We the people of PearsonLee.com love the kids. And we love people who love the kids: the teachers, coaches, organizations, and the advocates who work to propel them into greatness, who protect their rights, and those who seek justice on their behalf. Those for whom it's not just a job, but a passion or calling. So it was a no-brainer for me to volunteer with Keith Forest's Brooklyn's Best Honors' organization which both honors community leaders and raises money for the "gold standard in Child Advocacy Centers" - Safe Horizon's Jane Barker Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center.
Last Wednesday, Brooklyn's Best Honors presented Safe Horizon/Jane Barker Brooklyn CAC with the proceeds! (below) That was super sweet, but the real honey was behind the scenes.
Photo credit: Qlick Photography
(l. to r.) Michael Lambert (Executive Director of BedStuy BID), Gena Diacomanolis (Senior Director of Jane Barker Brooklyn CAC), Pearson Lee (Author), Keith Forest (Founder of Brooklyn's Best Honors), Andrea Durojiaye (Donor Relations Associate for Safe Horizon) Aqueelah N. White and Kalina Mariano (Momentum Education), and Dana Rosenwasser (Web Content Manager for Safe Horizon) pictured in gallery below.
On a tour of the facility, we discovered a well-oiled machine that possessed a personal touch that would seem mythical for any agency in a city as big as this.
Filled with toys, books, and games, the bright and welcoming reception area allows the children to simply be while awaiting services. Once inside, there were kid-friendly and age-appropriate interview rooms flanked by cameras for observation. There was an examination room (staffed by board certified pediatricians who specialize in child sexual abuse) and a room to privately identify their attacker.
On the other side, where the cogs and wheels further turned, the center houses therapists, Child Protective Services, prosecutors, and the New York Police Department under one roof. Pardon me if I gush, but well, genius! The CPS worker can look over the cubicle divider and engage a detective or turn left and discuss an issue with a therapist. Phone calls and e-mail could work, too. But that's like so 2014. This agency partnership creates a system where all can observe a child's interview in a separate room so the child doesn't have to relive the trauma by repeating the details more than once; and it reduces the time and anxiety of traveling all over the city to get services. (I know! Awesome, right?)
Photo credits: Qlick Photography.
The Center also has what's called "The Closet" where donated clothes, underwear, socks, and shoes are stored for the children who are removed from their homes. This is the personal touch; the cherry to this bittersweet sundae, as the children arrive at all times of the day and night in whatever state they are in when brought in. Being able to choose items from the closet brings a sense of normalcy to an awkward and painful situation.
This is what true service looks like. I tell you, it warms the heart of this here girl.
Service says you care enough about someone else to answer their needs. Brilliance creates systems that make the process easier for those being served, as well as for those serving. One without the other results in either frustration or cold efficiency. Jane Barker Brooklyn has married the two to honor the mission of Safe Horizon by "moving victims of violence from crisis to confidence" in excellence.
Many thanks to Gena Diacomanolis for the bird's eye view of Jane Barker Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center and for her commitment to the children of Brooklyn. And major thanks to Keith Forest at Brooklyn's Best Honors for his commitment to the community-at-large.
Le gush fest temporarily stopped.