For nearly 30 years, St. Augustine Youth Services (SAYS) has provided thousands of hours of counseling, over one million home-cooked meals and more than 200,000 “tuck-ins” and “good nights.” A residential home for boys ages 6 through 18, who have experienced severe emotional trauma such as child abuse and neglect, it’s easy to see why this non-profit organization, located just off US Highway 1, is a true gem in our community.
On Saturday, April 2, St. Augustine Youth Services will celebrate the 3rd Annual Pinwheel Parade complete with free activities for kids, refreshments and helpful information for adults. The event is co-sponsored by Re/Max 100 Realty.
“Last year’s event drew nine community partners and we had between 125 and 150 attendees marching three laps around our campus,” says Robin Burchfield, Director of Development for SAYS. “We had face painting, temporary tattoos, a putting green, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office helicopter landed on the basketball courts and Winnie-the-Pooh and Clifford the Big Red Dog were in attendance.”
This year’s event, which is in conjunction with the national Million March Against Child Abuse being held in Washington, D.C. the same day, will include community participants like Betty Griffin House, Flagler College, First Tee of St. Johns County and Creekside High School’s Psychology Club.
“Growing up in St. Augustine with loving parents, child abuse was not something I was ever exposed to,” Burchfield admits. “It was not until I met Schuyler Siefker, SAYS Executive Director, and her amazing and caring staff that I was made aware of the enormity and severity of this crisis.”
Burchfield says that the number of children in foster care is staggering and the need for quality therapeutic residential care for children who have been traumatized by child abuse and/or severe neglect is increasing. Ways that the community can help St. Augustine Youth Services is through cash donations, the donation of gift cards or even items for the boys like toiletries, socks, underwear, batteries, school and cleaning supplies.
“While it is true that at-risk children should remain with their families, if at all possible, many children like the boys we serve at SAYS need more intensive treatment, including individual and group therapy each week, before they can be returned to the family,” says Burchfield. “We need to keep the safety and care of these children on the forefront of our state and national decision makers.”
Pinwheel Parade will take place on Saturday, April 2 from 10am to 11:30am at St. Augustine Youth Service’s Hutson Family Campus, 6624 US Highway 1 South, next to the Southeast Branch Library.
If you are unable to attend the event, but would like to learn more about SAYS, contact Robin Burchfield at [email protected] or 904-829-1770, or visit sayskids.org.