“You mean people made this place just for kids like me?” asked one 12-year-old boy in an amazed voice after proclaiming CALICO’s office “hecka nice.” He went on to marvel at the comfortable furniture in the interview room and flat screen TV and toys in the waiting area and wondered where they came from. A CALICO staff member told him many different people and groups make donations to support CALICO’s work. That day, this boy made an important discovery – he learned that people he did not even know cared about him and other children like him; he saw then, despite what had happened to him, that other people knew he mattered. On a different day, a girl walked into CALICO’s interview room where she would soon talk about what her uncle had done to her and started inexplicably giggling. When asked what was funny she said, “I was so scared I was going to go to the police station and they were going to shine bright lights on me like they do on TV. This isn’t bad at all.”
The look of delight in the boy’s eyes and the sense of relief on the girl’s face are the types of intangible gifts that community supporters give children and families at CALICO every day. From the outside, CALICO’s main office is a non-descript building set back from the street – it’s easy to drive by dozens of times and fail to notice it’s there. The satellite office in Oakland is part of a secure, multi-story building that used to serve as a public health site. Unless someone has an appointment to visit, the general public rarely comes through CALICO’s doors. In spite of CALICO’s unobtrusive presence, the community support it receives is outsized. Every week new gifts arrive, ranging from hand-sewn quilts to restaurant gift cards, contractor services, and online financial donations. Through these gifts, the community becomes another invaluable member of CALICO’s multi-disciplinary team, with an impact as meaningful to families as the work done by the detectives, child welfare workers, pediatricians and others who respond directly to the abuse.
Community supporters help CALICO and children in other seemingly small but crucial ways through simple things they say and do. Every time a supporter volunteers at a CALICO fundraiser like the One Child at a Time picnic, leaves the event and tells a friend or family member about CALICO’s work, and engages with CALICO on social media pages or shares and comments on its posts and picnic photos, they publicly signal that they care about children and are standing up for the right of children to be safe, healthy and heard. For most, these actions are simple, almost effortless in some cases, yet the results can be unexpected and profound. Please join hundreds of community supporters on September 19th for a beautiful day in the park and to stand up for children and your belief that no child should suffer from abuse.