People might often see members of the Guardians of the Children advocacy organization ride by on their motoycycles or read about or notice one of the organization’s regular events. But president of the organization’s central Illinois chapter, Ed Moore, says they don’t always understand what the group does.
Moore talked recently to the Clinton Journal to explain the Guardians’ purpose as the members prepare for their annual “Destiny’s Ride,” a fundraising event that honors Destiny Cox, a three-year-old Clinton girl who died from abuse.
“We want to give children back their childhoods,” Moore says.
In cases of child abuse, the organization often is contacted by a parent or legal guardian. They also receive referrals from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).
“As long as there’s an active court case, we meet with the family to make sure we’re a good fit for one another,” Moore says. “We let them know what we do, and they tell us what they expect.”
Guardians of the Children will “adopt” a child into their organization and offer support during what is usually a stressful time. They hold an adoption party, often with other children the group is helping, and go to court with families.
“We offer rides to and from court, to and from counseling,” Moore says.
The club also sometimes is able to provide telephone cards for families and even gasoline cards to cover costs of travel in some cases. The Guardians, too, can sometime provide groceries for families.
“It can be a hardship on a family if the person accused is a parent who is also the bread winner,” Moore says.
The big role for the Guardian’s, though, is “letting the kids know there’s always somebody in their corner and that they don’t have to be afraid anymore,” Moore says.
Moore added that, while Guardian’s will help families in any kind of abuse case, “unfortunately they are mostly sexual,” he said. “And, 90 percent of the time, it’s not a stranger,”
Guardians member Rob Mollet says when the organization first adopts a child, they give the child a Teddy bear that every member has hugged.
“That way that child knows the bear is full of us, and anytime they want it refilled with hugs, they can bring it back to us, and we’ll hug it again,” Mollet says.
Cases don’t always involve small children. Guardians' members traveled to Louisville, Ky., to attend a case involving a 19-year-old girl who testified against a former teacher.
“She was 19-years-old, but she still needed reassurance that things would be okay,” Moore says.
In that case, they gave the girl a club “Challenge” coin so she would have something to hold onto during the proceedings.
In the Kentucky case, the central Illinois Guardians responded because Louisville did not have a chapter.
Although Moore is president of the central Illinois chapter of Guardians, “we will go wherever we’re needed,” says Rob Mollet.
Guardians of the Children is an international organization.
• Saturday, July 21
• Lafayette Club / 1600 S. Main Street, Bloomington
• Registration-9 a.m.
• Kickstands up-11 a.m.
There will be live music, dinner, raffles and an auction. Cost will be $10 per person, and all vehicles are welcome.