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Column: Working for every child
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Column: Working for every child

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Mark Mathews

"My name is Mark Mathews, and I work for EveryChild."

Since late this past October, when our board voted in favor of changing our name from the Child Abuse Council to EveryChild, I’ve been repeating these words to myself. Not because our new name is hard to remember, but because I can’t help but think ahead to all the people—from children, families, and community professionals to volunteers, donors, and funders—it’s going to help us reach.

Our mission of supporting safe, healthy childhoods for every child in our community hasn’t changed. If the name EveryChild feels natural to us, that’s because it reflects the approach we’ve taken for more than 40 years of strengthening families through prevention, education and treatment. As part of this strength-based approach, we focus on building up the skills, knowledge, and resources that every family needs to steer clear of problems before they ever happen. And when those problems do occur, our treatment services work to ensure that every child in the Quad Cities and Muscatine has fair opportunities to thrive, no matter what they’ve been through.

Of course, we all know first impressions matter. Over the past year, we’ve taken the time to carefully consider the face we want to put out in the community and how we talk about our work. During our research, we found that our old name was actually turning away some of the people we could help. Instead of feeling invited to start a conversation about what we do and why we do it, they heard our name and headed the other way.

I remember my own introduction to this organization 11 years ago. My first son was just a few months old when I received a voicemail I’ll never forget: "Hi Mark, this is so-and-so at the Child Abuse Council. Please call me as soon as you can." My heart dropped. Was my son OK? Did someone think I would ever do anything to hurt him? Even recalling that moment today makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

As it turned out, my mom had given my name and number to a volunteer coordinator. Beyond relieved, I agreed to help run Basic Training for New Dads, monthly classes that equip fathers with everything they need to prepare for the birth of a child. As a volunteer, I saw our proactive approach and the tremendous impact our programs and services were having on the families we worked with. And I saw that we had the potential to support even more—if we could just reach them. But I also knew what it was like to get that call and not understand, to hear those words and fear the worst.

When you hear the name EveryChild, we want you to feel welcome to learn more about what we have to offer and how we can work together. When you say the name EveryChild, we want you to feel the same passionate excitement and optimism we do for our mission.

After all, our new name is a reminder that the work we do to promote safe, healthy childhoods for every child stands to benefit everyone in our community. What children experience when they’re young has a hand in shaping what they can accomplish as they grow into adults, from education and employment to relationships and beyond. Until every child has what they need to grow up and achieve their goals, we as a community cannot achieve ours.

Today, we couldn’t be prouder to introduce ourselves to you. As we launch this new name and identity, I hope you’ll get to know all the things we do. You might just find a resource that could help your family, school, or workplace—or feel inspired to support our mission with your gifts, your time, or your voice.

We work for EveryChild. Won’t you join us?

Mark Mathews is executive director of EveryChild (formerly the Child Abuse Council), which is based in Moline but serves the entire Quad-Cities and Muscatine.

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