It’s the small, simple things that count. And it takes all of us to make a difference.
~First lady of Texas, Cecilia Abbott
Whether it’s a lamp, new bedding, an area rug, curtain treatments, throw pillows, or painting the walls, these room makeovers are a simple yet powerful act of creating a positive and safe new environment for child victims.
You may already know the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) provides many invaluable services to assist and support child victims of abuse and neglect every day.
Their caring and professional staff provide a welcoming, child-friendly, and protected place for victims and their families to share experiences, receive medical assessments, engage with law enforcement, and, ideally, be restored through therapy and counseling. The Center’s mission is to break the cycle of abuse, one child at a time, by working to reduce the emotional trauma for children and their non-offending family members.
While clients receive services that always reflect best practices in the field, it is quite possible that a Texas grant program may be the most innovative and compassionate of them all.
Imagine living or going to sleep every night in a crime scene
Nearly every child victim of sexual abuse (90%) knows his or her attacker, which means a great deal of abuse happens in a familiar environment. Having to live in a place that has become a crime scene is a desperate fact of life, and one that might be easily overlooked in light of pressing clinical and judicial needs. While children do need and find healing in counseling, in many cases, they go back to the home or bedroom where the abuse occurred.
Challenges arise because the child’s personal space was violated by the perpetrator of their abuse, or furniture and belongings may have been removed as evidence in the criminal investigation. Being in this space again can trigger or renew the emotional response from the original trauma.
But, through unique donations and grants, volunteers are able to provide some children with a truly new start by fully remodeling their bedrooms or other rooms in the home. New colors, furniture, toys, and personalized decór help return a sense that their personal space is an authentically safe haven.
Based on a 2015 Women of Courage grant, My Safe Space: A Room Makeover Project provides funding for CACs statewide to transform spaces in which children impacted by trauma can have greater consistency in the sense that they are moving forward from a bad experience. Funding from these grants is available to all 71 CACs in Texas.
The program is implemented in a variety of ways across the state. The Williamson County CAC is proud to participate as well, and has expanded on the premise to provide support in any capacity that might help futher the healing process.
Kerrie Stannell, CEO, of the Williamson County Advocacy Center says the program is developing, and they are particularly sensitive to the need for the entire family to feel safe inside their own home. “The abuse happened to the child, but the trauma happened to the whole family. When we receive funds from the Women of Courage grant we use them accordingly to makeover a bedroom. However, with local partnerships and donations we can expand the help we are able to give. We can redo a parent’s bedroom, a bathroom, help with a few repairs or assist with siblings’ rooms, whatever it takes to reinstate the victim’s comfort and healing, and help the siblings and protective family members with safety and stability.”
HOPE, HEALING, AND JUSTICE
Tiffany says, while the program is still relatively new, the Center is grateful to receive funding from Women of Courage, which has inspired others in the community to donate. “We are fortunate to have the Round Rock Leadership Class and Renee Fox at Fox Realty partnering with us to help grow the program. It is our hope that more people in our community will see the benefits of striking up a corporate or business partnership for this program, so we can make changes in more homes. We are always happy to accept small donations from individuals or community groups as well, to enable us to help more children in need.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The WCCAC is ready to accept financial donations on their website at WilcoCAC.org, and you can arrange to donate household items in person. Tiffany says donors can ask to direct funds to the program in the Paypal memo field, but if the field proves elusive, you can email her directly to ensure your donation gets into the right account. ([email protected]) Blankets and toys, if not used for a room makeover, help make the interview and counseling rooms at the Center more comfortable as well.
She adds, “This wonderful program is part of the healing. New rooms and spaces allow children and families to feel safe inside their home again. Many suffer through nightmares or the simple fact that they do not want to go to their room again. Having a new space, one that is different than it was before, is a big step to putting the trauma behind them.”
When I helped to paint my room during the makeover, it was as if I were covering all of the bad things that have happened in that room.” ~ My Safe Space recipient