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CAS Saves Child

November 20, 2011 permalink

Helena Wiebe

Source: linkedin

Today's story is in the man-bites-dog category: a child genuinely helped by Windsor CAS.

Fixcas does not repeat puffery from CAS, the kind that comes without names, because it is too tempting for CAS to alter details of an anonymous story. A Texas newspaper was embarrassed when it was caught printing a fake Christmas story from local child protectors. Today's story has the real name of the child, Helena Wiebe, now an adult. Most fixcas stories are negative toward CAS not because of censorship, but because so few families have good experiences.



CAS came to her rescue

Helena Wiebe still remembers the day when, as a 15-year-old numbed by another horrible day of abuse, she walked into her backyard with a knife - determined to escape.

But before she plunged the long blade into her heart, an "angel" spoke to her.

"I looked up at the sky and it felt like the clouds were coming down on me," she recalled Friday. "It was grey and there was this weird feeling that came over me and I thought, 'I'm going to do this.'

"And out of my left ear I heard these little footsteps and I turned and I saw my youngest brother come running up, saying, 'Nina, what are you doing?'"

The sound of her nickname from such a loving, needy soul brought a change of heart.

"I realized if I had gone through with it, what it would have done to him and the rest of my family," said the Windsor marketing professional who turns 27 Monday.

"So I always say my little brother is my angel." Wiebe soon finally told a friend about what she calls "every kind of abuse," which started before she can remember at the hands of a related adult male.

She had been afraid to share her terrible secret because she loved her six brothers. But now it was out of her hands: the friend told a counsellor, who told the Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society, which promptly came to the rescue.

Wiebe is telling her story to the media for the first time as part of a new provincewide promotional campaign called "I am Your Children's Aid." The local CAS also includes the tag line, "I Am a Success Story."

The idea is as simple as it is rare for the CAS: promote the organization with personal stories so that more people might help.

"It takes a village to raise a child," said Bill Bevan, CEO of the Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society. "But we have to let people inside the village a little bit to really understand what we're doing so more people will aspire to help children in the community."

The local CAS has been protecting the community's most vulnerable for 111 years.

With an annual budget of $55 million, the agency has more than 600 children in care, down from a peak of more than 800.

Source: Windsor Star

Addendum: Another woman, 27-year-old Jane Kovarikova, also thanks children's aid. This story is not so clear on whether she succeeded because of, or in spite of, CAS.



Jane Kovarikova
Jane Kovarikova spoke at the Children's Aid Society's Magic of the Season fundraiser, held at the South Shore Centre, Friday night.

Celebrating success

It was during her critical-thinking class at university that Jane Kovarikova learned one of the most important lessons of her life.

"I learned that my results come directly from my efforts, as do my failures," Kovarikova told the assembled 200 people gathered to celebrate the 27-yearold's successes at the Magic of the Season Children's Aid Society (CAS) event, Friday night at Barrie's Southshore Centre.

"Foster kids face so many obstacles," she said. "Through education, I was able to start on a level playing field and you really get a chance to enter that next stage of life as an equal."

The mature 27-year-old didn't begin life with many opportunities.

After her parents escaped the Iron Curtain surrounding the Czech Republic in the 1970s, they made their way to Canada. Struggling with their new lives, their young daughter started missing school and was taken from them at the age of five. Kovarikova bounced around a few foster homes, was brought back to her parents, but was removed from their care and became a ward of the state at age 12.

After another series of foster homes and a 'square-pegroundhole' attitude toward high school, Kovarikova said she was living on her own at 16.

"At high school, test scores didn't matter, it was whether you attended enough classes. These (CAS) kids come from different backgrounds, there has to be a more creative approach to getting them through high school," she said.

Recent statistics show her struggles with secondary school are similar to most Crown wards. Just 44% of the roughly 8,000 children under the society's care graduate from high school.

Fewer still will even consider a post-secondary education.

With the help of the province's advocate for children and youth, former CAS kids are asking for more help from the province.

"With education for CAS kids, if we can break the cycle of abuse and poverty, it's over," said Kimberly Carson of the Children's Aid Foundation. "However, for post-secondary school, we're it -- there's no call home for money. We're the parents."

Friday night's annual CAS fundraiser of $75,000 more than helped pave the way for the next generation of CAS kids who can take Kovarikova's message of self-determination to heart and regard college or university as a way out.

She started at Georgian College for a general arts degree at 17, switched to Laurentian University earning a bachelor of arts in psychology and kept on going.

With a masters of science in human rights from the London School of Economics, Kovarikova has landed herself back in Ontario as the legislative assistant to Barrie MPP Rod Jackson.

With the vision of more successful CAS students on the horizon, longtime CAS volunteer Frank Berdan approached Georgian College, and a $25,000 scholarship for local Crown wards was started.

After the announcement Friday of the new Georgian scholarship, bidding also began on endowments for students, which raised more than $11,000 towards post-secondary schooling.

"It's one charity where people can see where the money is going," said Jackson, who with his wife, Joanne, were hosts of Friday's event. "We are helping out kids tonight who otherwise wouldn't have shot."

Of the 200 attendees of the event, many bid on the silent auction items that included everything from a print by artist A.Y. Jackson, to a CCM bike, a Beatles Abbey Road print or an experience item, such as a skating party with Olympic figure-skater and city councillor, Jennifer Robinson.

With Kevin Slavish Design's donation of the evening's clever design and ambiance, hors d'oeuvres by At the Five restaurant on Dunlop Street, and the enchanting voice and guitar combo of Michelle Guy and Brad Hilliker, the soiree may be hard to top by next year's hosts, Barry Peacock and his wife, Dr. Liz Anderson.

Source: Barrie Examiner