Monday, December 24, 2012

Season's Greetings from your MBF Team

Season’s greetings friends. I’m Ed Burr, Founder and President of the Board at the Monique Burr Foundation for Children, Inc. We would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and in doing so spend a few moments reflecting on the gifts we have been given as an organization this past year… our facilitators and schools that have implemented our Speak Up Be Safe™ bullying and child abuse prevention program, our donors and sponsors, volunteers, and our terrific team.  Each of our team members brings so much to our foundation and our program and we thought it was a great time for them to share a bit about themselves and what they think is important about our work.

Lynn Layton – Executive Director
Greetings!  I am Lynn Layton, the executive director of the foundation, wife of Glenn Layton and mom to Clark Fouraker and Mallory Layton.  I have been with the foundation for five years.  I have the honor of working with Ed, our Board of Directors, and our team to help protect children from bullying and child abuse.  I am blessed with the love of my Savior, my family, my friends and the continued success and provisions that we receive to allow our work to continue.  Speak Up Be Safe is provided to public elementary schools at no cost to the school through the help of our donors and grants we receive; we hope to keep it that way! 

My prevention wish this season is that as a country, we can stop for a few minutes, put down our electronic devices and actually have eye contact with our children to help them understand that communicating with each other is best when done with our voices and not our fingers.  Teaching kids that instant response is not necessary and that patience is a virtue is a wonderful gift we can give children this season. 

In fact, there a lot of gifts we adults have to offer children, such as honest conversations.  The world can be a scary place and children need to know that adults are there to help keep them safe.  We need to get over being uncomfortable talking about scary topics because if we don’t talk to them, someone else will and most likely, they will share harmful or incorrect information.  We can get involved and ask our child’s school what prevention programs they offer students.  We can “show up” for our children – get educated, be aware, talk to them often, and advocate for safety and prevention.  Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a safe and informed 2013!

Amy Raymond – Administrative Assistant
Cheers!  I’m Amy and I have been with the Foundation for one year in my position with the goal of supporting the team to fulfill our vision.  It’s a great time of year for individuals, families, and organizations to reflect upon their successes and ongoing goals.  Every day working in this field brings new challenges, but with it great rewards. During my time here, my eyes have been opened to the risks our children face on a daily basis; however, I’ve learned that what we do at the Foundation literally changes children’s lives for the better.  My wish this holiday season is that every caregiver recognizes the importance of expressing love and taking the time to nurture children – and not just during the holidays, but every day.  This is the core of what creates healthy, happy kids and promotes a safe and healthy community.

Cori Wilson – Finance/Data Manager
Hi, I’m Cori Wilson, I manage all things data related at MBF and at home I manage a four-year old little boy. I'd like to share with you what I consider a cause for celebration this Christmas, our work at MBF.  For some reason, be it ignorance, fear, or disbelief, I see the reality of bullying and child abuse largely ignored during most people’s every day lives.  Parents teach their children to hold their hands when crossing the street, but they forget to teach them to talk to them if they feel scared or confused. However, MBF is changing that for the children in Florida, and I am proud to celebrate every success along the way with our team and our supporters.

Each lesson I learn as a parent, to me is a cause to celebrate as I consider it another way my child will grow up safer and better protected. I have learned as a parent of a four year old to not let my fears influence my tongue, because I have learned if we don’t talk to our children, someone else will. When my child brings up a scary subject it is tempting to change the subject, but I now know I must face the issue head on. I give him the truth, with reasons and reassuring love.  He comes out of the conversation with a greater understanding of the world around him, and he learns he can always come to me with questions.  I hope our knowledge and learning at MBF will help you as parents in your efforts to protect your children and give you cause to celebrate this holiday season and year-round!

Mary McDonald – Program Manager
Hi, I’m Mary, a Guardian Ad Litem volunteer and mom of two.  One of the most important lessons I’ve learned working for MBF and talking to all of our facilitators is that kids need people they can talk to about the really tough topics that they come across in their every day lives, things like needing to know what to do and what to say when faced with peer pressure. They need to know they have someone to talk to about the “sensitive” topics (everything from - when kids laugh or make fun of others to what to do when someone presents them with inappropriate photos, or alcohol or drugs).  These are all things that they will be confronted with and we need to help them be ready when they are put into those situations.  We work very hard to create great resources on our website that you can use to help you have these conversations with kids.  So this Christmas when the kids are on school break, spend a little time learning more about these topics and about how to have these conversations and then spend some time talking to your children.  It might not be the traditional way to spend your Christmas break but it truly is one of the most important things you can do to help your kids have a safer day every day in the New Year. Happy Holidays. I hope you have a great Christmas with your family.

Callie Criser – Communications & Development Manager
Hi, I'm Callie Criser and I coordinate our events, fundraising efforts, and social media sites.  I've been with the Foundation 2 1/2 years and am recently engaged and planning the wedding of my dreams… and since I love events, I am enjoying every minute of it! I did not know much about child abuse or bullying until I started here… I never knew anyone who was bullied or abused – but AWARE is the key word.  I grew up in a small town and went to a very sheltered school that didn't speak of these things.  I have since learned 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18 and I know abuse and bullying happens everywhere, even if we are not aware it is happening.

Being the communications manager, I know that bullying and child abuse have become easier because of technology.  With so many children getting technology gifts this holiday season, I hope that parents will teach their children how to use them appropriately and safely.  Technology is a wonderful thing, but it can also be very dangerous.  I encourage everyone to check out our Facebook page and Blog for tips, stories and resources about this topic and for additional safety information as well throughout the year. Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!

Cierra Bennet – Finance/Data Assistant
Hello everyone! My name is Cierra Bennett and I am the newest member of the MBF team.  I feel like I learn something new everyday and I’d like to share with you what I think are the real gifts of Christmas: family, friends, and the children in our lives that make the holidays much brighter!

Working at MBF has taught me how all of us can truly make a difference by being proactive to protect children. Kids are faced with tough situations everyday like being bystanders to bullying for example, and often we can help them, but only if kids are educated and empowered to help adults keep them safe. Give the kids in your life the gift of safety education this holiday season; look for every possible opportunity to communicate with them about safety issues and be available for them when they want to talk to you about their concerns. Here are a few tips I've learned while working at MBF:
  • Look for everyday opportunities to ask them questions about their day, and ask open-ended questions, like “What is something that you would like to talk about your day today?” or “Was there anything unusual that happened today?” 
  • Take opportunities to talk about the events that are going on around you that you may see on the news or that kids may ask about.
  • During these conversations, take the time to follow up on anything that concerns you with additional questions and discuss strategies kids can use if they are in or see unsafe situations.
This is just a start and you can learn more on our website and blog, but I hope you will take this opportunity to begin being proactive about communication and safety education with the children in your lives. Happy Holidays and here's to a New Year filled with many great conversations about safety issues between you and your kids.

Stacy Pendarvis – Education & Research Director
Season’s Greeting! I'm Stacy Pendarvis and the mother of 3.  I've been with the Foundation for 2 years and worked in the field of prevention for over 17 years.  I love every minute of working to protect children, and I love working for MBF; I am also the main writer of the Speak Up Be Safe Florida blog and it’s one of the things about my job I love the most.  But what I would really love to see this holiday season (and after this year of such powerful and negative media coverage) is every single person in our country involved to some degree in the effort to protect children from bullying and maltreatment, because everyone can do something. Awareness is great and I think people know the problems exist, but they do not act for whatever reason – maybe apathy or lack of knowledge about what to do.  However, AWARENESS WITH ACTION = PREVENTION!  So I hope everyone reading this will make it one of your resolutions in the New Year to learn more and do more to protect kids!  Keep reading the blog and our MBF Facebook page throughout the New Year for easy ideas on how to incorporate prevention into your everyday life.  Wishing all the best to you and yours in the New Year.  Merry Christmas!

Just as The Monique Burr Foundation for Children, Inc. was founded in 1997 as a way to carry on the work of my late wife, Monique Burr, a passionate child advocate, you can see our team and our organization epitomizes the work that Monique did in protecting children.  Our Speak Up Be Safe™ bullying and child abuse prevention program and everything we do is dedicated to educating and empowering adults and children with one goal in mind, keeping kids safe.  Our team works hard every day, all year to make sure children, parents, schools and communities have the tools and resources they need to protect children.

It is a gift to be able to educate and give back to the community, it is a gift to know what we are doing is helping to protect children every day, it is a gift to work with such a hardworking and dedicated team that is truly making a difference in children’s lives – and it is a gift to continue the legacy of Monique Burr. 

Merry Christmas to you, your children, and your loved ones from all of us at the Monique Burr Foundation for Children!

Edward Burr

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