The Exchange Club fights to prevent child abuse
Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 14, 2015
I started this mission of saving one child early in 2013. I began talking to anyone and everyone that showed an interest in helping. One of the people that greatly encouraged me was Bonnie Hodge at Hancock Bank in Poplarville. She and I had worked together so I knew that she is a strong Christian with a heart to serve kids. She shared so much valuable information with me. One of the directions she led me to was The Exchange Club. She gave me a couple of names of people to reach out to and introduce myself. Like many other volunteers in service based organizations, I have met the most amazing people. One of those inspiring people is Karla Kendrick, the former Exchange Club president. She took time to give me more details about what we can all do to help prevent child abuse.
Karla is one of the members that chartered the Pearl River County Exchange Club in 2007. The Exchange Club is a national organization that started in 1911 in Detroit, Michigan by Charles A. Berkey.
He named the group The Exchange Club because the group wanted to exchange ideas and information about how to better serve their communities. Their programs of service include Americanism, youth programs, community service, and their national project is the prevention of child abuse.
The local group does so many things to support the community as a whole as well as serving local children. Every year they honor a local resident and business for displaying the American flag properly to promote Americanism.
On Valentine’s Day the group takes Valentines and flowers to a local senior home. They have also raised money for a local youth group to buy computer accessories and bus tires.
They also donated baby safety items to the Teen Pregnancy Center and donated to the local volunteer police department.
The Exchange Club funds all of these projects here in town through events like chili cook-offs and they are partnering with Kids Hub to conduct a motorcycle ride in April.
I asked Karla how any of this prevents child abuse. She explained that one of the most effective ways to make a difference is to talk about it. It is important to tell people what to look for and empower them to report any suspicious activity. She reinforced what I have been told by DHS and local law enforcement that reporting is not an accusation.
If you notice unexplainable changes in a child’s behavior or see bruises and injuries, reporting that incident is simply a voice for the child. It simply lets trained professionals know that there is something to be aware of and is not an act of blindly pointing the finger. Children need a voice. It is all of our responsibility to be that voice.
We would love to have you visit our meetings! We meet every Wednesday at 12:00 at Ryans in Picayune. Please come to a meeting if you are interested in joining, or just want more details about how you can help. We also have a website that might answer some questions. Visit us at www.nationalexchangeclub.org.
By Jenny Gates.