By Tammi Pitzen, Executive Director of The Children’s Advocacy Center of Jackson County
We are rolling out our exciting online campaign entitled “You Matter” and really that concept has taken over my life.
I say that a little jokingly but really, in truth, most of my thoughts the last couple of months have been filtered through that lens. Not just my “work stuff” but all of “my stuff” has taken on an extra screening — does this matter? Whether I am washing clothes, taking my son to a play date, reading over homework, smiling at the lady in the drive thru, or just trying to find time for a date night with my husband: Does this matter? Who does it matter to? Why does it matter?
Every day we make choices that matter.
Even the small choices have the potential to impact our world in large ways. We usually underestimate how those small choices will impact our lives and those around us. What I have found is that for the most part we do not believe that what we do matters to anyone. We do not believe that what we have to offer can make any impact in any significant way.
I began to ponder that a little as we were gearing up and brainstorming on all the many ways people matter in our efforts to address child abuse.
We, as a society, value large splashy gifts of goo gobs of money, time or talent. While those gifts are important (and goo gobs is a term I learned from my Development Director, by the way) they alone cannot sustain us over time. I think about that when I am signing thank you letters from the center for donations. I try to write something on every single letter that goes out. I will be honest when I first started signing the thank you letters I had the intention of writing on the ones to people who gave a certain amount, but I could not decide what amount would be considered significant. It was all significant, and so in the end on that first round of thank you letters, I wrote on every single one and I continue that practice today.
Every single dollar amount donated makes a difference in the life of a child served by the CAC.
Every single person who drops off an in-kind gift donation, who volunteers an hour to help with the Winter Gala, every single check sent in or donation made on-line makes an impact. That is not something I say lightly. After working in the field of child abuse for more than 23 year, soon to be 24, I have found that those small random acts of kindness or generosity are really the building blocks that sustain any effort to address this huge societal problem. And isn’t that true of any movement that is successful?
There have been incredible things accomplished one thoughtful step at a time. I think of our holiday gift drive where we provide parents with gifts to give to their children when they cannot afford to do that on their own. It all happens because people buy an extra gift and donate it to the center to give. Every year we have more than enough and it comes from a lot of different sources. I think about our Gala and how many man hours it takes to make that successful. No one single person makes that contribution.
Imagine if every single person gave two dollars to help treat child abuse. In Jackson County there are 208,545 residents, according to the 2013 census. We would raise $417,090 for the treatment of child abuse—all for less than a cup of coffee at your favorite drive thru coffee stand.
What if half of the population of Jackson County could afford to donate ten dollars and the other half could donate time and talent? I get excited about the possibilities of what we can do when we believe that what we do matters.
It really is the small acts of kindness and generosity that make the world go around.
I think about how much “You Matter” in a lot of different ways. You suspect a child in your life is being abused, and what you do or don’t do matters to that child. Step out of your comfort zone, pick up the phone, and call in a report. You have a talent that you would like donate for the Gala, for the healing of children, or just for fun. It matters. It could be life-changing. Do you have time to write a blog about how this community matters in our efforts to address child abuse? Contact us. It matters! Do you have two hours that you can give up to learn about how to protect the children in your life from sexual abuse? Contact the CAC and sign up. It matters.
We all matter. All of our gifts matter. None of us can keep our children protected all alone. It takes every single one of us, each in our own very individual way and at our own individual level. WE are the solution. WE CAN keep kids safe. WE CAN provide Hope! We each need to do our part.
Every day I make a conscious decision to do something on behalf of an abused child.
It may be a donation of time or money. It is a family affair. My husband has entered into this world with me. On any given day he may be making a puppet theatre to donate to the therapy department or maybe you will see him unclogging a water fountain. My son has been known to donate a toy or food to a cause that supports children because “a child needs toys and food!”
What will you do today that matters in the life of an abused child?