Kicking off Child Abuse Prevention Month, the fourth annual Partners for Prevention Lunch and Learn was held on Friday, April 7, 2017 at The Mill Church (the former Pickens Mill Baptist Church/East Pickens Baptist Church location) on Woodrow Street in Pickens. Hosted by Behavioral Health Services, Pickens County Department of Social Services, Friends of Pickens County Guardian ad Litem, The Julie Valentine Center, The Parenting Place, Pickens County Advocacy Center, and Pickens County First Steps, the theme of the luncheon was “Empowering the Community to Prevent Child Abuse.” Community leaders were treated to a luncheon catered by the Parkette of Pickens.
Greta Young, Executive Director of The Parenting Place, noted the agencies that had sponsored the event, and then welcomed all of the attendees. “We are committed to actively raising the quality of life for every child,” she said. “We want all children, regardless of their circumstances, to achieve their full potential. Our task is to make that possible. Our mission is to provide practical step-by-step assistance. In 2016, there were 269 founded cases of child abuse and neglect and maltreatment in Pickens County. That’s 269 too many. With your help, we can reduce child maltreatment, improve the parent-child relationship, increase school readiness, promote childhood physical health and development, promote positive parenting, decrease childhood injuries.”
Faye Nichols, recently retired from Behavioral Health Services, gave the invocation and then recognized elected officials in attendance: Senator Rex Rice, Rep. Neal Collins, Rep. Gary Clary, Clerk of Court Pat Welborn, and Six Mile Mayor Roy Stoddard. She also noted two proclamations, one by Easley Mayor Larry Bagwell and one by Six Mile Mayor Roy Stoddard.
The Legislative Resolution Honorary Award was presented by the Pickens County Legislative Delegation to the family of Keith Frazier, Director of the State Department of Social Services offices in Pickens and Greenville, who passed away in January.
“On behalf of the Pickens County Delegation,” said Rep. Gary Clary, “we are pleased and honored to be able to present this resolution to the Frazier family, honoring and celebrating the great contributions and achievements that Keith made during his lifetime, helping the children of our state. Please accept this House Resolution as a small token of our appreciation of what he did in contributing to Pickens County and the State of South Carolina. It has been signed by Speaker Jay Lucas and each and every member of the House. Thank you very much for allowing us to participate today.”
House Resolution H3805 was introduced to the House and adopted by the House on February 21, 2017. It reads:
“A HOUSE RESOLUTION TO CELEBRATE THE LIFE OF KEITH A. FRAZIEROF GREENVILLE AND TO HONOR HIM ON BEING RECOGNIZED BY THE FRIENDS OF PICKENS COUNTY GUARDIAN AD LITEM FOR HIS TIRELESS CONTRIBUTIONSTO THE PROTECTION OF ABUSED CHILDREN THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER.
“Whereas, every year, the Friends of Pickens County Guardian ad Litem honors an individual who has worked tirelessly in the field of child abuse prevention. In April 2017, the Friends will culminate their annual observance of Child Abuse Prevention Kick‑off Week with a luncheon, during which this year’s honoree, the late Keith A. Frazier, will be recognized; and
“Whereas, Keith Frazier, SCDSS director of Region I, served for twenty five years in South Carolina state government. A 1998 graduate of Winthrop College, he commenced his career at Probation and Parole in York and Greenville counties. In 1996, he began as a workforce consultant for Greenville County DSS, serving there for two years; and
“Whereas, in 1998, Keith assumed the role of the Greenville County DSS business manager and managed a multitude of projects for both Greenville County and the State. In 2007, he was appointed interim county director for Pickens County, next serving as county director for five years. He returned to Greenville County DSS in 2011 as county director and served in that capacity until 2016, when he became regional director for Region I. This move gave him responsibility for Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, Oconee, Pickens, and Cherokee counties, as well as the regional Intake Hub and regional Foster Home and Licensing Support Unit; and
“Whereas, during his short time as regional director, Keith made several long‑lasting contributions to DSS. He strongly believed in “loving on staff” and telling them how important their work was to the families and children they serve and the agency. One of his first projects was to establish a regional trauma and support program, which gave each Region I county office a chaplain for support during times of crisis. This program has been a great success. Keith also launched supervisor summits, during which supervisors and other leadership in Region Ienjoyed training and networking. His desire to see leaders grow also encouraged Keith to start regional training for new supervisors to support them and help them develop relationships with fellow supervisors across the region; and
“Whereas, he loved seeing positive outcomes for children and families and was always striving to do better. Keith oversaw a number of projects he believed would help keep children safe and help children and families achieve permanency, such as case mining for children in foster care. His passion has left a lasting impact in his community, an impact increased by the numerous boards and councils on which he served, among them the First Steps Board (vice chair), Children Come First Development Council, Work Force Investment Board of Greenville County, Safe Kids Upstate, and Greenville Child Abuse Task Force; and
“Whereas, Keith Frazier, who unfortunately died on January 16, 2017, drew strength for his labors from the strong support of his family: his beloved wife of twenty‑three years, Charlotte Munnerlyn Frazier, and his lovely daughter, Victoria Blake Frazier. His loss is felt keenly by his family, colleagues, and friends; and
“Whereas, grateful for the legacy of consistent commitment and excellence he bestowed on this great State, the House counts it a privilege to salute Keith Frazier on being recognized for his outstanding service in child abuse prevention. Well done, good and faithful servant; you will be greatly missed. Now, therefore,
“Be it resolved by the House of Representatives:
“That the members of the South Carolina House of Representatives, by this resolution, celebrate the life of Keith A. Frazierof Greenville and honor him on being recognized by the Friends of Pickens County Guardian ad Litem for his tireless contributions to the protection of abused children throughout his career.
“Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be presented to Mrs. Charlotte Munnerlyn Frazier for the family.”
Robin Kubler, former Regional Director, South Carolina Department of Social Services, read a poem written in memory of Keith Frazier by his father. “Keith’s family asked me to read this poem, “Keith is Not Here”: “Who will love the little children now? Keith is not here. Who will stand up for the foster children now? Keith is not here. Who will protect the neglected children now? Keith is not here… Who will get up at 3 a.m. to find a young abused mother and her child a safe place to stay? Keith is not here. Who will stand up to take Keith’s place today? Keith is watching from heaven above. Who will guard and love and protect God’s poor abused and neglected children? Keith is watching and waiting to see. Who will be willing to take the call? Believe me, helping the children is not a job, it is a calling. I am sure God and Keith are meeting right now and searching for someone to take over. Money cannot make you do this. A doctorate degree will not prepare you. Someone will be assigned to do the job, but will someone be called to love the children? Keith had a special gift from God, and he used it every day……If you ever met him, you knew him, and if you knew him, you loved him. If you loved Keith, you must now love foster children.”
Shannon Lambert, Executive Director of Pickens County Advocacy Center, said, “We provide 24-hour sexual assault advocacy services for Pickens County, and sexual assault prevention education in our schools and community centers. We collaborate with the Julie Valentine Center, working with child sexual assault cases, providing the initial crisis management while the Julie Valentine Center provides a child advocacy center services. Collaboration is key in providing services for our child sexual abuse survivors. We thank all of our partners. Prevention of child sexual abuse is not possible without all of us working together to educate our community. April is both Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. To learn more about our agency and also the Julie Valentine Center, we encourage you to look at our websites and our Facebook pages.”
Gayle Vickery, Director of Pickens County Department of Social Services (DSS), said, “DSS is really honored to work alongside such strong partners in Pickens County.” She noted that, from June 2015 to June 2016 in Pickens County, there were 1,341 reported cases of abuse, 795 investigations and 284 found cases of abuse, and she pointed out that “prolonged stress and trauma in childhood” creates long-term effects. “When communities come together, we can make a difference in a child’s life. Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time for us to celebrate the good things that we do together in our community to support stronger families.”
Victoria Tate, Child Therapist with The Julie Valentine Center, introduced two speakers, clients of DSS and The Parenting Place, respectively, who shared their own life experiences and how they have turned their lives around.
Amity Buckner, Director of Pickens County First Steps, gave the closing remarks for today’s event. “The Parenting Place, as you have heard about today, provides services and support to prevent all forms of child abuse and neglect in the upstate of South Carolina, not just in Pickens County, but in Greenville and Anderson and Oconee. So, we are grateful for their work and their partnership, and we have confidence in their leadership as we move forward. They are truly on the frontline of child abuse prevention. We hope that you’ve been encouraged by the good work being done in Pickens County on behalf of abused and neglected children. Most of all, we hope you’re inspired to notice the everyday ways that we can all help prevent child abuse -- everyday ways like paying attention to the weary parent in Walmart, offering help and encouragement when that child is screaming, paying for somebody’s meal, donating your time and resources, giving a pat on the back to a weary parent. They all matter. Child Abuse America reminds us that anything you do to support kids and parents can help reduce the isolation and stress that often lead to abuse and neglect. As you strive to provide great childhoods for those in your own family, don’t neglect the great childhoods waiting to blossom all around you. Again, simple gestures matter.”
At the conclusion, each person took a pinwheel, which is a national symbol for child abuse prevention, and planted a ‘pinwheel garden’ at the sign for the church where the event was held.