Child abuse is a reality that the Children’s Advocacy Center of North & Northwest Community confronts with concern, compassion and considerable assistance from local community leaders, IBEW 134 included.
CAC provides a safe haven for victims of child abuse — a place where law enforcement, child welfare professionals and similar concerns coordinate their efforts to assist children, so they aren’t traumatized and confused by multiple interrogations.
Union members, including IBEW President Gary Niederkorn, have donated their time and expertise to CAC since 1993, when it relocated from a municipal basement in Hanover Park to a freestanding facility in Hoffman Estates, albeit one requiring substantial renovations to provide the home-like environment CAC envisioned.
"I remember going over there with six or so of my buddies to help out carpenters, plumbers and other trades, as well as assist in performing electrical upgrades," Niederkorn recalls. "We just wanted to make sure the building was safe. Once it opened, we wanted to do what we could do to keep it up and running."
"The building was in fairly poor repair," says CAC Executive Director Mark Parr. "IBEW was one of a handful of groups that came in and made it child-friendly and safe. We wanted the center to be a healing place for abused children." Donations by IBEW and others were recognized by President George H.W. Bush’s "Points of Light Program."
In ensuing years, Niederkorn and his colleagues have been unflagging in their support, says Parr, who elaborates that IBEW not only provides substantial financial support to CAC, but expends effort to upgrade or repair lighting, life-safety systems and the like when the occasion warrants. "Members have even come out to support our fund raising efforts, whether they be dinner dances or golf tournaments," says Parr. "That includes setting up and operating refreshment stands at our events. They’ve donated countless hours to perform countless amounts of work."
Most recently, IBEW contributed the manpower required to provide CAC with new phones and a new communications center, says Niederkorn, who served on the organization’s board for nearly a decade before being appointed to the position of honorary board member.
Niederkorn remains modest about his contributions and the contributions of his colleagues. "We’re happy to be involved," he says. "There was a time when I didn’t realize places like this existed. It’s a terrible thing they do — a terrible thing but also a good thing."