by Cesca Janece Waterfield
Its location atop Church Hill looking prudently over Richmond could symbolize its nurturing role for Central Virginia. When Richmond Police respond to an incident involving violence witnessed by a child, the second on the scene is ChildSavers, a mental health organization founded in 1924. The ChildSavers Trauma Response team works closely with police to assist children at the time of an incident, bringing with them a teddy bear, bubbles, and hope for healing assisted by 36 staff members, board-certified child psychiatrist, professional clinicians, and childhood development specialists.
But ChildSavers helps many more children than those involved in immediate trauma. Their comprehensive program offers outpatient mental health treatment and training services for children in need, their families, and childcare providers throughout the metro area and they’re licensed by the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation.
And in many ways, ChildSavers serves even those who will never enter its doors, supporting Richmond and Central Virginia.
• Witnessing violence as a child increases the chances of becoming a child abuser.
• Males who witness violence as children between their parents are more likely to abuse intimate partners in adulthood.
• The effects on children who witness family violence and those who are physically abused are strikingly similar.
It doesn’t take a sociologist to know that family violence creates a home where children live in unrelenting fear. Patients as young as two react with sleep disturbances, night terrors, intrusive memories and flashbacks, separation anxiety, aggressiveness and hyperactivity.
The program at ChildSavers centers on its Guidance Clinic, providing children’s mental health services, Child Development Services for those who are childcare providers and Trauma Response.
How can you help?
• Donate – Online or in person, donations are tax-deductible.
• Join or support the Ride on June 5.
ChildSavers, 200 N. 22nd St. Richmond 23223
Starke Starts a Club and Builds Community
ChildSavers, Central Virginia’s premier community-based mental health provider for children, is partnering with the Tuskegee Airmen Motorcycle Club of Virginia to sponsor the Fifth Annual Ride for ChildSavers on June 5. Open registration and public staging will be between the hours of 7 am and 9 am at Cloverleaf Mall, 7201 Midlothian Turnpike. More than 500 motorcyclists will depart from there at 9:30 am and ride through the city with a police escort, arriving at Chimborazo Park at 11 am at 32nd St. and Broad St. Motorcycle Clubs and individual riders are welcome to register and ride. The public is invited to view the exciting staging.
Mark Hierholzer, Exec. Director of ChildSavers says, “The ride envisioned and organized by the Tuskegee Airmen Motorcycle Club has been an invaluable part of what ChildSavers has been able to do.”
Credit the vision of one Chesterfield native, AJ Starke. Starke, a Chesterfield County Police Lieutenant, founded The Tuskegee Airmen Motorcycle Club of Virginia in May 2006 and not long after, made a cold call to ChildSavers with his idea for the Ride for Children.
“When people hear ‘Tuskegee Airman,’ they think about the pilots,” Starke says. “What we have learned through history is that was a time when people came together. There was the ground crew. There were the people who worked in the office. It was a time when segregation came to an end and people realized that when we come together, we can get more done for our community.”
Today the Club has 30 members whose common mission is to help maintain the legacy of the original Tuskegee Airmen, heroes from World War II, whose courage and resilience helped end the war and helped reshape racial attitudes. The second aim of the Club is to positively impact Richmond and beyond by nurturing families, promoting academic performance, building community awareness and participating in fundraising activities. In addition to helping raise the profile of ChildSavers in at-risk neighborhoods and beyond, they have worked to feed the homeless and established their own Prader-Willi Bowling Tournament. With Starke as their National President, the Club currently has six chapters in Georgia, Washington D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, and Boston.
The Club’s partnership with ChildSavers brings together residents for a common cause, and builds positive community and racial connections – some even far away. On vacation last year with his wife, Hierholzer was approached by an African American man from Georgia, who recognized and enthusiastically commented on his Tuskegee Airmen Ride for Children tee shirt. Hierholzer says, “This event alone has sparked connections I don’t think would exist if not for the work of [Tuskegee Airmen Motorcycle Club].
“The goal is simply community,” Starke says. “So often people see people riding motorcycles and they see the leather and the helmets but they don’t get to know the people. We are professional, we are Christian folks and we can come together and make a difference. We always hear about the negative things but we don’t often hear about what is happening to the children behind the scenes. ChildSavers is there doing the work.”
Tuskegee Airmen Motorcycle Club Ride for ChildSavers Route
7201 Midlothian Turnpike, the Cloverleaf Mall Lot – Departure 9:30 am
East on Midlothian Tnpk, Left on Hull Street Rd.
Right on Jefferson Davis Hwy, Left on Harwood St.
Hillside Housing Community – Arrive 9:55 am
Cross the Mayo Bridge
Gilpin Housing Community – Arrive 10:10 am
Whitcomb Housing Community – Arrive 10:17 am
Mosby Housing Community – Arrive 10:20 am
End at Chimborazo Park, 3300 E. Broad St. –
Arrive 10:30-10:45 am