I became one of the founders of the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation in 1981 (later renamed Promises2Kids.org) after hearing about the shocking statistics of many children who were placed in the child protective system due to abuse, abandonment, and neglect. I wanted to do what I could to help at risk children so they might have a better chance to succeed in life. One day, Rob Butterfield, one of our three founding members, asked if I would help them set up an emergency baby food fund account. After finding out more about the Foundation and its numerous programs for at risk youth, I volunteered, and with my heart and soul, I’m still involved today.

For me, the idea of children not having enough to eat and many of the children living in families who had been identified as ‘at risk’ for child abuse and abandonment was one of the primary motives for becoming involved in the Foundation. Further, touring the overcrowded receiving home in Hillcrest for abused and abandoned children back in the 1980’s was a shocking eye-opener, especially hearing the many reasons of how and why the children had to be placed in protective care.

It soon became apparent, though, that I was also trying to deal with my own pain from a very, very difficult childhood. I related all too easily with the population we were serving. My three brothers and I grew up in the 1950’s, in a home where we suffered many types of abuse. There wasn’t reporting in those days and we had no options to make things better. If the abuse we suffered was happening today, we would have been sent to live with relatives or put in foster care. All three of my brothers, two younger and one a year older, were ill-equipment to live productive, healthy and happy adult lives. Sadly, all three died much too young…two in their 40’s and one in his early 50’s. Somehow, I survived, probably because I had to become the “mother/parent in my family”. Counseling, education, good mentors in my adult life and a supportive husband have helped me live a happy and productive life.

What I am most proud of today is how Promises2Kids has evolved, from the earliest years of funding innovative programs to help identify and stop child abuse through community outreach and educational awareness programs, to raising more than $13 million in the late 1980’s to fund the building of the Polinsky Children’s Center. Two other special projects near and dear to me include the funding of $5 million to help start the San Pasqual Academy, a year round residential high school for foster youth, and the building of Mary’s House, a program to provide a safe home for former foster women transitioning from the child protective system to independent living.

Today I am very proud that the Foundation has developed and sustained several worthwhile and results driven programs including Guardian Scholars, Camp Connect and other innovative programs.

Renée Comeau