This year PEI Kids celebrated 30 years of service to the Mercer County community. Established in 1985, the agency’s mission is to promote and maintain a safe environment for all children. PEI Kids works with the child, family, and caregiver to provide prevention, intervention, and advocacy programs relating to personal safety, sexual abuse, and the overall well-being of the child. According to Executive Director, Roz Dashiell, “It is our hope that every child in our community will understand their value and importance; and we know of nothing that enables a child to thrive better than abiding in a safe environment.”

PEI Kids prevention programs are meant to ensure that children’s lives are not disrupted by violence, abuse, or assault. One example of PEI Kids’ prevention programming is Child Assault Prevention (CAP), which is the cornerstone of their mission. Through CAP, PEI Kids presents age-appropriate workshops to more than 13,000 children, teachers, and parents from preschool to middle school in 70 Mercer County schools on topics such as child assault, personal space, sexual abuse, bullying, and internet safety.

PEI Kids’ intervention programs reach children who have been impacted by abuse, crime, neglect, or sexual abuse as well as adolescents at risk of juvenile justice involvement. PEI Kids offers free, professional counseling to child victims of sexual abuse and offers support to vulnerable children, at-risk youth, and children in foster care. Each year the agency serves more than 14,000 children and families in greater Mercer County, from an innocent child being molested by a family friend, to a frightened middle-schooler being lured by gang culture. The agency provides services at no charge to children or their families and never turns away a child in need of service.

PEI Kids celebrated its milestone 30th year with a focus on community outreach and partnership. In August the agency held a summer celebration barbecue party at its Lawrence headquarters for community children and clients of the agency.

The organization also participated in more than 25 community outreach events throughout the year, and hosted a meeting of its Greater Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse at Rider University in October, which drew the participation of state, county, and local officials, and leaders from other youth-serving organizations. Additionally, PEI Kids and Capital Health are launching a joint violence-prevention initiative with the youth in PEI Kids’ CJOOS (Comprehensive Juvenile Offender Outreach Services) program for juvenile offenders with the goal of reducing the street violence among youth in the City of Trenton.

Dashiell explains, “We’ve had quite a productive year. Those of us working here at PEI Kids are inspired daily when we see the difference that our programs and services make in the lives of so many children. We never take this for granted. We share our story with the hope that others are inspired by the difference we make collectively when we invest in children.”

You can support PEI Kids this season with your time, talent, or treasure. You can make a donation online and track the agency’s progress toward their fundraising goal at www.peikids.org/holidayappeal. The agency needs to raise $32,256 by December 31 to make their fiscal goal for the year. You can also volunteer your time or services to help out in their administrative, fundraising, events, and program operations.

PEI Kids has many volunteers who dedicated hundreds of hours of work for them throughout the year. Volunteers are needed in every aspect of their mission from providing office clerical work to promoting community workshops to staffing fundraising events. For more information on volunteering, contact Jesse Elliot at jelliot@peikids.org or call 609-695-3739.

PEI Kids’ aspiration for the children of Mercer County is “Safe Kids, Sound futures.”

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