Commentary by Toby Stark
We recently said good-bye to a dear friend… a friend that had been a gracious host and a source of comfort to so many children in Hamilton County. The farmhouse that was Chaucie’s Place’s home for 10 years was demolished last week so that its owner, St.Vincent Carmel Hospital, can begin helping even more families in our community with its new St.Vincent Women’s Center.
More than 2,600 children who had reported sexual or physical abuse or neglect had been interviewed in that farmhouse. Children who felt their first glimmer of hope inside those four walls, first felt support and a small sense that things may be okay.
It was also inside that farmhouse where Chaucie’s Place leadership made the decisions to increase the organization’s focus on child sexual abuse prevention; understanding that there is no greater responsibility than keeping children safe, than preventing harm from happening to children.
That farmhouse became Chaucie’s Place’s first home because of the Hamilton County community’s determination to find a better way for child victims, and because of the generosity of many organizations including The Legacy Fund, the Lilly Foundation, and – of course – St.Vincent Carmel Hospital who leased us the home for a mere $1 a year. St.Vincent Carmel was a generous landlord and remains a steadfast partner.
The spirit of our farmhouse lives on in our new facility, owned by Martin Marietta and leased to Chaucie’s Place for $1 a year. We salvaged almost everything that could be salvaged – to eliminate waste, save money, and to ensure a little bit of our past joins with our future. Thank-you for 10 wonderful years of caring, protection and healing. We thank St.Vincent Carmel for its hospitality and wish it well with its expansion of services for the families of Hamilton County.
Toby Stark is the executive director of Chaucie’s Place, a nonprofit Child Advocacy Center that works to prevent child sexual abuse and youth suicide.