Board President’s Farewell

By:  Mimi Wilson – President, WVCAN Board of Directors

My time is almost up.  For the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of serving as Board President (but never a “bored” president😊) of WVCAN. And as my tenure draws to a close, I feel the future is already in place. Before long, every child victim in West Virginia will have access to the healing services they need and another chance at childhood, thanks to the on-going efforts of many allied professionals and dedicated West Virginians.    

In my years as a volunteer and more recently, my responsibilities as someone in a leadership position, I have been privileged to work alongside friends and mentors on the Board of Directors. Together, we have done our best and it has been an honor. Please join me in welcoming WVCAN’s new Board President John Artimez, an attorney and a passionate advocate for our children.

As president, I was invited to visit Centers from McDowell to Monongalia County to Harrison County; from Beckley to Paden City, where I met community volunteers so dedicated to child victims of abuse it brought tears to my eyes. I’ve worked with WVCAN staff – whose numbers I can count on one hand with two fingers to spare. These good people are living proof that “humankind” can be both. They are the individuals C.S. Lewis was referring to when he said: “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul.”

WVCAN changes the world one child at a time and is helping to transform the future that awaits them. It’s been said statistics are the grammar of science. As a former English teacher, I like that analogy. Stats, like grammar, help explain h­­­­­ow all the parts fit together. They measure success and where improvements can be made. They help us make sense of our world and motivate us to act in defense of others. If we parse WVCAN stats – such as the organization’s rapid growth from 2 to 20 Child Advocacy Centers in less than a decade or the more than 3,500 children across West Virginia served by CACs last year – data show the collaborative, multidisciplinary CAC model works best.  But data are the end of a story that begins with the courage of one child in pain.

We all have our reasons for why we are WVCAN volunteers but no good explanation for how someone can hurt a child to begin with. Maybe the most important thing I’ve learned from WVCAN and the work our CACs do every day is the why doesn’t matter. As both “human” and “kind”, our mandate is to help the most vulnerable, not understand why power was abused or trust, violated. Meanderings like that send us down a rabbit hole of circular arguments but don’t stop the hurt. Worse still, if everything can be justified, “empathy” becomes apathy i.e., an excuse for doing nothing.

True empathy teaches us the only thing we need to know: Children’s stories don’t have happy “endings”. Their stories unfold, then blend with ours to become the fabric of a society we create for ourselves made more durable by each audacious act of kindness, outrage, and resolve.

In closing, I’d like to quote Winnie the Pooh: “How lucky I am to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Keep up the great work, WVCAN!


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