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Opinion

Help for children available in Summit County

1/10/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

It was with great sorrow that I learned of the unprecedented and unfathomable tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Conn., as we approached the holiday season. I doubt there is anyone who does not wonder “Could [it] happen here?” “Could it happen to my family?”

Mental, emotional and behavioral illnesses occur in children of all ages and economic and ethnic backgrounds. Finding the help, support and therapeutic solutions to help these children and their families mend their unraveling lives is not often available in so many communities.

There is a dearth of experienced, talented and caring behavioral health therapists in this country, and there is a corresponding chasm of adequate financial support.

However, the residents of Summit County have a rare and precious resource — a gift from the community over 70 years ago — and an institution that is committed to ensuring that each and every child and family that needs help has a person and a place to go to for qualified and professional help.

Child Guidance & Family Solutions (CG&FS) was established in 1939 through the foresight and the wisdom of a variety of members of this community who identified the need to not only provide medical help to those children who suffer from physical ailments but also those children who were suffering from mental and emotional challenges. The Junior League of Akron, Akron Children’s Hospital and (what was then) the Council of Social Services studied the issue for a number of years and researched what was being done in other communities and in professional circles.

The result? The Junior League of Akron established the Child Guidance Center in a repurposed house adjacent to Akron Children’s Hospital. The agency continues to operate out of this site and six other sites in Summit County, where nearly 2,000 children and their families visit each week for help. Additionally, CG&FS offers support services on-site in various schools, preschools, medical facilities and other community locations throughout the county. And, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year, there is a crisis line to staff who are on-call to help whenever someone needs it.

CG&FS was established, built and is maintained through the generosity, commitment and investment of this community. As residents of Summit County, we are remarkably fortunate to have this resource where a caring professional staff is committed to using their hearts and minds to mend hearts and minds. It is critically important to our future, the future of our children, the future of our community and, indeed, of our society that we continue to recognize the need to provide an ongoing resource of support, help and hope to all who are in need of this very specialized and critical medical care, and that we, as concerned members of the community, continue investing in this organization and ensuring that our children have the opportunity to lead productive, rewarding and fruitful lives regardless of the challenges they may face.

Although CG&FS has served thousands and thousands of children, it believes that one child is reason enough, as do I.

May this new year be blessed.

Judy Fowler, West Akron (past president of the Junior League of Akron and currently a sustaining member, and a former trustee of Child Guidance & Family Solutions and currently interim vice-president of Institutional Advancement)

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