KimA_06_150Most people start the New Year with lofty goals and high expectations, and the ChildSafe team is no different. Our number one goal? To have the single greatest impact our mission can have on the community we serve: to stop the cycle of child abuse and neglect. Strides by our organization in fiscal year 2016–2017 were big: we served 3,451 children and their non-offending family members and reached over 14,000 individuals through our education and outreach programs. We increased the numbers served in every one of the services we provided this past fiscal year. And for all of us at ChildSafe, this is a good thing. Statistics consistently show that only 1 out of 10 children who are sexually abused will ever tell anyone. The more aware our community is, the more child abuse reports rise, and the more children feel empowered to speak means the more children ChildSafe will serve. Only then will we begin to make an impact on the staggering statistic of 1 out of 10 children.

Part of our outreach is engaging the community in conversations about child abuse. ChildSafe created its Cardboard Kids® campaign, sponsored by Valero Energy Foundation, to engage the community about the prevalence of child abuse. More than 83,000 Cardboard Kids were decorated and shared on April 6th, the community-wide reveal day last year; and, our target for 2018 is 100,000! This campaign has struck a chord—it generates a dialogue and confirms how widespread child sexual and physical abuse are in Bexar County. We hear stories from survivors everywhere the Cardboard Kids® campaign takes us.

Three years ago, we embarked on a bold new journey. With our Multi-disciplinary Partners (Child Protective Services, SAPD, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney, and Bexar County Juvenile Probation) and our design and construction team (Overland Partners and Guido Construction), we developed a blueprint to construct a state-of-the-art campus. On January 3, 2018, we began construction on our new 65,000 square foot facility located on 36 wooded acres on the Eastside adjacent to the Salado Creek linear park and Martin Luther King Park. Our new facility will be home to 30 Child Protective Services staff members, 66 mobile Child Protective Services workers, 21 Law Enforcement Officers, 2 Bexar County Assistant District Attorneys, 14 Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department Officers and staff, and 102 ChildSafe staff.

Our new building incorporates nature and its healing powers into every part of our building and our thoughtfully designed outdoor areas inspire and provide space for healing and reflection. In working with the incredible Overland Partners team on every detail and aspect of the building, we designed a building that will be safe, nurturing, and healing, not only for the children and families we serve, but also for our partners and our staff co-locating in our building who do the very difficult job Texas Milkweed Lantana of providing safety and care for these children, their families, and our community every day. We also designed our building with an education center as well as indoor and outdoor spaces that can be shared with our new Eastside community who has welcomed us with open arms. Our new campus allows ChildSafe to give the very best care to children who have been abused and neglected. It will allow us to increase awareness and community outreach and build a national model for how a community can come together to achieve something extraordinary for those in need.

In September 2017, ChildSafe deeded 21 acres of the Salado Creek Campus that reside in a floodplain to the City of San Antonio to be used to expand the city’s Linear Creekway Parks Development Program. And on October 14, 2017, ChildSafe broke ground on the remaining 15 acres for our new campus. The ceremonial groundbreaking was a wonderful community event attended by our multi-disciplinary partners, community leaders, neighbors, board members, staff, volunteers, and donors. Mr. Harvey E. Najim, who donated $5 million to the project and for whom the new building is named, shared his reason for giving. “I make this gift to ensure that our most valuable asset— our children—are protected and safe,” Najim said. “My hope is that their tears will turn to cheers and their fears to hope,” he said at the groundbreaking.

Mr. Najim’s $5 million gift demonstrates his ongoing pledge to help children in our community. Just as meaningful as his monetary gift has been his leadership, guidance, friendship, and confidence in ChildSafe. With their gifts, all our committed capital donors have demonstrated their commitment to the children of our community and their confidence in ChildSafe. We can’t thank them enough.

It is evident with this type of support from individuals, foundations, corporations, and the City that child abuse is an issue resonating with everyone, and for good reason. The trauma inflicted on abused children has generational consequences, not only for them, but for our entire society. We continue to reach out to prospective donors and supporters and ask the community at large to participate in a grassroots fundraising campaign as we move closer to June 2019 when our construction will be completed. Our goal is to raise $40 million, $36 million to build a state-of-the-art, best practices facility and $4 million for an operational and maintenance fund. Please join us in our crusade against child abuse.

No one is more deserving than the children of San Antonio.

Kim Abernethy, President/CEO

For more information and frequent updates about the project, please visit our website and click on “Build With Us,” or contact KimA@ChildSafe-SA.org or 210.675.9000.