Commentary by Toby Stark
This may be the most difficult article I’ve ever written because I’m going to try to put something that is beyond words into words.
At this time of year, many of us focus on the things in our lives we are grateful for. At Chaucie’s Place, that is a year-round endeavor; we are just choosing this particular week to publicly express our gratitude.
There is a certain magic about Chaucie’s Place. It may be Chaucie’s spirit watching over us; it may be ‘the universe’ making sure we are able to continue protecting children – either in response to allegations of child sexual abuse or in preventing abuse; it may be all of these and none of these. I don’t know. But I do know that Chaucie’s Place is the recipient of community support that I’ve never seen before … nor do I think I ever will again.
When Chaucie’s Place needed this community the most, people stepped up in unimaginable ways. You have voiced your unwavering support for our prevention programs; you have attended our fundraisers in record numbers; you donated time and materials to ensure we had a new home when we needed to move somewhat unexpectedly; you clean our house and mow our lawn each month; you show up at our door unannounced with donations from paper clips to computers; and you pull out your checkbook and share whatever you are able.
The support can be overwhelming. There are many days we are rendered speechless – or moved to tears – by your generosity. Every day we see the evil in humanity, but you – you tip the scales. You remind us of the abundant good in humanity.
While it appears that I am thanking you for your compassionate heart and generous soul – for your support of Chaucie’s Place – I am actually thanking you for much, much more. I am thanking you for seeing something that is truly ugly and committing to beat it back. I am thanking you for having difficult conversations with your children. I am thanking you for – one person and one family at a time – slowly but steadily changing the culture of our society to make child protection as important as it should be.
Toby Stark is the executive director of Chaucie’s Place – a child advocacy organization that works to prevent child sexual abuse and youth suicide.