The “She Inspires” campaign, launched this spring at Green Spring Station, is helping to raise awareness and much-needed funding for some of the stores’ favorite causes and charities. Bridget Stickline, owner of Wee Chic, has long supported the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, and proposed them.
The mission statement of Baltimore Child Abuse Center, a non-profit subsidiary of LifeBridge Health, is to provide victims of child sexual abuse, trauma, and other Adverse Childhood Experiences in Baltimore and their non-offending caretakers with comprehensive forensic interviews, medical treatment, and mental health treatment with a goal of preventing future trauma.
“It is important for people to understand that child abuse impacts everyone, in all demographics. One in four girls and one in six boys experience sexual abuse, often by someone they already know,” says LaDonna Morgan, Director of Strategy and Operations at Baltimore Child Abuse Center.
Children who have suffered child abuse can be revictimized by the investigation into the abuse and the legal process that follows. The national Child Advocacy Model practiced by the Baltimore Child Abuse Center brings together everyone involved in an investigation to uncover what happened. They empower the child to tell their story in a safe setting and begin a pathway to healing. BCAC has a team of six therapists available to provide counseling to victims.
All programs at the BCAC are free. To support its programs, the Center receives $3.5 million in grants and $1 million from donors annually.
the Center’s success comes from its passionate staff and volunteers.
On maternity leave from her job in corporate finance, LaDonna Morgan thought about her next career move. She knew she wanted a job doing something that mattered, and found it at Baltimore Child Abuse Center. As part of the strategic operations she oversees, BCAC has added programs to address human trafficking, which often involves children, and inappropriate internet behavior, where children are groomed as potential sex abuse victims. They have a Healthy Boundaries program at schools and camps, to teach children how to recognize and make responsible adults aware of inappropriate behavior. BCAC was active in passing mandatory reporting of child abuse in the Maryland State legislature, and is now advocating for the removal of the statute of limitations on child abuse charges.
Mandee Heinl understands child abuse firsthand. Her father was abusive to her as a child. The authorities were contacted and came to Mandee’s home to investigate. But, she was interviewed with her father sitting next to her on the sofa, urging her to “tell the truth” that nothing had happened. Her mother was also present at the interview, but she was aware of the abuse and had allowed it to continue, so Mandee had no support from her either. Feeling unsafe, Mandee said everything was fine, and the investigation was closed. Finally, when she was in high school, she was able to move out of her home and live with friends and that gave her the opportunity to have a new life and break the cycle. Mandee’s hope for a brighter future came from a community that gave her the ability to see beyond the walls of her abusive childhood home. She is a strong believer in Baltimore Child Abuse Center’s policy of interviewing children in a safe environment away from offending caretakers, so that they can talk freely and fully about what is happening to them.
Mandee has been a volunteer at Baltimore Child Abuse Center for 3 years. She has fundraised for them – working on the capital campaign and their annual gala, “Be A Hero.”
The critical work that the Center does is particularly important right now. Sheltering in place to stop the spread of COVID -19 is causing tremendous emotional and financial stress in families, and putting vulnerable children and adults at greater risk. Teachers and school staff are often the ones who are the first to spot child abuse, and with schools closed, about 20% of child abuse cases are going unreported.
How can you help?
Call Child Protective Services if you suspect that a child is being abused. They will check out your suspicions.
The Baltimore Child Abuse Center can use your help. Donate to their programs if you can, or contribute to fundraising by serving on a planning committee. Spreading awareness is just as important as money. Volunteer to spread their message as an ambassador.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse or aware that someone else is, The National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) can give you advice on how to handle the situation safely.
Thank you, LaDonna and Mandee, for sharing your mission with us. You look fabulous on a pre-COVID-19-social-distancing afternoon at Green Spring Station!
Location: Green Spring Station
Media: Style Magazine
Makeup: Owen O’Donnell
Hair: Uno the Salon
Photography: Illume Communications