Childhelp Organization is Changing the World One Child at a Time
Childhelp began amidst the glitz and glam of 1950s Hollywood, where founders and friends, Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson, were working as actresses on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet Show. As fate would have it, in 1969 O’Meara and Fedderson were recruited to perform for our troops overseas and headed out for a typhoon ravaged Tokyo, Japan. One stormy evening, the two adventurous friends dared to brave the weather and ventured outside, where they were immediately struck with a sight unlike any other they had experienced before.
“We came across 11 stranded children that were the picture of devastation. They didn’t have jackets or shoes, their knuckles were cracked and bleeding from the cold, and they kept crying. So we took them back to the room and gave them food and a hot bath,” says O’Meara.
The next morning, on the brink of giving up on finding an orphanage that would take the children, the friends came across a woman living in a hut with 10 other orphans who finally agreed to take them in.
“That night after our show, we stopped and explained to the servicemen that we needed their help to build up the orphanage,” says O’Meara. “So that was kind of like our first fundraiser for children.”
Things took off from there, with the newly expanded orphanage in Japan housing over 100 children, and the creation of International Orphans Incorporated back in the states.
The idea of having O’Meara and Fedderson head the movement to help abused and neglected children was planted by none other than Nancy Regan, who approached the women at a charity luncheon.
“We investigated the issue further and realized that we had to create national awareness about what was happening to these children, and a safe place where they could be healed from every angle,” says O’Meara.
That vision came true with the opening of the Childhelp Village in Beaumont California—the first residential treatment center in the country for abused children.
Healing in Arizona
Over the years, Childhelp’s programs have spread throughout the country, with a few notable ones here in Arizona. The Childhelp Speak Up Be Safe program works toward ensuring every child in Arizona is provided with the skills needed to identify and report abuse, while the Childhelp National Abuse Hotline provides a 24-hour, 365-day outlet staffed by professional crisis counselors.
Then there’s the Childhelp Children’s Center of Arizona, which provides treatment, intervention and investigative services for children all under one roof, helping each child quickly get their story told and placed into a safe environment.
“We have an outstanding program that does wonders with these children and turns lives around every day. I am just so proud of all the staff and volunteers who have helped Childhelp accomplish all that it has done over the years,” says Fedderson.
Wings of Hope
Another program unique to Arizona is Childhelp Wings, a parent-child charity organization that teaches children about giving back and identifying abuse situations. Each year, they host the Wings Fashion Show and Luncheon directly benefiting the Arizona chapter of Childhelp, with parents, grandparents and children participating as models.
“What I really love about it is the children helping children aspect, because being a part of Wings really helps these children become educated about giving back to the community,” says Tiffany Qualye, co-chair of this year’s Wings Fashion Show.
With 57 years under its belt, Childhelp shows no signs of slowing down, as both the organization’s members and its founders remain as passionate about the cause today as they did on day one.
For more information, please visit Childhelp.org. To reach the National Child Abuse Hotline, call 1.800.4.A.CHILD.