All who enter here will find love: Through the doors of Childhelp

 

Every Childhelp advocacy center around the nation is a little different—different families, children, volunteers and staff. But one thing that they all have in common is hospitality. In Arizona, Jazmin Villegas is the first person to set the tone of each child’s visit to the advocacy center. Here is her story:

I am going on four years in April working at Childhelp. Although some days can be very difficult, it only motivates me to stay here and make a difference in the life of a child. Children inspire me to work in this field.

I am the first face the children see as they walk through the door. It is my duty to make each and every family feel calm and at ease. All I can do on my end is to be as friendly and compassionate as possible to make sure these children feel they are in a safe environment.

Many children enter this building in so much pain, afraid, saddened, not knowing how to handle or move forward with such a tragic episode in their lives. At the end of day we are here to guide them through each step of the way until they are ready to close this chapter and carry on with their childhood.

After four years I have seen and heard of so many heartbreaking stories, but there are also many with positive outcomes. It is much harder to deal with physical abuse cases because you can visually see the abuse. The one case that stands out the most is about a mother that entered Childhelp with her 8-year-old daughter and their luggage. She was dealing with domestic violence and the moment her husband put his hands on her daughter, she had had enough! She had no place to go and feared for their lives.

The mother tried to keep it together in the lobby as her daughter was hugging her telling and saying that everything would be okay. The detective needed to speak with mom in private, and the little girl did not want to leave her mom’s side. I told her that I would go into the playroom with her and show her the really cool toys we had in there. When the detective told them both that they would be going to a shelter, the mom broke down, and the little girl consoled her.

I was typing away at my desk and all of a sudden I felt these little arms wrapped around my neck and a soft little voice say, “Thank you.” I turned my chair and the little girl hugged me really tight and said, “Thank you for helping me and my mom.” Mom hugged me as well and said, “Thank you! Thank you!” I helped them carry their luggage to the cab and once again they both thanked me and hugged me. I had the biggest knot in my throat and the second I turned and walked away I could not help but cry. I wish there was more I could do for them.

I strongly believe childhood should be the happiest and most innocent time of everyone’s life. A child should be allowed to enjoy their childhood to the fullest because it plays such a big role in who they will or could become. There are unfortunate events and people that we cannot protect children from but someone has to do this job. If I could make the smallest bit of a difference in a child’s life, whether it’s greeting them, putting a smile on their face, or holding their hand as I walk them into the playroom I have already accomplished so much more than I hoped for.

In the end, we provide therapy to help them through the healing process. Children come back to life once they are fully healed. They learn to smile, laugh, trust, and live again. That’s what really counts.

Written by Jazmin Villegas, Advocacy Center Reception

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