Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 16, Issue 18
Hobnobbing with Helen
By HELEN ANN THOMAS
Number 108 at 218 Carmen Lane is a pleasant suite of small offices with an inviting air. Dollhouses, art supplies, and toys give away the fact that the space caters to children.
This is the home of Santa Maria’s CALM facility, where children, adults, and families who are involved in child abuse situations find therapy and child abuse prevention and treatment services.
CALM stands for Child Abuse Listening and Mediation and was founded in 1971 in Santa Barbara by a nurse (Clare Miles) who was horrified by the child abuse cases she saw in the emergency room.
There was obviously a tremendous need for this organization, which has grown by leaps and bounds, with offices now in Lompoc as well as in Santa Maria, where there is a staff of 26 and a waiting list for clientele.
CALM has a huge budget and is considered to be a vital resource for government agencies like Santa Barbara County Child Welfare Services, which has a contract with them.
On the Friday morning before the Fourth of July, all was quiet and serene in the local office as I met with Santa Barbara-based Lori Goodman, director of development for CALM, and Sandra Fuhring, North County development associate and intern, for an informational chat.
The ladies, who clearly love their work, pelted me with facts and figures and words like trauma-focused cognitive therapy, parenting practices, home visitation, and developmental guidance.
During the course of our conversation, Goodman revealed that the television ad campaign slogan “I will not be silent,” was her brainchild. Television watchers are surely familiar with local luminaries like county Sheriff Bill Brown, Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin, Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino, and businessman Andrew Firestone speaking out that they will not be silent as long as there is a child being mistreated. These public service ads cannot help but contribute to public awareness about CALM and its mission.
Several weeks prior, I had been at CALM’s second annual North County fundraising event at the Santa Maria Country Club, where they organization raised $19,000.
The event (with celebrity waiters and a packed house of about 200) whetted my appetite for more information.
Just exactly what is CALM all about?
In a nutshell, it is about childhood mental health. Children who appear to be victims of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, and/or neglect are candidates for CALM.
CALM provides psychological assessments and therapy for the children referred to them by Child Welfare Services, law enforcement, schools, and medical professionals.
CALM is also all about education—educating the child that whatever has happened to bring trauma to their life is not their fault and educating the parents about appropriate behaviors and fixing dysfunctional relationships.
“Most parents want to do the right thing for their children,” Goodman said. “But sometimes, they just don’t know what that is.”
“Most of the parents we deal with are open to opportunities for change,” she added.
Retired educator Judy Markline is on CALM’s North County Advisory Board. She said: “Being associated with CALM has been a real eye-opener for me.” Until she got involved with CALM, “I was not aware of how many children in town need the kind of therapy that CALM provides. It is truly a lifeline for so many youngsters,” she said.
Two people who constitute a vital force in the life of North County CALM are Peggy Blough and Mike Gibson (who is Fuhring’s father). They spearheaded the “Ladies Get Loud for CALM” event at the Country Club.
“Their combined rolodexes made the event so successful,” Markline said.“When those two get on the phone, watch out!”
CALM’s North County success has created a need for more space, which will be solved in August when they move to larger digs on Enos.
“Expansion is a necessity. We really are making children’s lives better,” Goodman said with conviction.
To make a donation online, go to calm4kids.org or call 614-9160 for more information.
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