A Farewell With Gratitude
I guess there is no nice way to say this, so I will simply start with the facts. After 23 years, this amazing adventure we call the International Child Advocacy Network will be coming to a close. We have always lived by the skin of our financial teeth so to speak, but this past year has made it very clear that this dream has run its course and to prolong this decision would not be fair to anyone.
This is the very definition of a bitter-sweet moment for me. Painfully bitter because a dream I have fought tooth and nail to keep alive will end. Sweet because of all the people’s lives that we were able to affect in a positive way. Sweet because of all the wonderful people who have given their time and their passion to help us in our mission to help break the silence and cycle of abuse. If I simply dwell in the now, my heart aches. But when I look back at all that we have accomplished, I am so overwhelmed with the difference we have made.
This dream was born from tragedy. Several years ago, I read about a five-year-old girl named Elisa Izquierdo. She was brutally abused and murdered by her mother. Her story drew attention from all over the globe because so many in our profession as well as the legal, law enforcement and social services had failed her. She is the reason I started this organization. Someone needed to stand up for all the children like Elisa and say "ENOUGH!"
There have been so many amazing and wonderful stories of triumph. I remember a young woman who was being brutalized by her father and her father’s friends. Through our support, she was able to get away from him and eventually became a social worker who worked with abused kids. There are balloons on the entrance of our chat room in honor of her escape. She was one of only two people who came into our chat room the first month of our operation.
I remember a 14-year-old male group member finally, through our support, telling a teacher about what his father had been doing to him and being removed from his home. He later went on to go to college. Or a young woman, overwhelmed with depression from what had happened to her, coming alive again and beginning to believe in herself. She would go on to law school and now is a child advocate in her state court system. I was there when a young woman who had been abused by a family member was finally able to build up her courage and take the steps to get her abuser convicted for what he had done to her and other family members.
And, recently I was there when a young man finally was able to share his story with one of our facilitators after many months of extreme cautiousness, and when he was done describing events that no child should ever have to endure, he said to the facilitator, “Does that make me bad?” The facilitator said, “No, not at all, it makes you courageous and amazing that you took the chance to tell me what happened. I’m very proud of you.”
If this remarkable journey had only affected one person dealing with abuse, it still would have been worth it. Instead, YesICAN was able to make a difference in the lives of thousands upon thousands of survivors of abuse. I simply do not have the words to express what this organization has meant to me.
I am so proud of these past 23 years, I am so thankful to my children and my family who put up with me and supported me in so many ways, by helping with the computer, writing many of our press releases and flyers, helping with fundraisers and getting the word about YesICAN. I could have not done this work without them.
And now, to all of you who have helped YesICAN through your friendship, support, energy, enthusiasm, and joy, I will never be able to thank you enough. This journey would not have happened without all of you. To all my Board Members, past and present, who have worked so hard to keep YesICAN going throughout these years, there are no words to express how incredibly proud I am to have had the opportunity to work along the side of you to make this organizations what it has been. To all of those who gave their time, energy and funds to help keep our programs going so that YesICAN could be there for those who were affected by abuse through child abuse and domestic violence I want to say thank you and God bless you all for your generosity, gifts and passion.
Finally, to all my facilitators and moderators and bloggers who volunteered their precious time to provide the services to our groups and our community so that we could provide a place of healing to the survivors who visited our website, my gratitude for your care and professionalism. It is an honor to have been a part of your lives and a pleasure to call you my friends.