Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Bear's Tale - Chapter One

When you are little and alone, abused and neglected, going to court and listening to adults and strangers fight over you can be very scary -- even if everyone is trying to protect you.

In an effort to bring a moment of joy to the most vulnerable of boys and girls in such traumatic times, the judges of Miami-Dade County gifted them with a bear. The furry friends made an unbearable situation a little brighter and elicited smiles and hope.

But this year, because of severe budget cuts, the dollars given to the courts to buy the bears were cut in half. So the Chief Judge of the Juvenile Court, the "Mama Bear", the Honorable Cindy Lederman, was very sad. Then one day, she met CBS4's Chief Investigative Reporter Michele Gillen, the "Curious Bear." The Judge told Michele the story of the soon-to-be missing bears.

The tale prompted Michele to imagine a world where, at minimum, all the hurt children could get the bears they needed. She had met many of these little ones who, for their own safety, had to be taken from their parents. Many waited years dreaming of being adopted.

"Adopted!" she thought. And so the idea of the Adopt-a-Bear campaign was born. She turned to a family of heroes, who were living right in her TV station, the non-profit group called Neighbors 4 Neighbors. Together with CBS4 News, they came up with a "rescue-the-bears" plan, so that judges and children's advocates no longer have to fear their bear shelves will be bare.

We invite everyone to join in and be a "Bear Ambassador." In particular, we invite children and young people to lead this campaign. Those who receive their adopted bear will know that it came from the heart and hands of another youngster -- bridging worlds, and in the gift of a bear, build a better one.

This is a story we will be writing together as a community. As we close out Chapter One, we can only hope for a Happy Ending.

With a full heart - Your forever "Curious Bear" - Michele Gillen

No comments: