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VOL. 126 | NO. 10 | Monday, January 17, 2011

Jeremy Park

The Gift of a Teddy Bear


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Last week, we examined two programs spearheaded by the Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation under their TEAM Up initiative (www.teamupmemphis.org). Both TEAMmates and TEAM Mentoring are growing and strengthening our base of mentors by making the experience more adaptable, easy and fun. This week I want to remain focused on youth by discussing the Memphis Child Advocacy Center (www.memphiscac.org) and ways we can help children who have been abused.

The Memphis Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is “helping victims become children again.” Their mission is to serve children who are victims of sexual and severe physical abuse through prevention, education and intervention. The nonprofit is child-focused and provides a safe and warm environment for children and families to receive a number of coordinated services, like counseling. It is a remarkable organization both in the services it provides and its holistic, collaborative approach that incorporates therapists, educators, and interviewers working in conjunction with many other agencies in Shelby County.

As a father, it is tremendously scary to know that an estimated 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually abused before age 18. Also frightening is an estimated 9 out of 10 cases are never reported. According to Tennessee law, ALL adults must report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect. Abuse of children occurs in every class, race, religion and neighborhood. As a community, it is something we need to continually focus on stopping, while helping to heal victims.

When it comes to helping efforts of the CAC, there are a number of ways you can easily volunteer with an adjustable schedule. As an Ambassador, promote the CAC through personal networks and help raise awareness for child sexual abuse. Coordinate a seminar with an Education Consultant to provide adult training at your business or community organization. Help with administrative duties, like mailings, data entry and filings, or projects, like window-washing and taking inventory of play rooms.

The CAC keeps a “wish list” online where you can view most-needed items. A recent list includes baby wipes, G-rated DVDs, new toy trucks, construction paper and plastic storage bins. These can be in-kind gifts and make a wonderful focus for office or family collections.

Another amazing collection opportunity lies with “Bearing It Together.” Upon entering the CAC, each abused child is able to select a teddy bear of his or her choice. Children are encouraged to take their bear to therapy, court and wherever else they may need extra comfort.

These bears, which play such an important role, are donated by individuals and groups. So, for a truly memorable experience, I would like to recommend a drive for new, generic, colorful teddy bears. There is something remarkable in knowing that you are helping a child find comfort and regain innocence.

Jeremy Park, director of communications at Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance and director of the Lipscomb & Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com.

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