Friday, January 31, 2014

Family Support Line helps Child Sexual Abuse victims

 For 25 years, a Delaware County organization, Family Support Line, has worked quietly behind the scenes to make life better for young survivors of one of society’s most unspeakable acts: Child sexual abuse.

    The Media-based non-profit visits dozens of schools every year to offer tips on prevention, presents special training to counselors and other professionals, and provides many hours of counseling to the survivors, often while they are preparing to testify against their alleged abusers in court.

   This year, as Family Support Line prepares for its annual Bids for Kids gala fundraiser on April 11 at a new venue, the group is also working on a major expansion of its mission. It is spearheading a project with Delaware County officials to launch a certified  Children’s Advocacy Center in Media – a welcoming place where a victim of child sexual abuse can tell her story on videotape, in an effort to avoid the trauma of testifying multiple times.

     Patricia Kosinski, the executive director of Family Support Line, said the group is excited about working with other local agencies to create a safe haven where children can tell their story. Already, the group reaches more than 6,000 people in the county every year through its existing assortment of programs.

     That work includes more than 3,800 a year who learn about keeping safe from would-be predators in prevention programs in schools, community centers, and church groups. The organization also supports the work of about 20 therapists who provided some 450 hours of free counseling to young sexual abuse victims.

    “It’s critical that we help to respond to child sexual abuse and help heal the hurt,” Kosinski said in describing the mission of Family Support Line. “The devastation that this causes just permeates a victim’s life. If we can make them survivors, not only are we helping them individually but it trickles down to the cost of the health care system, to work productivity, et cetera. It’s crucial that we intervene.”

     The drive to expand the group’s mission gives an even greater sense of urgency to the upcoming Bids for Kids annual fundraiser, which Kosinski calls “our signature event.” She explained that “because we don’t have a physical center yet, and because much of our work and clients is private, this becomes the face of our organization.” The gala and auction raises about 10 percent of the annual half-a-million dollar budget for Family Support Line, with the rest coming from grants, government contracts and other sources.

     This year’s Bids for Kids moves to a new venue, the just-renovated Historic Llanerch Country Club, and will offer attendees a chance to bid at either silent or live auctions for a variety of unique donated items, such as box seats to see the Philadelphia Union or the Phillies, handmade jewelry, golf passes , certificates to area attractions and restaurants, a bicycle, children’s toys, and much more. There will be hors d’oeuvres and a one-hour open bar.

     “It is a fabulous event,” Kosinski said. “We have people coming back year after year.”

     Tickets and sponsorship information for Bids for Kids is available online -- -- or call the Family Support Line at (610) 891-5275 for more information.

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