SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ – Ginnie’s House Children’s Advocacy Center of Newton, NJ has won the 2015 NJ State Governor’s Jefferson Award for Public Service in the category of “Volunteer Program/Group.” Honorees for this award represent outstanding acts of public service without the expectation of recognition or compensation. The award ceremony and reception will take place Monday, June 8th at the Newark Museum.
When child abuse is suspected, reported or disclosed, Ginnie’s House provides a safe place to address the healing and safety of the child, family and community, as found to be appropriate. This is accomplished through providing a place for the coordinated efforts of individuals and agencies, including: child protection, law enforcement/prosecution, healthcare and mental health professionals.
Volunteers at Ginnie’s House have, since 1999, been strengthening the Sussex County community through significant efforts at raising awareness of child abuse, and resources to support services to children. They have successfully learned to communicate with the public regarding the difficult topics of child abuse, such as symptoms and red flags and how to respond through appropriate and timely reporting. The work includes grass roots presentations at the county’s township days, the New Jersey State Fair and at expos and other public events. Efforts also include fundraising on behalf of the organization to support direct services to child victims and their non-offending caregivers.
Volunteers at Ginnie’s House are willing to serve in both the “exciting” tasks, such as working with the children or organizing a zumbathon fundraiser as well as the “mundane” tasks that will help the organization as a whole. Mary Harrington is an example of an outstanding and selfless volunteer at Ginnie’s House and she will represent the volunteers at the award ceremony Monday. She is currently retired and watches her two year old granddaughter, Vivian, for part of the week and volunteers weekly at Ginnie’s House as well. Mary recalls first taking a tour of Ginnie’s House ten years ago and finding “you can’t not love it.” At that time she immediately signed up to be a volunteer. As Mary put it, “If someone hasn’t been at Ginnie’s House, it’s like going to Grandma’s house. It’s warm. . . and such a wonderful place to give the children a chance to relax and be interviewed and taken care of without the sterile environment.” Mary’s volunteerism started with going to the State Fair and manning the Ginnie’s House table. She has also wrapped presents for the children, stuffed envelopes and helped with the ad books for Ginnie’s House’s dinner dance. Every other week, Mary lovingly cleans the children’s counseling room at Ginnie’s house, organizing the toys and making the environment sterile. As Mary stated, “It’s a great organization! I’m not a counselor and these are some ways that I know I am also helping the children.”
Volunteers have reported that they are motivated to join Ginnie’s House for many reasons. Primarily, they want to “give back” some of the bounty they feel they themselves have received. Some join because in their line of work they have had a contact with a child or children who have been abused. Others volunteer fill the hours of retirement or are motivated to try to save a child from the abuse they themselves suffered. All volunteers are screened to ensure any past history has been addressed before representing the agency. To become a Ginnie’s House volunteer, call (973)579-0770.
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