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Supper at Sunset was a tightly planned event with purpose

05/28/2018 6:00 AM by

The Supper at Sunset event hosted by ChildSavers was a tightly planned and very well run event. Take a look at some of the images.

Katherine Jester

Though this was a night to celebrate, L. Robert Bolling, ChildSavers CEO asked us all to close our eyes and hear the story of Shelly.

From birth to two years old, Shelly was severely neglected by her parents. During infancy, that nurturing and that loving touches that most of us get from our parents, she did not have, and these were the essential pieces for a healthy life. She was denied that. Instead, she was physically and sexually abused. By two, Shelly is family safe and she’s living with her grandparents. They decide to love her with everything that they have.

But as Shelly grows up, she does not develop like other children. She makes no friends. She’s very quiet. She did not speak before the age of four, and she does not make contact with her eyes until she is five years old. Shelly flies under the radar for the most part of her life. She was held back twice in middle school. She is developmentally behind her peers. At 15 years old, she looks as if she’s 11. She has not yet hit puberty.

At home, she begins to act out, becoming aggressive towards her grandparents and even hurting herself. She scratches and bites her own skin, and she begins to overeat to the point that she is really sick. For Shelly, and for too many children in our community, this is what trauma looks like. Shelly is crying out for help, and until she came to ChildSavers, no one heard her.

Our programs are really important. Sometimes, the work that we do goes beyond the walls of this building. That is why your support this evening is really important tonight. So what does this support do for children like Shelly? Remember, in those young years, zero to five, the brain’s neurons are making connections at a rate of one million per second. For traumatized children, this does not happen. It slows down that rate. And so our work in helping teachers in preschool programs really help support those children so that they can develop those neural connections for lifelong learning.

Also, the work that we do in therapy is really supportive of children like Shelly. We really understand the impact of trauma on that development of that child, and we work to build resilience, so that Shelly can be like those valedictorians that we talked about earlier today.

So let me give you a sense of what some of our looks like. So our clinician, Andrea, was working with Shelly, and not only was she doing the therapeutic work, she was doing a lot of work that we do not get insurance reimbursement for. She connected Shelly and helped her school teachers understand the issues that were facing her, the trauma that she faces, and helped them, and went to every IEP meeting for Shelly, every single one of them, and we did not get reimbursed for that work, but it is necessary that we do that work for the success of Shelly. So your support tonight helps make things like that happen.

Andrea’s an immediate response clinician, which means she’s on call 24/7, 365 days a year, to respond to concerns of traumatized children in our community, and those children who are in crisis. Andrea heard Shelly’s needs, and she advocated for Shelly. After going to these IEP meetings, she even met with Shelly’s family to make sure that they understood everything that took place in those meetings.

The essence of this story is, before ChildSavers, no one heard Shelly’s voice. No one ever asked that question, “What happened to you?” At ChildSavers, we start at this essential place, and we respond to it very quickly. Your support helps Shelly and many other children like her find advocates, allies, and yes, even friends, so that they can live safely, they can be happy, healthy, and ready to learn. So you can open your eyes now, and I want you to think about the many Shellys in our community and your support tonight, and we thank you very much. Have a good evening.


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