Recently a gifted writer named Dr. P. Jones posted on the blogsite momspresso.com an exquisitely worded, poetic essay expressing a joyful look at what life can be like after the pandemic of 2020. It begins “I can’t wait for a year’s time, when all of this is a distant memory.” She imagines “the rise in small business because the thinkers had a moment of stillness and creativity, and entrepreneurs were created.” This rings so true, especially here in Naples, where we celebrate and support new ideas and indomitable spirits.
The beautiful poem doesn’t mention that in a year’s time, peals of laughter will once again bounce off sparkling coastal waters,
pristine wilderness will again be ours to explore, that we’ll gather together again to renew friendships that have become even more precious than before, and that we’ll feel extraordinarily blessed to be able to enjoy once again the delicious creations by the great chefs we had almost – but not quite – taken for granted. And that’s so very true, especially here in this place we call Paradise.
What melts the heart most is the poet’s vision that in our memories “the streets were quiet but our homes were bursting with
love and warmth” and “our children [will] remember nothing but a time when mom and dad were at home playing and spending time together.”
For the luckiest of families, this too will be true. But for others there will be no memories of homes bursting with love and
warmth. Sadly, with schools closed and children at home with parents dealing with job security, health fears and financial loss, the intense stress is a perfect petri dish for child abuse. In addition to families already in crisis due to mental illness, alcohol or substance abuse, children with normally stable home conditions will be affected, across all socioeconomic lines.
April was National Child Abuse Prevention Month, which is the time for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collier County (CAC) to share with the community the many programs our Child Protection Team provides to improve the lives of abused children, and help their families get back on track. Because the blue and silver pinwheel is the symbol of hope for abused children, we observe the month with a spectacular pinwheel “garden” in the sand at the Naples Pier. Because that was not possible this spring, we’re thrilled to be working with Naples Botanical Garden to find an appropriate time to host a new kind of pinwheel garden later this year.
Meanwhile, as long as schools remain closed, children in crisis do not have the caring eyes and ears of our teachers and those who run after-school sports and activity programs, who are typically the first ones to report evidence of abuse. The people of Naples and all of Collier County have already proven the poet’s prediction that “even amongst the chaos, there was community.”
As Collier County’s only immediate-response facility serving young victims of physical or sexual abuse, we ask our community to help us now. Be the eyes and ears that our teachers cannot be. We encourage you to check in on children and families and offer your support. If you know of or suspect abuse, please call the Florida child abuse hotline, (800) 962-2873. It is completely anonymous.
Thank you, Naples, for supporting our efforts for almost 35 years. Our vision is to create a community where abuse is not tolerated, recognizing that every child has the right to a safe and happy childhood.
Article provided by Karen T. Bartlett with Jackie Stephens
Jackie Stephens is CEO of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collier County. To learn more about the CAC visit CACcollier.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.