It’s been a year, with so much of life interrupted – if not broken apart.
It’s not an unknown experience for the abused and neglected children in our community when they are removed from the only families they have ever known.
Since 1981, ProKids has stood up for these children and advocated through passionate volunteers to make sure they are safe, secure and in permanent homes as soon as possible. But now, according to ProKids Executive Director Tracy Cook, our community is expecting more of these children to need our community’s support.
That’s why, for the first time, ProKids is hosting a virtual fundraiser. There are two opportunities for you to join the September 15 event, noon and 5:30 p.m., and in the words of Cook: “Just as you have chosen to rally for your family and the child at the center of your life, together we can lean forward for our community’s most vulnerable children.”
The online event comes as the threat of COVID-19 and the economic stress in our community both continue to rise. And these challenges continue to impact vulnerable families already coming apart due to untreated mental health issues, substance abuse, violence, and generational poverty.
To further explain the work of ProKids and how the community can take a stand, the 30-minute presentation includes a thoughtful reenactment of a family’s story, thanks to community volunteers, as well as presentations by Cook, board member Wynndel Watts and the volunteer who served the family whose story is being shared, Emily von Allmen.
ProKids success requires community
Wynndel Watts, a volunteer at ProKids since 2013, has seen first-hand how ProKids can help stop abuse and neglect and help children to heal. “I am trained to work directly with abused and neglected children – mostly in foster care – giving them a voice and advocating for their best interest,” Watts says.
There are more than 300 current volunteers with ProKids – which is record-breaking. These dedicated advocates have continued their outcome-focused work – even through the pandemic – stopping abuse and neglect for 99% of the children they serve.
“We do not do this work alone,” Watts continues, noting that each volunteer trained by ProKids is then part of an Advocacy Team with two ProKids staff members who are experts regarding the child protection system and the legal system that serves these children. “Together, we find the best possible outcome for the children we serve.”
Timely question, opportunity to respond
“What if your home, where you were told to shelter, was already unsafe and the danger was growing?” asks Tracy Cook, ProKids executive director.
That’s the situation abused and neglected children face in our community, Cook says. But there’s something you can do .
“When you lean forward to support ProKids, we can recruit more community members, from all walks of life, to serve as volunteers,” Cook says. “We can train them to be ready to advocate for our children in crisis, helping put their lives back together one child and one piece at a time.”
These volunteers make sure children are safe and have services to help them heal: from medical care to therapy, school support services to little things like soccer shoes.
By collaborating with other child protection professionals and the children’s loved ones, Cook says, ProKids can “craft solutions that are best for our kids.”
Volunteer reflects on her service
As a CASA Volunteer, Emily von Allmen has always strived to reunify families whenever possible and bring stability to the lives of children in crisis.
In one particular case, which ProKids retold thanks to community volunteer actors, von Allmen was troubled by how the two children she served had to move so often. They’d already been homeless, moving around with their mother who was battling addiction.
“Two different foster homes failed to shepherd these two children through their trauma with love and support,” von Allmen says. When a third placement looked promising, she began to have hope, even as the biological parents lost their rights to parent the sister and brother, then 5 and 6 years old.
Von Allmen became a ProKids volunteer nine years ago. Since then, she has served 22 children in nine families.
“I had become a CASA Volunteer because I believe we can take the time to understand the child and what they are going through,” von Allmen says. “No matter what challenges we face in our lives, they are nothing compared to what these children are experiencing.
“They deserve our support, our encouragement and our advocacy.”
How you can help
The ProKids Call for Community, our first-ever virtual fundraising event, is a great time to share your passion for our children and for our community.
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, there are two opportunities to join ProKids virtually. The 30-minute program puts the work of ProKids into context, including a reenactment of a case which closed in 2019. You can see a trailer of the film here:
This story provided by ProKids.