This picture might be the only evidence showing that Executive Director of the Children’s Center, Rhonda Wurgler, is capable of sitting still. Of course, she only sat still for a moment, because we were soon off and running again on our tour of the new Children’s Center location.
Rhonda’s passion for her job is evident in the pride she takes as she describes each aspect of the new and more spacious center. Downstairs, we toured four beautiful playrooms set up for foster visitation. Last year they supervised 600 visits ranging from foster families to “kinship” situations, in which a relative has taken in a child who has been put in foster care. Upstairs, we viewed the staff offices, a medical room, and a safe room complete with cameras and sound proofing, where children can tell their stories to trained adults.
Prepare yourself for this next bit of information, because it isn’t easy to hear: the Center has helped over 1000 children who have been sexually abused since 2011. It’s not great to find out how vital a center like this is in your own community. We cannot ignore the fact that sexual abuse and human trafficking exist in Medina County. “You don’t see it because these children are groomed to hide it,” Rhonda told me. “Sex abuse is secretive.”
My next question showed how naïve I was when it came to this topic: “If we have so many situations involving human trafficking, how come I am not aware of these children going missing?” Rhonda told me human trafficking can happen to a child in their own home. “Human trafficking is any time someone is using sex to get money or services. A parent can traffic a child for drugs or rent money. Live-in help can be trafficked. Siblings can traffic other siblings.” It was eye-opening.
Thank goodness there are people like Rhonda Wurgler. Rhonda believes that every child has a right to a happy childhood, especially a childhood without abuse. She also believes that a community has a responsibility to be a safe, nurturing place for its young people. The Children’s Center is a safe haven for those who find a way to come forward and get help. Child abuse is a layered situation, consequently, social workers, medical staff, law enforcement, and other knowledgeable personnel are needed to literally and figuratively wrap their arms around children and give them the protection needed.
You may be wondering: how does this Wonder Woman relax? She has a “work hard, play hard” attitude. Her son is going to be a freshman in high school this year, and she intends on running for the school board in Cloverleaf. “I have no agenda, I just want to help kids.” She and her husband enjoy motorcycling. I know this because I stalk her occasionally on Facebook and see her posing proudly with her Indian Scout. “It’s part of my self-care,” she revealed. I told her that with a 13 year-old, self-care is a necessity.
As we ended our tour of the Children’s Center, we saw Anna Guy-Leach, Development Director of the Children’s Center, Signature Class ’02, in her office. “Wait until you see the backyard after we get the play area done,” Rhonda mentioned. “That comes to us from the Westfield Foundation, right?” she asked Anna. Anna verified it was. It just goes to show that where talented and giving people are needed, you will find Leadership Medina County graduates.
Rhonda brought her passion to Leadership when she became a member of the Signature Class of 2015. She is eager to be an active participant on the board and, no surprise, is interested in helping out with Junior Leadership. The Leadership Board and Junior Leadership are so excited to have such a tireless advocate like Rhonda Wurgler join the team. We look forward to her input and her energy. Welcome, Rhonda!
Victim Advocate-Child Hotline: 330 661 0800
The Children’s Center happily accepts donations.
Please reach out to Melissa Hutchison at 330.764.8891 or email@example.com