IN JULY of 1996, Detective Joyce McConnell was called out to a scene she will never forget. Detective McConnell was heartbroken at what she saw. Years after this event, Joyce founded Junior’s House, Inc. in 2001. Junior’s House, Inc. helps provide treatment for physically and sexually abused children and their families.
Crystal Guess is the executive director over Junior’s Houses which covers four counties: Bedford, Lincoln, Moore, and Marshall. Crystal has felt inexpressible joy at being able to help and support these incredible young survivors.
“Every community must care for child abuse victims,”Crystal said.“ One in ten children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday and thousands will be physically abused. Working at Junior’s House, we get to be a safe place for these children to share their story. I can’t express enough how honored we feel to work with these amazing survivors.”
Junior’s House offers free services to child abuse victims, these services include: coun- seling, advocacy, and prevention awareness. They also work alongside local law enforce- ment and community partners to help conduct interviews with children who may have been abused as well as work with schools to ensure that they have access to body safety information in order to help kids know what to do. None of the families are ever charged for any services offered by Junior’s House and this takes a huge weight off of their shoul- ders during a difficult time.
Junior’s House also offers a unique form of assistance for the children in their care. Allin, the facility/therapy dog, helps the children stay calm. When a child comes to Junior’s House, Allin can meet them as a gentle greeter. He can also sit with them in the courtroom. Having Allin sit across their lap in the high-pressure atmosphere of the courtroom can make a real difference. Along with that, he is well-trained after two years of training in Orlando, Florida. The facility dog can do a lot more than just fetch; he can turn pages of a book, play games, and more.
Child abuse is a real and pressing issue in communities all around the world. Many people are not aware of the resources provided here in Bedford County. With your help, you could prevent future child abuse and help those fighting it now. While there are hundreds of children needing help in the Tennessee Valley, there are thousands more adults ready and willing to help at a moment’s notice. Bedford County is full of people who can change lives for the better.
If you would like to get involved and want to help support and care for victims of child abuse and neglect, Junior’s House in Bedford County is in need of volunteers and could use your help. In the future, Junior’s House would love to have a Bedford County community board to help raise aware- ness about child abuse and potentially even fundraise for the 200 children they serve in Bedford County each year. They are also always in need of any donations of office supplies, snacks, and drinks for their clients. Currently they have the Junior’s Tree where you have the opportunity to select a child to sponsor for Christmas.
Crystal Guess said “the more the community is involved with Junior’s House, the more impact we can make as a community to stop child abuse.” -GN