Marketing Director Samantha Roth and President and CEO Mindy Prusa stand in the parlor at Whaley Children’s Center, underneath a photo of Donald Whaley, the son of Robert Whaley, who passed away at the age of 10 and inspired his father to found Whaley Children’s Center.FLINT — The walls of the Whaley Children’s Center are painted in bright primary colors, there are small shoes and clothes and cheerful bedding. There are even video games and toys, all efforts made by caring individuals to cover the grief of abuse and neglect. But visitors can still feel it, and they know it’s there, but there is also hope.
That feeling of hope is exactly what Whaley Children’s Center strives to provide. Their website says the organization is “a source of hope, care, and treatment to Michigan’s abused, neglected, and at-risk children and families.” The dedicated staff and volunteers, who are committed to treating all children and families with fairness, dignity and respect, have created an environment that fosters positive change and growth for the children inside.
The family game room in the Mott Residence has undergone a complete transformation. It hosts bright colored walls, new carpet, a library and ample play equipment providing a happy and fun space for our children to heal and grow. Photos by Alex PetrieRobert H. Whaley, successful businessman and generous philanthropist in Flint, founded Whaley Children’s Center more than 90 years ago. After the death of his son, Donald, who passed away from diphtheria at the age of 10, Robert and his wife, Mary, sorted through the young boy’s belongings and found a jar of coins. They discovered that Donald had been saving his money to donate to a group of children living in an orphanage in Detroit.
Robert and Mary Whaley made it their life’s mission to carry out their son’s wish to improve the lives of children in need, and their quest is continued every day by the men and women who work and volunteer at the center. The staff is wholly devoted to the children that come through Whaley Children’s Center. The center serves approximately 90 children per year.
“We get children from all over the state of Michigan, not just Genesee County,” said Marketing Director Samantha Roth. “We get kids from Up North, the east side of the state, west side, kids from Southern Michigan, everywhere. Child abuse is not a regional problem. It’s everywhere. The good neighborhoods, bad neighborhoods.”
Whaley’s professional therapists and counselors work one-on-one with the children. Their various therapies and programs include trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy; structured sensory interventions for traumatized children, adolescents and parents; the sanctuary S.E.L.F. (safety, emotions, loss and future) curriculum; dialectical behavioral therapy; play therapy; a wellness program; mentoring and Whaley’s Circle of Courage.
The Circle of Courage is a model of positive youth development based on the universal principle that, in order to be emotionally healthy, all children need a sense of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. The programs are specifically designed to help them overcome their past and reclaim their future.
“After being with us for about 18 months, we try to find a foster home for them, we try to give them permanency,” said Roth. “We want them to have a place to call home, a set of parents. We want to give that experience that every child deserves. That love and belonging that you can only get from living in a home with people that love and care about you.”
To finance their efforts, Whaley Children’s Center relies on state funding and the generous donations and volunteerism efforts they receive from their community and beyond. On their website, the center and its staff “welcome all types of talent to our organization and need help from everyone—meticulous organizers, board game gurus, friendly and smiling faces, brawn and brains! Individuals, as well as corporate, religious, and educational groups are more than welcome to come in and volunteer.”
The benefits of volunteering are many including resume-building through gaining new skills and experience as well as networking with like-minded individuals. But the biggest reward is that of enriching the children with knowledge and skills while giving them the tools that will empower them to have a brighter, more successful future.
“About 75 percent of our funding comes from State of Michigan, and the remaining 25 percent comes from the people in our community,” said Roth. “Without the support of our community, none of this would be possible. I always say that 75 percent keeps the lights on and keeps food in their bellies.”
For more information about Whaley Children’s Center and to find out how to get involved or donate, visit their website atwww.whaleychildren.org or call 810-234-3603.
You can also donate by using the envelope found in today’s View Newspaper.
Editor’s note: View Newspaper Group is proud to partner with Whaley Children’s Center in their annual fundraising drive by placing their donation envelope in our papers today. The following article provides information about the organization and how even small donations can make a big difference. Please consider donating to this deserving cause.