Introducing our 2018/2019 Grant Partner: Mcmahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center



I believe that children need a voice and should be heard when they use it.
— Erin Yeager

Children have been given the gift of great power: they change lives, alter plans, move hearts, and send waves throughout humanity. As simple as it sounds, everyone alive was once a child. But this great power is coupled with great vulnerability. Five children die every day from abuse. That number is inexcusable. Children need to be seen, protected, and most importantly, heard.

The McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center is a beacon of light shining into dark places and offering hope. In response to the desperate need to provide safe spaces to abused and traumatized children, the center was founded in 1998 in Syracuse, New York, and for the past 20 years it has been able to provide care and intercession for over 6,000 children. Children no longer have to share their stories with multiple people and relive the trauma, but are able to find a safe, child-friendly haven in the center where their story is honored and carried delicately by a compassionate team of over 60 professionals.

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90% of the time an abused child knows who their abuser was. The children who are now finding safety and help in the center are there because someone either spoke up on their behalf, or listened and believed their stories. Understanding how to recognize and give voices to the children living in this trauma is crucial.

Director of Advocacy at The McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center, Erin Yeager, shared insight into the many facets of child abuse and how to identify it:  


“Abuse victims are identified many ways, but most often it is via disclosure or behaviors. Children often have a way of letting us know something is not quite right. Paying attention to changes in a child’s behavior, statements they make and having conversations about safety are important. However; the most important thing to remember when it comes to child victims who disclose abuse, is to believe what they tell you. Education and awareness are important because it will not always be a parent a child discloses to or who notices different behavior. Knowledge is power.”

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Knowledge is power.

Arm yourself with the tools needed to intercede, and join the center on its mission of preventing abuse and neglect, and powerfully intervening in children’s lives. They are restoring dignity and humanity to the youngest members of society and envision a day where children no longer have to fear abuse or exploitation. Through education, donations, volunteer opportunities, and being a daily advocate and safe place for the children around you, everyone can be involved in some way.

When asked why she chooses to be involved in the mission of the center, Yeager replied with words which I hope every reader can resonate with:

I care about this work because I love and believe in children. I believe that children need a voice and should be heard when they use it.
— Erin Yeager

She continued with how the center has personally impacted her own journey:

“I have been here long enough to see how our team wraps around a victim and their family to get them the help and support they need.  We connect families to resources. I have seen the relief in a parent’s face when they meet with our medical team through our CARE clinic.  

“I have seen a child’s face when they complete therapy services at our center through Vera House. I have seen a parent’s face when an offender is arrested and sentenced. I’ve seen children testify and read their victim impact statements in packed court rooms. All of those things feed my desire to continue this work every single day.”

Advocate courageously for those who have no voice. Those at the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center are restoring the power to children which was stripped away. They are listening to every word, validating every experience, and offering hope, and Dressember is proud and honored to have The McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center as a grant partner this year.


Raise your voice against slavery this December!

Commit to wearing a dress or tie every day in December. You'll challenge yourself, expand your knowledge on modern slavery, and be equipped to lead your community in the fight to end human trafficking. Registration is open for Dressember 2018 and fundraising has already started! Be a part of the impact for our local and global partners by creating your campaign page today!

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About the Author

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Myra Grady is honored to be using her love of writing this fall as she joins Dressember in their fight against human trafficking. She is pursuing an English degree through Thomas Edison State University, and currently enjoys her days as a preschool teacher. Outside of work, Myra can often be found exploring St. Louis with her husband, watching The Office reruns, eating far too much ice cream, and learning how to knit.