How Being a Friend Transforms Trauma: One Board Member’s Story

Posted on May 13th 2022

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How Being a Friend Transforms Trauma: One Board Member’s Story

The Friends of the Salt Lake County Children’s Justice Center supports the Salt Lake County Children’s Justice Center through program support funding and awareness. This is all done to bolster the Friend’s mission to empower child victims and their families to transform trauma to resilience. We were fortunate enough this week to interview Colby Wilcock who is both the President of the Friends Board of Directors and a person with lived experience. Here is his account of what being a “Friend” means in his life and how it helped him transform his trauma into resilience.

Interviewer: How did you come to know the Children’s Justice Center?

Colby: I came to know the Children’s Justice Center, because I was somebody who had to use their services when I was around 10 years old. I was abused by a friend of our family and for a long time, I really didn’t want to tell anybody. I worked up the courage to tell my parents who then went to the police. One of the officers who was assigned to my case was actually a good family friend. Because of our connection, he didn’t want to be the one to do the interview, so he connected us with my local Children’s Justice Center. I remember being really scared when I got there on the day of my interview. I knew I was going to be talking to a police officer and I was really nervous about the whole thing. When I entered, though, I immediately felt more comfortable. Somehow the place seemed familiar. There were toys, stuffed animals, soft couches, and had an essence of comfortability which made me feel safe. During my interview, the staff and the police officer asked questions about my experience. They didn’t assume, they didn’t lead, and they didn’t judge. They asked curious questions which allowed me to share my perspective and tell my entire story. They never looked at me or treated me differently. At the time, I didn’t fully understand the weight of that, but in hindsight, there was power in me sharing my experience and having ownership of the way I told my story.

Interviewer: Thank you so much for your sharing that experience. Did your experience influence you to become part of the Friends Board of Directors?

Colby: Well, actually, a couple of years ago near the end of the year, I was the new guy in a local networking group. I found out that this group chose to sponsor a nonprofit every year and that year they had chosen the Children’s Justice Center. At the time, I didn’t directly correlate my experience with the group, but when Susanne, the Director of the Salt Lake County Children’s Justice Center, came to present and receive the donation, memories and emotions came flooding back to me. I started having a discussion with the then-Board President who asked if I could utilize my marketing agency to help create a website for the Friends nonprofit. I was thrilled to help! After that project was done, I was asked to join the Board of Directors as the marketing chair and I helped oversee the marketing efforts for about 6 months. When the Board President’s term came to an end and the new President needed to be voted in, I was nominated and ultimately asked to serve in that new capacity. At the time and really to this day, really, I feel inadequate to serve in this position. Our Board is made up of exceptionally talented members of our community who each would have made an amazing President. But, the Friends is an amazing organization serving a program that I have a lot of love and passion for. So, against my better judgment, I said yes and I have been doing my best to use that passion and vigor to support the Friends as the Board President since October of 2022.

Interviewer: You have done an amazing job so far and I know we are all grateful for your leadership. With that in mind, what, to you, does it mean to be a Friend?

Colby: I believe a friend is someone that can be counted on - in good times and bad. Someone who will push you to do your best and reach your potential. They’re someone you can trust and that will be honest with you even when it’s hard. And that they are there to cheer you on as you work to overcome any challenges you’re facing.

Interviewer: I absolutely agree. How do you feel that applies to the Friends nonprofit?

Colby: I think the biggest way that applies to the Friends is this: as a Board and as a Friend to the Children’s Justice Center, our organization has a responsibility to help bring into the worlds of child victims the people, resources, and experiences needed to transform trauma into something powerful. We do this by providing ongoing and consistent support in the form of donations and awareness so that the CJC has what they need to provide services.

Interviewer: In thinking of transforming trauma into something more powerful, how do the Friends empower child victims to transform trauma into resilience?

Colby: The Friends do this for the CJC by raising funds and using those funds to support programs and experiences that help the child transform trauma into resilience. These funds are used to fund critical staff positions and training, client emergency funds for families who need help stabilizing after a crisis, educational booklets, furniture for the meeting rooms to make sure the process is comfortable, and so much more! The things the Friends help fund truly make a difference in the experience of the child so that they can find hope, healing, and justice.

Interviewer: As you know, we’re in the middle of our “what it means to be a friend” campaign. Why is this important to you and the organization?

Colby: To this point, there hasn’t been a great deal of clarity about the partnership and differences between the Friends nonprofit and the Children’s Justice Center program. The Children’s Justice Center program is where the children receive the direct services they need to navigate the justice system in a safe and comfortable manner. The program is considered to be a public-private partnership, meaning they receive some funding from the government and some money from the community. This is where the Friends come in. The Friends nonprofit’s purpose is to fund resources, tools, positions, and experiences to make that experience as positive and empowering as possible. So while we are not the CJC program, we are a Friend who helps provide consistent support. And when community members are ready to be Friends to child victims in our community, as well, they can donate to the Friends nonprofit to directly support the amazing Children’s Justice Center program at https://cjcslc.org/ways-to-support/donate.

We will be sharing more stories like Colby’s on our social media over the next couple of months. To make sure you don’t miss them, follow us on Instagram at @friendsofcjcslco!