Exchange Club runs child abuse prevention project Saturday

Jamie Rowe, Copy Editor

Exchange Club (EC) chapters across the nation will be handing out tips for better parenting and how to shop with children, Saturday. The Long Beach chapter will be at the Wal-Mart on Carson Street in the Long Beach Towne Center, according to chapter Secretary Zita Roehrig.
The handouts are part of the organization’s national project to prevent child abuse.
“The tip cards for better parenting include general helpful tips for parents,” EC Communications Director Michelle Mazzei said. “The shopping tips include some common sense, but maybe parents didn’t think of it before, such as eating before leaving or keeping the trips short.
“Fifty percent of the clubs and members from all over the country are doing the project at the same time,” Mazzei said. “For the West Coast it will be from 10 a.m. to noon…The different chapters come together to respond to their communities.” Twenty-eight chapters in California will be participating.
In addition to the parenting pamphlets, EC will be handing out blue ribbons, the symbols for child abuse prevention, as part of Believe in Blue. “Blue represents the bruises of battered children,” Roehrig said.
Believe in Blue is the EC’s national child abuse prevention project. The 47-statewide service organization believes in preventing child abuse.
Each chapter acts as a counterbalance to government agencies, which often can only respond after the abuse has occurred, Mazzei said.
“This has been the national program for Exchange Club since the ’80s,” Roehrig said. “This has been highly successful for over 20 years.”
Families are sent to EC, whenever possible, through government agencies, for many reasons, such as recommendations from the court system for first-time offenders, or situations where abuse is likely to occur or has not yet, Mazzei said. A parent aid model works with the family, teaching the parents better skills for managing frustrating situations that can at times lead to child abuse.
“Sometimes you have a young mother with three kids who doesn’t know how to correct their behavior without hitting,” Roehrig said. “Sometimes it’s just nice having someone to talk to. Mom could be frustrated because the kids are crying, there’s no food in the house, she needs to apply for welfare, but doesn’t have a car to get to the office, but once she does gets there, they give her more paperwork to fill out and tell her to return. It’s very difficult but a parent aid helps make the situation easier.” The parent aid model becomes a member of the family in many cases.
EC focuses on Americanism, youth and other service projects, along with the child abuse prevention project, according to Mazzei.
“Americanism isn’t political,” she said. “It’s about patriotism, pride in the country.” Another part of this program are freedom shrines with replicas of important documents from American history, including the Gettysburg Address and Constitution.
The youth aspect is covered with scholarships and various activities that overlap, Mazzei said.
The final, catch-all category participates in activities like honoring police and fire departments, helping seniors, organizing park clean ups, and volunteering with Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity.
Long Beach’s EC chapter is a satellite of Downey’s Child Abuse Prevention Center. The Exchange Club Family Support Center is located at 1032 Suite B, Redondo Avenue. For additional information or to report a family in need of a parent aid, call (562) 434-6899.