Roof Sit Continues Fundraising Efforts, Raising Awareness For Child Abuse

Roof Sit Continues Fundraising Efforts, Raising Awareness For Child Abuse

KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — The 23rd annual Roof Sit event was taking place May 20-22, 2021 to support programs for child victims of sexual and severe physical abuse.

“To get the word out, to educate people, to have an event like this, to reach other people so they know what to look for, how to respond to it, and get help for other people, that’s the goal of Roof Sit and Community Healing Centers," Mike Pioch, Interim CEO of Community Healing Centers, said.

Pioch said child abuse and neglect are more common than people realize, with 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls falling victim.

“In the Kalamazoo area, we see over 300 kids for forensic interviews so that’s kind of the starting point with kids who have been victimized in some way and that’s just scratching the surface- there are many more situations like this we don’t know about," Pioch said.

Community Healing Centers leaders said there are 13 cases of child abuse or neglect reported every day in Kalamazoo County alone.

“This is an anti-stigma event," Pioch said. "Over the years, we’ve had people come to us and said this happened to me five, ten, twenty years ago and its been a secret. We can provide help for people like that if they need services for some kind of treatment.”

Many fear child abuse and neglect numbers have increased in the last year due to COVID-19.

“All the research is showing right now during COVID, they think those numbers have gone up because people are not in school, they’re at home more, they are in the care of people that they don’t know as well," Pioch said. "The concern now is this is worse now than it was.”

Roof Sit has set a goal of $80,000 this year. Pioch said their services are free to families, offering help for both kids and parents.

“It goes to support therapists that see these kids and families," Pioch said. "We have two therapists, a forensic interviewer, and other staff who work with kids so we link families with services they need.”

Pioch said it's important to address victims as soon as possible.

“Trauma is a really big issue for people, especially when they don’t deal with it over time," he said. "It can affect them later on in life and sometimes when kids are victimized when they are young, it may not come back to them or they may not realize it until they are teenagers.”

People can make donations on-site, online, or at any of the events taking place throughout the weekend.

Schedule of events:

Thursday, May 20

  • 8 a.m.–8 p.m.: On-site donations
  • 9 a.m.–8 p.m.: Tips for kids at local Shell Gas stations.
  • 6 p.m.–8 p.m.: Celebration dinner & auction at the corner of Westnedge and Milham Avenues in Portage. Event organizers said the event will feature Kalamazoo’s famous Food Truck Rally, live music, the Kalamazoo Corvette Club, and a live and online silent auction.

Friday, May 21

  • 8 a.m.–8 p.m.: On-site donations
  • 9 a.m.–8 p.m.: Tips for kids at local Shell Gas stations.
  • 5 p.m.–7 p.m.: Ice cream and activities for kids at the corner of Westnedge and Milham Avenues in Portage

Saturday, May 22

  • 8 a.m.–3 p.m.: On-site donations
  • 9 a.m.–3 p.m.: Tips for kids at local Shell Gas stations
  • 9 a.m.–10 a.m.: Parent & Me Yoga. Event organizers said the event is recommended for kids ages 5-12, accompanied by an adult. Individuals should bring a mat, towel or blanket to sit on.
  • 10 a.m.-noon: Woof Sit with the SPCA of Southwest Michigan and the annual puppy pile.

Lexie Petrovic