On the morning of April 13, 2018, a most unusual spring garden will burst into bloom on the beach at the Naples Pier. More than 1,500 sparkling blue and silver pinwheels will be “planted” in the sand; each one representing an abused or neglected child currently being served by the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collier County.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and pinwheels are the symbol of hope for organizations serving abused children. While pinwheel gardens are springing up all over the U.S this month, the Naples pinwheel garden is the only one in America that’s known to be planted on a beach.
STUNNING PHOTO OP
Surprised beach walkers and families playing at the beach love posing in the center of the garden, surrounded by a sparkling sea of pinwheels blowing in the breeze, with the iconic pier in the background. Mayor Bill Barnett and other city and county dignitaries, along with NBC-2 anchor Peter Busch, will be on hand on April 13 to help the agency’s CEO, Jackie Stephens, her staff and the Child Protection Team celebrate another year of lives saved and abuse halted.
SURPRISINGLY, ASPCA CAME FIRST
It shocks many people to learn that America’s first organization to recognize, prevent and punish the abuse of animals was founded nine years before the first organization to recognize, prevent and punish child abuse.
A severely abused little girl named Mary Ellen Wilson McCormack in New York was the inspiration for that organization.
In 1873, when neighbors reported the situation to the City of Manhattan’s Department of Public Charities and Correction, the horrified caseworker learned that there were no laws to protect abused children. She turned to the most logical resource, Henry Bergh, founder of the American Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and in 1875, with Bergh’s counsel, the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
(NYSPCC) was born. That organization is still responding to the complex needs of abused and neglected children today.
Mary Ellen’s story ended happily. Under the protective wings of her caseworker and the brand new NYSPCC, she was removed to safety and cared for, and eventually married and became the mother of well adjusted children of her own. Her story is told in the book, “Out of the Darkness: The Story of Mary Ellen Wilson” by Eric Shelman and Stephen Lazoritz.
Though a century younger, The Children’s Advocacy Center of Collier County has been serving the needs of abused and neglected children here for the past 32 years. The top ranked 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization
provides forensic exams and interviews, counseling, legal advocacy and other support for more than 2,500 children every year. For privacy and legal reasons, these children’s names and personal stories can’t be told, but a haunting display to be featured at the pinwheel garden is titled, “It happens more than you think.”
To learn more, become a supporter or volunteer, call 239.263.8383 or visit www.caccollier.org. Or meet the CAC at the Pinwheel Garden.
The leading sponsors for the third annual Pinwheels at the Pier as well as the two major CAC fundraisers, Beach Ball 2018,
Jurassic Beach and Naples City Live Music Festival are NCH Healthcare System, the MacDonald family (Robert, Mariann and
Megan),; Sunmasters; Julie Talbott and Michael Katz.