Making, Baking, and Talking…

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The Grand Traverse Pie Company’s “Kid’s Make and Bake” was about much more than cherry pie… This event is a big hit at the National Cherry Festival each year and provides a unique and effective platform to advocate on behalf of children everywhere. Within the Grand Traverse Pie Company’s message of “Love, Peace, and Pie” there lies an incredible opportunity to speak with parents and caregivers about the importance of prevention and speaking openly about child sexual abuse.

As we welcomed over 400 children (plus their accompanying adults) into the tent, there was an air of excitement accompanied by the sobering truth that 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. We know that prevention is the answer and that education is the first step in heading down that path. We are incredibly grateful to the Grand Traverse Pie Company for providing us with a national platform for relaying this message and to all those adults who took the time to bring their children to this event and take a moment to have a conversation with us.

It is clear that the community is ready to hear this message and they are also ready to respond. Let’s continue this conversation so we can create a world where every child has the opportunity to live a happy and healthy life. To learn more about what you can do to keep the conversation going, visit our Prevention Education page.

Also, be sure and check out the featured story on the Kid’s Make and Bake from 9and10 News!

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Free Training to Prevent Abuse: Advocacy Center Grows Prevention Efforts


BY SARAH ELMS | June 16, 2015

TRAVERSE CITY — One in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center officials know the statistic well, and they’re reaching out to area adults to help keep children safe.

They’ve created a core team of about 20 volunteers certified to provide child sexual abuse prevention training to adults at schools, businesses or volunteer organizations in the Grand Traverse region.

“This is happening everywhere in every community including our own, and it is really time to help adults in our community to understand this issue and that it is their responsibility to keep (children) safe,” said Hannah Rodriguez, the center’s prevention coordinator.

Jayne Mohr, a retired educator and the advocacy center’s board chairwoman, is a member of the new team of trainers. She said it’s important for adults to take responsibility for the heath and safety of children, who are often too young to stand up for themselves.

The training will give adults the education they need to recognize the signs of abuse in children and the tools to act responsibly.

“Obtaining the skills to do something about it and to take those next steps is what we’re really shooting for,” Rodriguez said.

The training is free through a partnership with the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, and anyone can get involved. Rodriguez encourages interested groups to contact the center and set up a training session.

“It’s up to adults to talk to their children, to talk to one another, and to say as a community, ‘this is not OK with us,'” she said. “We’re a community committed to making the health and safety of our children a priority.”

Call 231-929-4250 for more information or to schedule a training session.

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_837577The moment a child discloses abuse will most likely be remembered as one of the toughest moments of their life.

It is our job to make it as easy as possible for our children to come to us when they have something difficult to say. The last thing they want or need is judgement or questions that make them feel guilty for waiting to tell or allowing it to happen in the first place.

Since only a small percentage of children will tell about their abuse within the first year, it’s necessary that we instill a sense that “it’s never too late” – that no matter how serious or scary, we will support and help them – that’s our job as adults.


Sexual abuse is often confusing for a child. Abusers often manipulate children by making them feel that this is a loving interaction, that it is normal. They often seek to pleasure the child so that the child feel good about what is happening. The older the child – the more likely they are to understand that this is not normal, and become confused by feelings of wanting it not to occur yet physically feeling pleasure. This can lead to feelings of embarrassment, shame, and guilt for being “complicit” in their own abuse. Some children would rather deal with the stress and burden of carrying these emotions than have to face their parents and expose their “dirtiness” and/or failure to say no to their abuser.

We must remind our children:
If you were are too afraid to say no – it’s not your fault.
If the person tricked or scared you into letting them touch you, or you touch them – it’s not your fault.
If you feel like you love this person – it’s not your fault.
If it felt good to your body – it’s not your fault.
If it happened over and over again – it’s still not your fault.

This happens to children all over the world.
You have nothing to be ashamed about.
I would always be happy and proud of you for telling me.
I love you no matter what.


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Shine On! Gala set for April 23

TBCAC-Shine-On Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2015 4:36 pm

BY SARAH ELMS TRAVERSE CITY — “Shine on” is the staff motto at the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center. It’s also the name of their first gala fundraiser set for next week. Officials designated the April 23 event as a way to build awareness about child abuse prevention and also to celebrate the community partnerships that keep children safe. Hannah Rodriguez, the center’s prevention coordinator, called the gala “a collage performance.” Singer-songwriter Miriam Pico will emcee the event, which will include musical performances by Traverse Symphony Orchestra’s Michael Beery and duo Seth Bernard and May Erlewine. There will also be a spoken word performance by a survivor of child sexual abuse. “That is going to be very powerful,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez cautioned anyone sensitive to the topic or parents intending to bring small children that the spoken word piece may be difficult for some to hear. The gala also will include a silent auction for a children’s bicycle. All proceeds from the auction and a portion of the event’s ticket sales will go directly to the advocacy center and its programs. The nonprofit provides child abuse prevention and intervention services to children and families throughout the community, and officials rely greatly on grants and donations. “Everything we do at the Children’s Advocacy Center for children and families we provide for free,” Rodriguez said. “Support from our community financially and socially is so important for use so that we can continue to do this work.” The gala is April 23 from 7-9 p.m. at InsideOut Gallery in Traverse city. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased in advance at or at the door.

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Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse

In 1989, the Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse had its early beginnings as a Virginia grandmother’s tribute to her grandson who died as a result of abuse. She tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her car as a way to remember him and to alert her community to the tragedy of child abuse. The Blue Ribbon Campaign has since expanded across the country, and many wear blue ribbons each April in memory of those who have died as a result of child abuse. In other communities, special fundraisers are held to support prevention activities and treatment facilities for victims, and candlelight vigils are held as a remembrance. Most recently, the focus has shifted toward a more positive message of celebrating “blue ribbon” individuals, organizations, and communities who have done much to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Staff at the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center will be wearing blue ribbons throughout April to acknowledge National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Over 700 children have walked through the doors of the TBCAC since opening in 2010, and many have reported incidences of sexual and physical abuse, neglect, and witness to violence. Wearing blue ribbons honors the courage of these children to speak out against abuse and encourages us all to do the same. Why not make and wear your own blue ribbon this month?  Doing so is a simple way to increase awareness in our community of the need to ensure the safety and well-being of children.

ribbon hand

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Child Abuse Prevention Month: Celebrating Together

It is officially National Child Abuse Prevention Month and we here at the Traverse Bay CAC are thrilled to be partnering and hosting several events in honor of this important time of year.  From providing education on the topic of prevention to hosting an evening of music and celebration, we have a whole calendar of events for you to take part in:

Community Prevention Seminar
Wednesday, April 15th
Women’s Resource Center
720 S. Elmwood Ave.
Traverse City, MI

Join us for a conversation on creating a community where children are safe from sexual abuse, hosted by the Women’s Resource Center. Click HERE to register.

CAP Month Story Time
Thursday, April 16th
Darcy Library of Beulah
7238 Commercial Ave.
Beulah, MI

Join us at the Beulah Library for a special edition of story time, focusing on sharing stories with children that teach them about their bodies and personal boundaries.

My Body Belongs to Me!
Monday, April 20th
Traverse Area District Library (Woodmere)
McGuire Room
610 Woodmere, Ave.
Traverse City, MI

This special storytime for preschoolers and kindergarteners will be presented by storyteller Jenifer Strauss and singer/songwriter Miriam Pico. Jenifer and Miriam will be sharing an important message for children to understand: “My body belongs to me!” Groups of 10 or more please register by calling TADL Youth Services at (231) 932-8503.

Shine On! Gala
Thursday, April 23rd
Doors Open at 7pm
InsideOut Gallery
229 Garland St.
Traverse City, MI

Join us as we celebrate our community’s commitment to protecting children and help us “Shine On!” as we continue this journey! The evening will include a collage performance hosted by Miriam Pico and feature local artists, Seth Bernard and May Erlewine. There will also be a silent auction for a children’s bike, generously donated by the Grand Traverse Pie Co. All proceeds from the auction will benefit the TBCAC!

***NOTE ABOUT SUBJECT MATTER: This evening will include a spoken word performance that discusses experience with child sexual abuse as the subject matter. Please consider this if you plan to bring children or others who may be sensitive to this topic.


Spring Splatter 5K
Saturday, April 25th
9am Start Time
Central High School
1150 Milliken Drive
Traverse City, MI

The Spring Splatter 5k is a race organized by the Traverse City Central Student Senate that benefits the Traverse Bay CAC. This is truly a unique race, with runners being covered in a powdered paint at each kilometer, ending with a craze of colors at the finish line. This is a fun run and racers will not be timed. For more information and to register for the race, click HERE!

For questions or more information about any of these events, please feel free to contact Hannah Rodriguez at or at (231) 929-4250.  We hope that you will take part in this important month and in the many events our community has organized in order to celebrate it.

CAP Month Ribbon

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Governors Task Force Seeks Information from General Public

The Governors Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children is seeking information from the general public in Michigan, including people who have direct experience with issues of child sexual abuse.  The information you provide in this survey will help the Task Force create recommendations for the Governor and the Legislature. The Survey deadline is April 2, 2015.


Click Here to Take the Survey


Thank you for your assistance with this important work to enhance safety and well-being for children and families in Michigan.

♥ And special thanks to Denise Busley, co-owner of Grand Traverse Pie Company, who serves on the Governors Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children.


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Community Prevention Seminar: Benzie County 12-03-14


December 4, 2014- Last night’s Community Prevention Seminar in Benzie County was very important to me.  As a native and current resident of Benzie County, I was very much looking forward to sharing this information with my home community and was looking forward to their support.  The Darcy Library of Beulah was kind enough to host this seminar and had a staff member volunteer to keep the library open for the evening so that we could have this important discussion.

Several Benzie County community members were in attendance (including some of my own family members!) and were very happy that the TBCAC had chosen to host a seminar in their own community.  As one of the more rural and outer-lying counties in the region, Benzie does not always have the same opportunities to receive the education and outreach that is available within Grand Traverse.

Many attendees stayed after to have conversations with me and to make suggestions about other groups within the Benzie County community that may benefit from a seminar like this.  I was very inspired by the conversation and enthusiasm of this particular group and it was great to feel that our efforts are being supported by many from my home community.  Our journey continues and we look forward to meeting all those willing to join the movement to protect our children!

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Community Prevention Seminar: Grand Traverse County 12/02/14

GT Seminar Group 12-02-13

December 3. 2014- As our home base and the community in which we currently have the greatest presence, I was looking forward to our Grand Traverse Community Prevention Seminar yesterday evening.  The staff at Traverse City Michigan WORKS! was kind enough not only to host us but also to volunteer to stay after hours so that we could put on this evening seminar.  We can not thank them enough for their hospitality.

I decided to open the seminar a little differently than I usually do and gave attendees the opportunity to share their motivation for attending if they wished to.  Everyone one in the room chose to share and to express how grateful they were to have something like this in the community.  There were educators, students, parents, and coaches present and while each had a unique reason for being there, they all shared the same ultimate goal: Keep kids safe and healthy.

This particular group had several questions regarding how our community is working to share this information with educators and medical professionals, and how we can do better with educating our children to understand their own bodies and boundaries.  While we at the TBCAC have started having these conversations with many educators and medical professionals, it is important to know that the community wants this as well.

As the seminar came to a close, conversations throughout the room continued and I watched many connections being made.  Thanks to the Grand Traverse Pie Company we were able to provide attendees at this seminar a “Free Slice of Pie” voucher and in exchange they all agreed to pose for the lovely photo you see above.  This evening provided another great conversation and a big step in our journey to protect our children.  Thank you again to Traverse City Michigan WORKS! for hosting and to all those who attended.

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Leelanau County: First to Host Community Seminar!

LC Gov Bldg

December 2, 2014-  As I prepared for our very first Community Prevention Seminar yesterday afternoon, I began to ask myself many questions.  I wondered who would come to the seminar, what questions they may ask, and what their motivation was for taking this opportunity to educate themselves about this issue.  I will admit, I was quite nervous that no one would show up, that they would remain quiet during discussion, and hoped that our first seminar would be a success.  What actually occurred exceeded all of my expectations.

Adults from across Leelanau County came to join us and had a lot of insight as to why it is so important to protect our kids.  It is so meaningful to us that so many people in our area are coming forward and are willing to join this movement and we are thrilled to begin this journey together.  The Leelanau County Government Center (pictured above) was willing to host us in their beautiful Community Meeting Room, which made for a very inviting space in which to come together and have a sincere dialogue about this issue.

As we wrapped up our session and I began putting things away, every attendee asked if they could assist me in any way and, despite my objections, proceeded to clean up, stack chairs, move tables, and help me carry all of my belongings out to my car so I did not have to be out in the parking lot alone.  “After all,” one participant stated, “if we are supposed to be keeping our kids safe, shouldn’t we be keeping each other safe, too?”  If this is not a true testament to the caring and compassion that exists in our region, I’m not sure what is.

I left this seminar inspired and energized, realizing that our community is ready to take this leap toward creating an environment where children are safe and nurtured so they may go on to live happy and productive lives. Many thanks again to Leelanau County for getting us off to a great start and we are looking forward to the seminars we have planned for other communities in the region!

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