To protect children from abuse, they took their guidelines from the ASPCA. And so, the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children became the world’s first child protection agency. “One hundred thirty-eight years later,” President of the Board of Directors David Stack said, “NYSPCC still help the most vulnerable children in New York. We are relatively small, but we create programs that are adopted by cities and states throughout the country.”
Their fall benefit at the swank Metropolitan Club featured an appropriately swank. Joan Rivers came for cocktails. “I’m here with my good friends Deborah (Norville, a co-chair of the evening) and Karl Wellner she told us. “Can’t stay long, I’ve got to get to work!” She was work-shopping her new material at 7:30 to benefit Gods Love We Deliver. Two benefits in one night. She missed a great meal designed by the original celebrity chef, Jonathan Waxman, but not the wine tasting tables.
The Dinner Co-Chairs were Lauren B. Cramer, Amanda and Neil Friedman, Joan Granlund, Penny Grant, M.D., Deborah Norville and Karl G. Wellner, and M. David and Mary Alice Sherrill. The Honorary Dinner Chairs were Anne and Bob Arns. We spied Jean Shafiroff, Ike Ude, Kathleen Giordano, Joy Marks, Robin Cofer, Wilbur and Hillary Ross, singer/songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins (singer/songwriter), Dawne Marie Grannum, Dini von Mueffling and Commissioner Ronald E. Richter.
Co-Chair Dr. Penny Grant recently left a 25 year practice as a Child Abuse Pediatrician. “It was always hard for me to see a mom whose daughter was sexually abused tell me, ‘I never got counseling. I thought it would just go away.’ But abuse creates scars. Those who are sexually abused don’t have a good sense of self. They may turn to alcohol or drugs, don’t recognize their own strengths and can give their children a lowered sense of self esteem, making them at risk for becoming victims. It’s all unconscious: they repeat the patterns because they haven’t been given the tools to change them. So the cycle of violence and trauma is perpetuated.”
Stopping that cycle is the goal of a comprehensive campaign to prevent child sexual abuse that should reach 7,000 children, and the ongoing prevention and healing programs already in place. “These children come to us battered, broken, confused, guilty and sad,” Executive Director President Dr. Mary L Pulido told the room. “With our amazing clinical team, we see results that just take your breath away how these children change under our care.” The letter she read written by a nine year old under their care who had been abused by a family member was simple yet wise, a clear example of a psyche saved. Titled, “What I Learned,” it could serve as a template for dealing with many situations:
“What I learned is that Ryan can be nice but what he did was wrong. I learned that it was Ryan’s fault. I used to think it was kinda both of our faults because I didn’t tell sooner or talk to someone. I also blamed myself for Ryan being sent away. But now, I know that it was his fault for doing it because he was bigger and stronger and threatened me not to tell people. So how do I feel now? I feel good because he apologized and I am moving on. It will still be in my memory. But he was sorry for what he did. And I forgive him and I will be okay.”