by Dana Gourley on February 9, 2019

in Charitable Causes, Community Involvement

Who takes care of the children who are victims? …. The worse that can ever be experienced by children? Violent crimes committed by one or both parents?

Our nation is obsessed with abortion these days. Maybe we should shift focus more to the developmental growth and welfare of children who are born into this world? The brutal realty is some adults are not capable to be good parents and commit violence against their children. In the greater City of Phoenix, Arizona area alone, the family advocacy center supported by donations to Childhelp and in partnership with the City Police Department, receive over 7,000 cases per year. The busiest time of the year for the professional staff (counselors, physicians and crime investigators) is beginning of the school year when children have changed due to trauma that occurred in their lives over the summer. The forensic center is open 24/7 and Childhelp volunteers relieve police officers working at the reception area during the day.

Unacceptable fact: 70% of crimes against children involve victims that are 2 years old or younger in this Country.

A Safer and Happier Place

Marina with an intern, Anita, gave us a tour of Childhelp’s Phoenix advocacy center. Rob and I learned that post-crime forensics and interview of children must be delicately performed by professionals. The environment at the center is inviting, colorful and intriguing for children … think about a large playroom filled with toys, whimsical art placed low on the walls for children to enjoy, and visits by therapy animals including a miniature horse (yes, an indoor, potty-trained horse). The playroom also is an incubator for therapists to observe and better understand the development stage of each child. It becomes critical information when the child is later taken to a small room without any distractions for a one-on-one interview with a therapist. The professional team watching live video of the interview, coaches the therapist on questions that lead to the child’s recall of what happened to them.

No matter what happens during the ensuing legal process and where the child may live, each child who is a surviving crime victim all the way up to age 18, with their guardian can visit the center for on-going therapy appointments.

Before #metoo Movement

Childhelp founders Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Federson invited Rob and me as their guests to their Diamond Jubilee Gala celebrating Childhelp’s 60 years defending children against abuse and neglect. Almost 11 million children children have received their services which become exponential when one considers the children eventually become parents and grandparents. All started decades before the #metoo movement.

During the Gala, we shared a table with Daphne (Sara’s assistant and Chief Communications Officer) and her husband, Michael. I asked what is her haunting concern for the children? Daphne said she no longer fears for those who enter into the Childhelp (CH) system … it is the children who are being abused and have not been discovered yet.

Daphne told us the budget is challenging but with optimism, she said … “We make it work each year”. Sara and Yvonne’s lines-in-the-sand is to find funding to continue programs that work such as art therapy which does not typically qualify for any governmental reimbursement (or grants). Drawing the face of their violator can be therapeutic by tearing away pieces of the paper during each breakthrough in recovery. Daphne also told us about a boy that was cut on his face by a razor to stop him from crying … the budget was stretched for the cost of plastic surgery to cover the scars.

Daphne indicated to us that the CH budget consequently is meticulous, right down to the cost for hooves rhinestones for the miniature pony. One of CH’s goals is to avoid a child having to testify in court. Daphne told us that at least one therapy dog has accompanied a child to court as an comforting encouragement of telling his story to the judge.

Celebrity Bling

Celebrity bling is huge for the continued success of Childhelp. Sara and Yvonne’s business plan is to entertain that in turn, encourages donations to flow … they know because donations and grants are $40 million strong each year. Anyone who has the opportunity to attend one of the CH’s events will be entertained reveling the best of any Hollywood red-carpet event … and the Diamond Jubilee Gala was no exception. The production was underwritten by Dick Stephenson (founder of Cancer Centers of America) and his wife, Dr. Stacey, so all of the donations raised by the gala, exceeding $4 million, are donated to CH. The headliners of celebrities this year included, Cheryl Ladd, Melissa Peters, Kathie Lee Gifford, John O’Hurley, race car driver Paulie Harraka (he and his buddies visit the kids at one of CH’s residential villages during holidays), child singing talent, Rosevelt (who sat with her parents at our table), the Tenors singing group, and the Pointer Sisters were the grand finale. Also, there were high-ranking governmental officials who attended the gala including the current Arizona Governor, two former governors and the State Attorney.

Clinical Side of Childhelp

CH is one of the leading resources on child abuse confirmation and recovery from the criminal trauma. It was the first non-profit organization to setup a nationwide call-in hotline. On February 1, 2019, the test option that many children use for communication went live. CH is also halfway through a 4-year federal grant on testing its protocol that will likely become the national model. Plans also are underway to create a new integrative community in the future.

All of this started over 60 years ago when Sara and Yvonne gathered into their taxi, 11 homeless orphans in a back street of Tokyo. Both ladies share in the belief it was God’s destiny for them but what is stunning for them is the unfathomed love of Childhelp’s many supporters for the sake of the children.

On a personal level, please consider a donation to Childhelp … any donation, either time or money, will go to work on behalf of children. No donation is too small … you can donate by buying one bottle of Watt-Ahh. Thank you.

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