By: Jes Averhart, Prevent Child Abuse NC Immediate Past Board Chair
Date Posted: September 27, 2019

In many ways fate conspires with action to lead you into work that is both unexpected and meaningful. I found myself at this intersection in 2013 when I was invited to serve on the board of Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC).

As the daughter of a loving and nurturing single mom and the mother of a teenage son (who is adored), the notion of strong, informed parenting struck me as a ‘no brainer’; and before my work with PCANC, I would have considered myself a champion of parenting and fiercely protective of kids.

If I’m to be honest however, I was woefully uninformed and critical of parents who ‘didn’t have it together.’ The truth was, I hadn’t considered the gaps and the inherent obstacles and barriers that exist, preventing many families from flourishing into safe and healthy units. Oh, how times have changed! In my first year of this work, I decided to own my blind spots, listen, learn and ask questions. I learned from our diverse board and expert staff that this work is not just a notion…but the place where real change occurs.

PCANC puts proven supports in place for real North Carolina families to grow, make better choices and become more connected – where children are more likely to grow up healthier and ready to reach their fullest potential. YES!! Now that’s good work!

That is my story and my evolution. What is yours?

For such a time as this…we hear this phrasing a lot. The context, which is a Biblical reference to the Book of Esther, is actually a challenge or rebuke, not an inspiring pep talk. Queen Esther was being reminded that she was set apart to do God’s work, not to get caught up in her title and position as queen. The same can be said for each of us today, as members of a broader community. It’s not enough to say you’re a concerned citizen and pontificate over dinner about the ‘long way we have to go’ to turn things around. I believe we have been set apart for a greater purpose: to meaningfully engage with our children and their families, to keep a watchful eye on our community and speak up around issues of abuse and neglect.

To help amplify this calling, PCANC is rolling out a statewide social norm campaign called “Connections Matter,” a game changer for North Carolina. This campaign will demystify and remove the stigma around parental supports and community involvement, because we KNOW that connections DO matter.

As part of this campaign, you will learn to increase the Five Protective Factors in your family and community – and become equipped, in partnership with PCANC, to help move North Carolina forward. Take just a second to consider how we are all connected through varying touch points, be it schools, parks and recreation, the YMCA, pediatricians, fire and law enforcement, places of worship, and even your local grocery store. No longer can we be ‘eyes wide shut’ on the topic of our children. They need us to see them and their families need our support and encouragement in such a time as this.

I encourage you to review our latest annual report and really consider the work that is taking place at Prevent Child Abuse NC. I think you’ll find it inspired, thoughtful and relevant. As you walk alongside this work, keep an eye out for policy implications, engage with us during Child Abuse Prevention Month (CAPM) in April by planting a Pinwheel Garden and consider a gift to further the mission. It all matters at the end of the day and we’ll all be able to celebrate the wins together!

On behalf of our children and families across the state, let’s do this…TOGETHER!

In deep gratitude,
Jes Averhart
Immediate Past Chair, Board of Directors
Prevent Child Abuse NC