Project Unity: Jeanie McGuire’s Dream for the Love and Safety of Children

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By Dawn Lee Wakefield

Keeping children and families safe, together, is our duty. Project Unity offers education, training, hope and a safe harbor as parents learn how to proactively prevent child abuse before it happens.
— Jeannie McGuire

The Brazos Valley community focuses on a matter of national importance in April — Child Abuse Prevention Month. Of all the issues that can unite people for a good cause, protecting our community’s children is key. Yet, many misperceptions abound about the topic. Child abuse is not a problem confined to a single socioeconomic class or group. In fact, families from least to most affluent encounter situations where children can be abused — physically, verbally, and emotionally.

Not everyone who brings a child into the world understands how to be a parent. Nor do they know when to ask for help or where to turn. Enter Jeannie McGuire. For 22 years now, McGuire has brought child abuse prevention to a new level of attention in the work of Project Unity in three key programs. “Children, ages 0 to 17, need nurturing; they need to know their parents are strong, are there for them, and will provide a safe home,” McGuire says.

Citing research from the latest Prevention Resource Guide (childwelfare.gov), McGuire notes that some of the greatest risk factors for child abuse/neglect are: “immaturity, unrealistic expectations, stress, substance use, intergenerational trauma and isolation.” Without ongoing presence and support from family and adults, being a new parent can be overwhelming. The costs of feeding, clothing, and keeping a child clean, warm, and safe are exorbitant if you don’t have the budget for it. That’s where community agencies such as Project Unity become an invaluable resource.

“I created Project Unity to give parents a central resource place where they could learn in a protective safe place how to parent,” McGuire says. “We have three programs in place that meet these needs: Texas Families Together and Safe, the HOPES initiative, and Safe Harbor.” In the past two decades, McGuire and Project Unity have received national, statewide, and local honors for their effective outcome.

“I’m truly blessed to have the interest, commitment and contributions of the time and talents of each of our board members,” McGuire says. “They spend hours no one sees, behind the scenes, making our goals their personal mission. For example, through their Lighthouse project, BB&T took on renovating our Safe Harbor visitation room for parents and children as their chosen community initiative. Bank management and staff participated during work hours on their own initiative, even more special — painting, refurbishing, and joyfully redoing the area, which had greatly needed attention. It was a critical need they met.

“Keeping children and families safe, together, is our duty,” McGuire continues. “Project Unity offers education, training, hope, and a safe harbor as parents learn how to proactively prevent child abuse before it happens.”

Project Unity board members include President Don Burback, Vice President Danielle Fifer, Secretary Cassie Bobbitt, Treasurer Bobby Williamson, Mike Bowers, Dick Haddox, Chuck Hermann, Jeannie McGuire, Paul Shaffer, Jason Cornelius, Rusty Surette, and Mike Connor.

Three key programs frame the genesis of Project Unity’s impact in the community: Texas Families Together and Safe, Healthy Outcomes Through Prevention and Early Supports, and Safe Harbor Co-Parenting and Supervision Visitation Center. Each of these areas focus on child abuse prevention. Go to projectunitytx.org to learn more or call (979) 595-2900.

Thanks to Co-Chairs Danielle Fifer and Cassie Bobbitt, the community can help celebrate Project Unity in their first fundraising event at The Stella Hotel in Bryan, Saturday, May 6, at 6pm. All proceeds will continue and extend local program outreach.

All You Need is Love
Benefit Event for Project Unity at The Stella Hotel
On Saturday, May 6, Project Unity, Brazos Valley’s own nationally recognized family focused nonprofit, will debut a signature special event, “All You Need is Love.” From 6pm to 11pm in the Grand Ballroom of The Stella Hotel in Bryan, highly acclaimed Beatles 60s tribute band, THE FAB FIVE, will entertain. Guests will enjoy food, fun, and friends and learn more about Project Unity. For tickets/sponsorship, contact Event Co-Chairs Danielle Fifer (dfifer@bbandt.com) and Cassie Bobbitt (cassie@globaleventgroup.com). The event is cocktail/business attire. All proceeds will go to help children and families in the Brazos Valley.

Who Project Unity
What All You Need is Love Benefit Event
Where The Stella Hotel, Grand Ballroom
When Saturday, May 6, 6pm to 11pm
Why Supporting the mission of Project Unity to “empower and strengthen our community by caring for its people, supporting and educating its families and fostering hope, and change in the lives of all involved.”