"After five years of nurturing, founders Neal and Linda Hooberman hand over the reins to the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation"
June 25, 2008 · Updated 11:44 AM
"Photo: Neal and Linda Hooberman, shown here with daughter Julie Evans, top right, and son John Hooberman, bottom left, founded Whidbey Island's Child Abuse Prevention Foundation six years ago. This April, during Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Awareness month, they will hand over the reins of the eminently successful program to a new president and board of directors.April activities will Honor Our Children Whidbey Island's Child Abuse Prevention Foundation, Inc., keeps busy year-round, but a variety of special events are planned for April, national Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Awareness Month.The local Honor Our Children campaign includes: * April 9-15: Sexual assault awareness week* April 12, 4-5 p.m.: Open house at In a Pinch, South Whidbey Community Crisis and Respite Child-Care Center, Clinton* April 20: CADA Take Back the Night march * April 23-29: TV turn-off week* April 29, 11 a.m.: March against child abuse in the Holland Happening parade, Oak Harbor* April 30: Honor Our Children SundayIt's been just over five years since Neal and Linda Hooberman, retired from a California business and newly arrived in Freeland, discovered the extent of Whidbey Island's child abuse and neglect cases. They also learned that there was zero awareness of the problem in the general populace.The average person had no knowledge of it, Linda Hooberman said. They knew nothing of the issue, and didn't understand what the issue was.It was, the Hoobermans said, a huge community barrier to overcome.Today, Linda said, if nothing else, a vast majority know there is an issue. There has been a real shift.One of the major players in that transformation has been the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation, founded in 1994 by Neal and Linda Hooberman.Between then and now, CAPF has worked with local business people, social service experts, and committed volunteers to raise awareness of child abuse and ways to prevent it, educating community leaders as well as parents about prevention issues, supporting at-risk and abused children, and raising over $140,000 for local programs that work actively to prevent child abuse. It was a full time commitment, Linda said. We had total focus. We worked 60 to 80 hours a week, with no time off, no family trips. I never had time for even a haircut, walking around with that long grey ponytail!The Hoobermans didn't realize how consuming their undertaking would become. It was so necessary, there was no way to let it go if we wanted to make it the living, viable entity it is now, Linda said. The Hoobermans found that the people in the social service field were overwhelmed with the enormity of their task. There were just not enough resources. It was pretty overwhelming, Neal said.CAPF became a chunk of the answer. It secured private money and volunteer resources. Its board is made up of half women and half men, with the basic requirement that each member be able to bring some resource to the organization, whether as business or a community leader.The foundation brought people to the table from opposite ends of the political and philosophical spectrum as well as the north and south ends of the Island.Our supporters ranged from John Graham, of Citizens for Sensible Development, to Barney Beeksma, who worked with the religious community, Neal said. People began to recognize that it is not a political issue, it is a child issue: that all children should be uniformly protected and raised in a nurturing environment, Linda said.CAPF's first major project was a free, eight-page resource guide known as the green sheet, an exhaustive listing of organizations and agencies on Whidbey Island which target abuse, domestic violence, family needs, housing, senior services, schools, and child abuse prevention, among other subjects.We distributed it to the sheriff, to schools, to agencies, Linda said. CAPF lent significant support to the DSHS (Department of Social and Health Services).It's the main frontline organization. It has the most money and resources and handles the largest number of abused kids through its CPS (Child Protective Services) unit, Neal Hooberman said. CAPF provided programs designed for prevention, which is its main focus.Those programs are myriad. Among them:*Interview rooms with a residential atmosphere for assault victims. Children and adult victims are met in a supportive environment rather than a cold, jail-like interview space.*Funding in the amount of $26,000 for hospital equipment to examine sexual assault victims. *Scholarships to summer camp for children identified by social workers and family advocates -- it could be a computer class or recreation camp. Many of them have never participated in camp, or may just need a respite from their home situation, to enjoy a week in a healthy camping environment, while their parents are relieved of some of the stress of summer. Sometimes CAPF funds camp fees; other requests may simply be for tennis shoes, a flashlight, a bathing suit or decent underwear.*A kids book collection that garnered more than 5,000 volumes, filling a three-bedroom guest cottage at the Hoobermans' home.*Impact Roundtable, an annual meeting of all the island's mayors, law enforcement chiefs, school superintendents and major business leaders.*The convocation of churches, training sessions for the clergy on the laws pertaining to child abuse and neglect. There are about 60 churches on the island, and only three or four refused to participate, Linda said.*The bicycle program, which provides a bicycle (reconditioned if necessary) plus a helmet and a lock to any child who needs one.*The Better Birthday Club, providing gifts to a child in foster care or another at risk situation.*The annual golf tournament, CAPF's biggest fund raiser.Over the five years, CAPF has put approximately $250,000 into the Whidbey community. And about one-third of the money has been raised on the Island.That's allowed us to bring in new money we wouldn't have been able to get without showing community support, Linda said.CAPF's efforts have had a ripple effect, the Hoobermans said. The organization has been recognized statewide by other social service agencies, and was cited in Lt. Gov. Brad Owen's publication, Take a Page From Our Book, which lists organizations that are working to make their small corner of the world a better place to live. The article highlighted CAPF and volunteer Jackie Schell, who mends and and then recycles teddy bears for underprivileged children. I think you would be hard pressed today to find any social service club or agency that has not donated something, not done something in the cause of child abuse prevention, Linda said. There are so many things going on now. There are lots of people doing lots of things today. It's heartwarming. They've really passed us by.The Hoobermans feel little regret at moving away from their oversight of the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation.I feel fabulous, Linda said. I believe we really gave everything we had to give.Now there need to be professional people in charge, she said.We have a wonderful executive director in Robin Hertlein -- it took us two years to find her. We have the strongest board, and a new president in Michal Cann of Whidbey Island Bank. On what better terms could you hand something over? The office of the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation is located in Freeland at 1635 E. Main, unit A-7. For information about CAPF call 360-331-7343, toll free 877-331-7343; or visit the Web site www.whidbey.com/child.Whidbey Island children and abuseHelping parents before trouble starts is one good way to stop child abuse, say experts in the field. And help is needed.Here's a statistical look at abuse and neglect on Whidbey Island:* Last year, 1,342 reports of child abuse on Whidbey Island were recorded by Child Protective Services in Oak Harbor. CPS investigated 565 cases, up by 25 percent from 1998. * A total of 108 children were taken from their homes, down 30 percent from a year ago. In addition to children reported abused or neglected, 313 children were served by Family Reconciliation Services and 54 were assisted by Child Welfare Services.* Reports come from every part of the island: - 38 percent are from Oak Harbor - 8 percent are from Coupeville - 1 percent are from Greenbank - 20 percent are from Freeland - 25 percent are from Langley - 8 percent are from Clinton* Child neglect accounts for 60 percent of cases reported; 8 percent are sexual abuse cases.* 72 percent of families in child abuse/neglect cases also experience adult domestic abuse. Source: The Child Abuse Prevention Foundation Inc.CAPF names new presidentMichal Cann, president and CEO of Whidbey Island Bank, has been named the new president of the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation (CAPF), succeeding co-founder Neal Hooberman, the organization's president since its inception. Cann has been a CAPF board member and treasurer. He is currently involved with the Whidbey Island Hospital Foundation, Island County Historical Society, and Rotary of Oak Harbor, and is a director of the Washington Bankers Association. Although stepping down as president, Hooberman said he plans to continue as an active member of the CAPF board of directors."