no second chances,” Jones said. “I was headed down the wrong path, but someone took care of me, helped me. I want to repay that kindness in Mingo County. I want to start an after-school program in Matewan. If there is nothing for kids to do, they will get into trouble. I appreciate everything everyone did for me, and I want to give back.”
Webb also honored WV State Trooper D.J. Chapman, Tammy Hope, Sam Pauley, Rob Kuenzel and the social services staff at DHHR for their dedication to helping victims of child abuse.
“It takes a special person to be a CPS worker,” Thornsbury said. “All of us involved, the lawyers, CPS workers, law enforcement, we know this is a war. CPS is on the front lines of the war.”