#SupporterSpotlight w. Little Guys Movers

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and we are highlighting community supporters that are all about our mission, our programs and our kids. Little Guys Movers and Jake Ladue do just that.

Whether it is helping with our Dream Big Charity Gala, helping a family move in a time of need, or putting office furniture together, Little Guys are always there. We were proud to honor them with the Children’s Safety Center’s Partner + Prevention award at this years Partners + Prevention luncheon.

Little Guys Movers started in Denton, Texas in 1994, with the mindset of treating people with respect and in a professional manner, during a very stressful time of their lives. Relocating is in the top five major life events that happen to a person/family, and often that transition is somewhat stressful. Our goal is to make that process as pleasant as possible.

One thing I deeply appreciate about the culture of Little Guys, is that they are always there to lend a helping hand for a great cause. I came to Little Guys November of 2011; I had just gotten out of school and was geared to teach at a local elementary school. Marcus Watson (the owner) gave me a call to meet me for an interview. During that time in my life, I was highly involved in running my nonprofit that helps children, and was somewhat hesitant on taking on a role at the company. Little Guys worked around my teaching schedule and never once asked me to step away. Little Guys also gave me the opportunity to meet other great people in the community that had the same mindset of helping others. As a Northwest Arkansas native, my community is extremely important to me. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to help – not only in our community, but also across the nation. All of our stores are highly involved in helping those in need: From natural disasters, to being active donation drop-off points, to transporting food, water, and other basic necessities, no matter the distance.

How did you become involved with the Children’s Safety Center? I became involved with the Children’s Safety Center through the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. I was asked to help out with a few events and have continued to jump at every opportunity.

Why do you continue to stay involved? Having a less than ideal childhood myself, helping children is something that I’m very passionate about.

What is your favorite thing about the Children’s Safety Center? That’s a very deep question for me. I know the importance (on a personal level) of the service that they provide to children and their families during their time of need. It’s important that these children have a safe place and are surrounded by people that they are comfortable with to talk to.

Why is it important to spread the mission of the Children’s Safety Center to the community? Simply put, it needs to be a household name. I know that sounds a little ambitious or bold, but necessary. As a child, I fell through the cracks in the system; I didn’t have the opportunity or even know that such an option existed. If we can put the Children’s Safety Center in the spotlight, maybe we can save a  few more like myself, that needed their service and guidance in a time of need. It’s important to know that they are not alone and there are people who not only care, but truly want to help.

Fun Fact that people may not know about you and/or Little Guys? I get the most pleasure out of our young guys and gals that work with us. I know I won’t have them for long, but while I do, it brings me so much joy getting them involved in the community, teaching them the meaning of a hard day’s work, and the benefits that come along with it. We are a foundation for many future leaders in our community and other communities. Moving is just what we do in order to have the opportunity to hang out with each other – once a Little Guy always a Little Guy!

Child Abuse Myths and The Truth

Myth: It’s only abuse if it’s violent

Truth: Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Child neglect, sexual and emotional abuse can inflict just as much damage, and since they’re not always as obvious, others are less likely to intervene.

Types of abuse the Children’s Safety Center saw in 2018

Myth: Abuse doesn’t happen in “good” families

Truth: Abuse and neglect doesn’t only happen in poor families or bad neighborhoods. These behaviors cross all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families who seem to have it all from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed doors.

Myth: Most child abusers are strangers

Truth: While abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are family members or others close to the family.

The abuser is almost always someone the child knows and trusts

Myth: Abused children always grow up to be abusers

Truth: It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. On the other hand, many adult survivors of child abuse have a strong motivation to protect their children against what they went through and become excellent parents. This is why mental health therapy is so important. The Children’s Safety Center offers trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy, child parent psychotherapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing along with various types of art therapy.

Myth: Child abuse doesn’t happen here

Truth: The Children’s Safety Center saw a total of 838 children in 2018. That is a 24% increase from 2017. Most were child sexual abuse cases.

Child abuse across Washington County in 2018

For more information, download our 2018 annual impact report

#SupporterSaturday w. Life Family Chiropractic

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and we are highlighting community supporters that are all about our mission, our programs and our kids. Life Family Chiropractic and Dr. Chris Akey does just that. And has been for 16 years!

A little background and history of you and Life Family Chiropractic:

I  wanted to be a Chiropractor because I was a chiropractic patient as a kid and it helped me from severe asthma, allergies and curvature of the spine. I knew I wanted to focus on helping kids and families since I was helped so much as a child.  Life Family Chiropractic was established in 2002  and I have been in practice for 20 years this year.

How did you become involved with the Children’s Safety Center?

Every child that receives services at the Children’s Safety Center gets to pick out a stuffed animal to take home before they leave. I do a Teddy Bear drive every February and was trying to find a place that would benefit kids and also be a non-profit. Once I read what the Children’s Safety Center was about, I knew they were the place to donate to.

Why do you continue to stay involved?

I continue to stay involved because of the impact that Children’s Safety Center has on our community and the great need for their services. We have been donating the stuffed animals for 16 years and I have donated financially for years as well. I will continue both for years to come.

What is your favorite thing about the Children’s Safety Center?

Their highly committed staff. They are constantly looking for ways to improve and expand their services for the kids in our community. Have you seen a Children’s Safety Center Facebook post? Check one out and you will see for yourself.

Why is it important to spread the mission of the Children’s Safety Center to our community?

It is so unfortunate that there has to be a need but it is because of this need that the mission of Children’s Safety Center has to continue on. The Children’s Safety Center has made a positive impact from their public education and services that are provided to the kids in our community.

Fun Fact that people may not know about you?

My wife and I have 8 kids

#SpotlightSunday w. Michael McHenry

The Ordinary Hero Award was developed by the Children’s Safety Center in 2008, as a way for the members of the Washington County Multi-Disciplinary Team to honor one of their own. The MDT is comprised of Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Investigators, local law enforcement, the Washington County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, DHS’s Division of Children & Family Services, and Children’s Safety Center staff.

This past March at our 4th annual Partners + Prevention luncheon we presented the Ordinary Hero Award to Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Investigator, Michael McHenry.

Michael is a person who is determined. He has a “firmness of purpose and a resolve to achieve a goal, no matter the obstacles.”

A co-worker of Michael’s shared the following: “Though I haven’t been here long, I have noticed Michael’s dedication to being at every MDT meeting.  He gives detailed, concise information about the cases he is working.  He looks at every angle when investigating cases and is very thorough.  He works well with all agencies.  He genuinely cares and takes to heart the abuse our victims go through.” 

Another MDT member noted, “As a Therapist at the Children’s Safety Center I don’t spend as much time with Michael as some people do but from my experience working with him and seeing him in MDT meetings, Michael truly puts his entire heart into his cases. He invests himself in each and every case to make sure that the children we work with are taken care of and protected. Michael is extraordinary at his job and the children he works with are lucky to have him on their side.”

A colleague told Children’s Safety Center development director, “Michael is so passionate about his job! He puts 110% into each case he works and truly cares for the children involved in these cases. He understands the need and importance of a multidisciplinary team when it comes to his role. He sees the bigger picture for these children and wants all the agencies involved to work together to do their part to serve the victims and their families. I admire the hard work he puts in and the extra mile that he goes each and every day! THANK YOU MICHAEL for continuing to fight for children who don’t have a voice!”

Another description of Michael is, “He goes above and beyond for EVERY case he works. He is not ‘just’ an investigator, but also an advocate for child abuse victims and their non-offender caregivers. It does not go unnoticed by his fellow MDT members, nor the caregivers of the children he advocates for! His passion shines bright and radiates onto others around him. He deserves the Ordinary Hero Award for putting up an extraordinary fight against child abuse!”

Here is Michael in his own words:

How does it feel being chosen as the Children’s Safety Center’s 2019 Ordinary Hero?

I was surprised and deeply honored to accept this year’s award for Ordinary Hero.  I feel that everyone on the MDT team shares the same passion and drive to do hard work in this field.  CACD’s involvement on each case helps everyone on the team, especially DHS, local law enforcement, the prosecutor’s office, and our community.    

A little background and history of you and your job with Arkansas State Police is:

A little background about me is that I joined the ranks of ASP/CACD in January 2018. My duties include being a forensic interviewer for child abuse victims and helping local law enforcement agencies investigate these crimes.  I thoroughly enjoy this field because it is meaningful and rewarding to see cases acted upon very swiftly by multiple agencies, but it is even more amazing to see how information sharing and cooperation between various agencies leads to successful results in every single case.

How do Arkansas State Police and the Children’s Safety Center work together and why is it important?

Successful partnerships between various agencies are always the glue that keeps people focused on the finish line for every case.  Not only does the CSC provide an incredibly trusted resource for victims of child abuse but they also continue to support the family for years.  The CSC was built for a reason, which is to provide a single, safe, neutral entity that children can go to in order for the child to feel safe and supported, but also help the family start to recover and heal from the most traumatic experiences they’ve ever lived through.  Building bridges with every agency and organization in this field is essential to successful results.

What is your favorite thing about the Children’s Safety Center?

My favorite thing about the Children Safety Center is the fact that it employs some of the most devoted individuals in this field that focus on one thing:  helping the child.  Not only this, but the CSC is a central resource for the entire community, providing resources that help families in every aspect of their lives.  I am very thankful for how quickly each advocate and interviewer responds to each case that I work with them.  Without the CSC, I feel that my job would be so much more difficult. 

Why is it important to spread awareness of the mission of the Children’s Safety Center to the community?

In many cases that I work, families are still unaware of what the CSC is and what they do to help the victim and the victim’s family.  Spreading awareness of the mission of what the CSC does every day helps show the victim, their family, and the entire community that no one has to go through this journey alone. 

Fun Fact that people may not know about you:

In 2012, I won an Emmy for a syndicated television show project in Fayetteville that I was a part of that shined light on how drug courts in America help with the ever-growing problem of substance abuse in our local community.  Ever since then, I have continued my interest in the creative field, hoping to one day win an Oscar…stay tuned

Below is Michael’s Ordinary Hero Award acceptance speech:

Something that I would like to start with is a little story by Shel Silverstein, that I’m sure we have all read at some point in our lives:

“I cannot go to school today”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.

My mouth is wet, my throat is dry.
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox.

And there’s one more – that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue,
It might be the instamatic flu.

I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I’m sure that my left leg is broke.
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in.

My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
My toes are cold, my toes are numb,

I have a sliver in my thumb.

My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,

I think my hair is falling out.

My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,

There’s a hole inside my ear.

I have a hangnail, and my heart is …
What? What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say today is ………….. Saturday?

G’bye, I’m going out to play!” 
― Shel Silverstein

Mr. Silverstein may not have fully understood the fact that children are affected by more than just a dry throat and enlarged tonsils.  Some problems are much worse, and don’t allow children to go out and play like they used too…or even allow them to go to a safe home. 

I started in this position a little over a year ago and I have never had a real opportunity to work with children in previous law enforcement positions throughout my entire career.

I can still remember the first child that was interviewed on my first day at work, which I observed at the CSC in Springdale.  He was a young man, about 12 years old, and he had autism.  Throughout the interview with Karen, I noticed that he would not answer a tough question unless he placed his foot on top of her foot…this tiny little movement seemed to give him the courage to move forward in the conversation, even with tears in his eyes.  I was heartbroken when he told his story that day.

From that first day through today, I could not have done this job without the help of this entire team of professionals.  Some days, as we have all experienced, are much worse than others.  However, it is through the cooperation, communication, daily uplifting, and partnership that I’ve spent the past year working on with each of you in order to help save the lives of children in our communities.  I believe in partnerships and building bridges, but sometimes bridges need to be rebuilt on a foundation of trust, encouragement, and support.  In short, I could not have done this job without all of your expertise, patience, and assistance. 

Some of you I’ve harassed with multiple phone calls, that I always followed up with long and exhausting voicemails, hundreds of text messages, pages of emails, and then even a personal visit to your office where I would either find you, wait for you, or put a mountain of sticky notes on your desk…all of this in a matter of an hour or less sometimes.  As most of you know, I am persistent, but I have the best of intentions, because what drives me is the health and well-being of those that can’t protect or help themselves.  I remain approachable even if we disagree, because I can’t learn how to better protect children if you don’t provide me constructive feedback.  I get tunnel vision sometimes, as we all do, but I never lose focus. 

I don’t have enough time up here to thank each of you by name, because there are a lot of names, but if you are in this room, as well as those that could not be here today, please stand and give each other a round of applause for the work that we do every day.

Lastly, I would like to personally thank the Children Safety Center in Springdale for your daily encouragement and words of wisdom…and, of course, your patience in allowing me to use your conference room many times as my office.  Without each of you, this job could have been much more challenging.  Whether a child is 2 years old or 17 years old, the Children Safety Center remains one of, if not the best option, to help children of all ages get the resources they need to start healing from their trauma. 

A quote that drives each and every one of us, stands firmly today:  “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

#SupporterSaturday w. Sassafras Springs Vineyard

Gene and Cheryl Long opened Sassafras Springs Vineyard and Winery 5 years ago.  With over 60 acres on the estate, the Longs have created beautiful spaces for guests to relax with a glass of wine, have a party, host a special event and have beautiful wedding, all going on at the same time in different spaces.

How did you become involved with the Children’s Safety Center?

We became involved when Emily from the Children’s Safety Center reached out to us regarding a fundraiser they were having and they were looking for a donation of wine. We have been a contributor to them since that first year we opened and met them. We took a tour of the center and they showed us all that they do. Gene and I both cried. Literally, we cried. 

Why do you continue to stay involved?

We have such a heart for the Children’s Safety Center because it is such a necessary part of our community and we have a heart for what they do at the center to help sexually and physically abused children. The number of children that they saw last year was a approximately 838. The need for their service is so grand. 

What is your favorite thing about the Children’s Safety Center?

We love the people that work there. They have a sincere heart for helping children and adolescents through a traumatic time. We love the way that they handle this horrible situation and help families from disclosure of abuse to healing.  The way that they mentor, nurture and council is so well thought out and organized.

Why is it important to spread the mission of the Children’s Safety Center to the community?

More people need to be aware. There needs to be more awareness and support so the center can provide these necessary services. God puts us here for a reason, and we believe that the more people that know about the purpose of the center, the more money they will receive to support the children.

Fun Fact that people may not know about The Long’s or Sassafras Springs?

We love what we do! We love our customers and we love to meet new ones too. It is a small farm winery family business. We have 15 children and grandchildren so far. We hope all of our children join in and work at the winery. Some already do. Drew is our general manager, Derek is our wine maker and vineyard/grounds manager and Sarah is our wedding/event coordinator. Gene is usually mowing or building something and Cheryl is social media/advertising and email queen. Our first wine that we produced and bottled was entered into an international wine competition and we won a gold medal. There is so much to do and we have had so much growth. We want to continue to grow. Our lodge at the winery will be opening soon so stay tuned!




Any last thoughts folks should know?

Gene and Cheryl have recently retired and we now have a corgi dog. She will be around the winery some too. We welcome you to come by anytime and visit us and try some of our wine.