A Legacy of Caring

CARE House of Oakland County—Pontiac, Michigan

After attending Benevon 101, Diane Bedenbaugh and her team from the CARE House of Oakland County immediately signed up for a five-year commitment with Benevon.

CARE House in Michigan.CARE House, located in Pontiac, Michigan, is a child abuse and neglect council. Before coming to Benevon they had a yearly budget of $1.5 million, twenty employees, and very little financial stability. They also had a building that they had long outgrown, which was limiting the number of children they could help.

Bedenbaugh, director of development, says that Benevon was a natural fit for CARE House.

"I really liked the model," she explains. "It was just such a sound and yet simple approach to fundraising. I look at Benevon as kind of an architect; they provide this sound structure and all you have to do is follow that blueprint, and you are going to come out with this wonderful result and achieve your vision."

Little did Bedenbaugh know that Benevon was to act as the architect for CARE House in more ways than one.

When they began with Benevon, the organization's legacy project was to build a new CARE House in order to help more children. To do so, they needed to raise $4 million.

Bedenbaugh and her team began by creating their Point of Entry, "Seeds of Hope." On the tour, visitors are introduced to the organization's mission through three "buckets": "creating hope, building dreams, and changing lives."

Bedenbaugh says the Points of Entry help to raise awareness about child abuse, a rampant problem in the U.S. The national statistic for abuse shows that one in every four girls and one in every six boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18. That translates into 60,000 children in Oakland County alone. CARE House sees 1,000 of those abused children every year.

CARE House in Pontiac, Michigan"The ones that come to CARE House are the lucky ones," Bedenbaugh notes.

Spreading the word about abuse can help to prevent it.

Bedenbaugh says that during one presentation made by CARE House, an officer learned about the telltale warning signs of abuse. He realized that he knew of a young girl who fit the profile: about to be expelled from her third school, constantly in trouble and acting out, she had a reputation for being terribly behaved. The officer brought the girl to CARE House, where she divulged that her mother's boyfriend was abusing her and her nine-year-old brother.

Assessing that the girl's mother was unfit to care for her, CARE House contacted her grandmother, who lived four hours away. The girl stayed at CARE House for the remainder of the day, waiting for her grandmother to pick her up. When she left, the volunteer who had spent the day with her told the other staff that she was one of the sweetest little girls the volunteer had ever met.

Bedenbaugh says that being brought to CARE House saved the girl's life.

"She was able to escape the abuse and have a fresh start."

In addition to Point of Entry tours, CARE House has also held five Ask Events. Those events helped to raise the $4 million needed for operations and to erect a new building.

They have since moved in, and Bedenbaugh says that having the space has greatly impacted the organization's ability to care for abused children.

The new CARE House is more than double the size of their old building, allowing the organization to eliminate the waiting list for children seeking therapy.

"In our old building we had two and a half therapy rooms—literally two and a half, the half was a converted bathroom," Bedenbaugh admits. "We now have six therapy offices."

CARE House in Pontiac, MI.The old CARE House had one small conference room, which limited the number of programs they could accommodate. The new building has a large conference room, which can be made into three separate rooms. That allows the organization to add additional groups to their roster of services, such as a treatment group for teen boys, which CARE House has wanted to have for years.

The conference room is big enough that CARE House will be able to host their Ask Events in-house, rather than having to rent out another venue.

But Bedenbaugh remains focused on the mission of CARE House, rather than on its new building.

"It isn't about a beautiful new building," she says. "It's about what goes on under its roof, the number of children we help, and the amount of awareness we raise."

The fact that CARE House of Oakland County has attained what it set out to with Benevon begs the question, where will the organization go from here? Bedenbaugh is quick to answer.

"We're going to the Benevon workshop in September to come up with a new legacy, because we've achieved what we set out to achieve."


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