Horrible things happen to children every single day.
It’s true. We don’t want it to be true, but it is. We live in a world where people do ghastly things to children — things adults who have a healthy brain and at least a partially clean soul don’t want to think about.
No one knows this better, or has had it made more public, than the people of Centre County. It is our shame, our cross to bear, that these things happened in our borders, that they tainted proud icons of our landscapes.
But this is a column about good news in our area.
We can’t just ignore the bad things when they happen, because we know that leads to more bad things happening. Dragging the monsters out of the closet might horrify us, but sometimes you have to bring the vampire into the sunlight to see if it crumbles to dust.
There are, thankfully, people in our communities who make their life’s work the monumental task of making children safe, helping them heal, lifting them up. In the Moshannon Valley area, we are blessed to have more of these people than I can list.
There is the local branch of the Centre County YMCA, where the focus is unapologetically on children, giving them safe places to go, a second family of friends and adults in times of fun and times of need and, for some, the purpose of their lives through sports or arts.
There is the Child Development and Family Council, which has spent decades making it safe for parents to go to work to provide a roof over their children’s heads through day care as well as summer programs and before- and after-school programs.
Last year, when a new Philipsburg-Osceola policy threatened the CDFC’s ability to continue programs in the schools, board members like Susan McGee stood up and said that, without them, she wouldn’t have been able to do her job as a teacher for years with two school-age boys at home.
Of course, there are those teachers.
Everyone can name the bad teacher they had. But I recently said goodbye to several amazing educators from my own P-O career, including Brenda Shealer, the English teacher who was also my first editor as the adviser of the Blue and White school paper. She was that rare breed who was as enthusiastic and engaged on her last day as she was when I sat in her journalism class 26 years ago.
And then there are the many, many people of Cen-Clear Child Services.
From early-education teachers who teach kids to love learning and help parents be more engaged in the process to the critically important counselors and therapists who work with children through pain and confusion, to the people behind the scenes who help make that happen with grants and coordinating the efforts across multiple counties and school districts, it is impossible to calculate how many children’s lives they have touched, or how many they may have saved.
Horrible things happen to children every single day. But they don’t have to. And there are people who will do anything to change that.