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Week 7: ChildSavers

Dear Batter Up readers,

Meet the staff at ChildSavers, with CEO L. Robert Bolling front and center, proudly holding his cake. (And what a beautiful view of the city right outside of the office!)

This was a pretty fun, inspiring, and humbling week. I call it, the week of the press. In the last (roughly) 80 hours, I have been interviewed by Kat Simons at Lite 98 which will air Sunday morning (August 18) at 7 am in the community program on most Richmond area Clear Channel stations; I had an incredible article written about Batter Up by RVA News that can be found here; I was interviewed by Greg McQuade at Channel 6 News on Virginia This Morning, which can be found here; and Richmond Magazine included me in their food news for August 15. If that weren’t enough, I had a great photo shoot with Tyler Darden Photography and Into It Events on Thursday. So, as I’m sure you can imagine, I was swamped and as of the middle of the week I was still unsure of who was getting battered. A couple of ideas came up, but scheduling is often an issue and I just couldn’t get things planned out. Then, as the news of Batter Up started to spread, nominations started to roll in. One of the very first was Heather Orrock, the Annual Fund and Event Manager at ChildSavers. She wanted to nominate her co-workers and, as soon as I checked out their website, I knew that I had to give these people some cake.

ChildSaver’s has three specific areas that they focus on when it comes to fulfilling their mission of offering comprehensive mental health and childhood development services to children and their guardians throughout Central Virginia, regardless of ability to pay. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, trauma response allows a trained professional to be on the scene of a traumatic event to counsel children within 15-30 minutes after receiving a call. The guidance clinic offers outpatient therapy and psychiatric services to children and adolescents, age 2 through 17. And finally, the child development services allow early childhood specialists to provide a broad range of support services to adults who care for and educate preschool children.

Upon arriving to their office in the old WRAR building in Churchill, I was quickly greeted by Heather. I waited and chatted as people started to gather in the lobby and, before I knew it, I was surrounded by about 20 people—definitely the biggest crowd to date. I had no idea so many people would be there and I immediately started to worry that this little loaf cake wasn’t going to be enough. As the last of the employees trickled in, I explained who I was and what I was doing and, as usual, there were lots of smiles and confused faces. We all agreed that a group picture was in order and, with a backdrop like that, who could resist? We snapped a few pictures and back inside we went for cake. Luckily the cake held out and everyone who wanted some got a small piece. As the party broke up, Heather offered to give me a tour of the facility.

As we walked around, I was immediately struck by the interior design and artwork. She said the interior had been done by Baskervill (makes sense—their work is always stunning) and they had a group of very passionate art curators in charge of the art collection (which was phenomenal!) That naturally led to a conversation about the role of art in their therapy programs. One of the guiding principles at ChildSavers is that “art and play are a child’s natural language.” As I contemplated the profundity of that statement, I was led into the sandbox room. (Picture number 3—you know, the one that you were probably confused about when you first scrolled through the gallery.) This was probably my favorite part of the tour. In this room, children are given the opportunity to build scenes in the sandbox with miniature elements. The fact that all of the elements are miniature allows the child to convey scenarios in a small scale through play, thereby allowing them to communicate their problems. Heather shared some of the results of this therapy and I was almost numb. What a remarkable program and group of people. Soon after the sandbox room, we wrapped up the tour and I was on my way.

This is a truly inspiring organization and I’m so glad that Heather brought her team to my attention. If you’re interested in supporting ChildSavers, they have a gallery event happening at Glave Kocen gallery on October 25 & 26, 2013. Proceeds from the sales go to ChildSavers.

And now, for the cake. This week was a Toasted Coconut Pound Cake from a blog called Little Bits Of… (recipe found here). As I’ve mentioned before, I typically make a test cake each week, and this week was no exception. What I haven’t mentioned is that my brother is my roommate and he is often sitting on the couch watching TV while I’m baking. He has witnessed countless cake bakings at this point and, with this last cake, he declared to me that he wants to start his own blog—Living With Batter Up. He’ll give the inside scoop on all of the cursing that is muttered as I hunt down rogue egg shells in the cake batter and try to hide the fourth pan of burnt coconut, despite the cloud of smoke coming from the oven. And that lopsided cake on TV? Nope. Not intentional.

It’s not pretty behind the scenes here, folks.