Some People Glow

tree

Some People Glow…

At 1:00 this afternoon, a group of coworkers gathered in the courtyard of the National Children’s Advocacy Center to pay tribute to a woman who spent years touching the lives of children and families.  After a long battle with cancer, she slipped away at the beginning of April.

I didn’t know Yvette well.  I have been here almost a year, and I think the first time I saw her was at a training in our building in July.  I didn’t know who the petite woman who was impeccably dressed and full of energy was, but she had a glow.  Some people just do.  There are some people you like before you even meet them because you can feel the love and energy from across a room.  It wasn’t until she retired a few months later that I heard stories and memories and all sorts of amazing things about the woman who spent years as the training outreach coordinator of the Southern Regional Children’s Advocacy Center. Again, her glow filled the room.

Here in the training department, we do recordings from time to time, and speakers come in to share their knowledge and experience on camera.  In December, Jim Holler, a retired officer who speaks around the country on child abuse and safety, came to record several presentations.  As we were about to begin, the fire alarm went off, and we all had to exit the buildings.  Of course, the fire alarms were known to go off for no reason, and we took our sweet time, all the while being scolded by Jim (a former firefighter) for lollygagging.  Turned out that Yvette had burned a bagel on her last day of work.  She said she wanted to go out with a bang.  There were smiles and laughter.  In February, we had more experts in to record training, and while they were here, Yvette dropped by to say hello.  The three guests hugged her and regaled her with questions and conversation.  After she left, I listened as they talked about how wonderful she was, and I was struck again by the impact she seemed to have on everyone who knew her.

This afternoon as people shared memories, tears flowed, and rain began to drizzle (some said it was Yvette watering her tree), there was that glow of love again.  And now every year in the spring a vibrant pink dogwood will bloom in celebration of the lives she helped to change.  It was a fitting tribute.  As the leader of the SRCAC bent to spread some of Yvette’s ashes around the beautiful tree, I couldn’t help but think of the verse that says, “To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.”

Not everyone gets to work somewhere so full of people who exude care, who feel like family, and who have a passion for what they do every day.  Yvette absolutely had that passion, and so do the people I saw standing in the courtyard.  I have no idea how I got fortunate enough to be included, but I am thankful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEDvSFGZt9I

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NCAC Symposium: Changing the World for Children One Week at a Time

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For most people, April 4-7 was just the greater portion of a week like any other week. However, my colleagues, me, and 1200 others, it was the week for the National Children’s Advocacy Center’s 32nd International Symposium on Child Abuse.  I’ve heard the saying before: Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life.  After watching my colleagues work harder than any people I’ve seen over the last few weeks and, specifically, the last four days, I am not sure I entirely agree with the “not working” part.  But the love is absolutely there.  And the lives children all over the world will continue to be changed as a result.

The National Children’s Advocacy Center began in a small town in North Alabama in 1985, the passion and dream of a representative named “Bud” Cramer and several others.  You see, prior to the CAC model, children who had already suffered trauma were asked to relive that trauma 4 or 5 times with 4 or 5 different people in 4 or 5 different settings before a case ever reached the courtroom.  And because every participant in the process was basically blind to the others, it was hard to help the children or their families in any cohesive way. Mr. Cramer decided that someone needed to do better for our kids, so he became that someone, challenging the idea that one person cannot change the world.

Thirty years ago the NCAC settled into a small house in downtown Huntsville, and they began helping children by working together as agencies, providing services to help children deal with the trauma, and changing the way we talk to children about what has happened to them.  I do not have any absolutely certain statistics regarding how many children have been helped by the now over 900 CAC’s throughout the country and world, but I know that in 2015 alone, 311,688 children were served in CAC’s across the United States.

12961678_10209291350580096_6530037958556535154_nSo back to this week…I watched in amazement as over 1200 people came through the doors of the Von Braun Civic Center to register for and attend the Symposium. They were social workers, law enforcement officers, child service workers, medical professionals, prosecutors, and medical professionals.  I observed my colleagues packing, unpacking, setting up, greeting, assisting, attending workshops, and presenting workshops.  That first morning attendees lined up for assistance with the very robust App designed specifically for our Symposium by members of the training department.  I cuddled with Bonnie, a therapy dog who is trained to calm and assist children who walk into a CAC.  I learned about how to protect my own kids, and my admiration grew for the people who spend every day doing the same thing for ALL children.

Yesterday I drove home after helping unload a moving truck full of boxes and technology (and all sorts of other items) and settled into the sofa, still chattering about all I had seen and heard.  I told a coworker this morning that at 8:00 I crawled into bed and turned on the Investigation Discovery channel, and I do not even remember how the show I was watching began.

I’m honored to have been a very small part of this.  I’m blessed in that I get to be a small part of the NCAC every day.  And I am thankful that there are dedicated people all over the world who spend their lives standing up for children.