WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – Working with children who are victims of abuse isn’t easy, but there’s a special group in our community taking that challenge head-on.
This month, which is Child Abuse Awareness Month, they are making a special push, hoping to help as many kids as they can.
The group is called BACA, or Bikers Against Child Abuse.
“We are a group of bikers, our sole purpose is to empower these children to not be afraid,” said BabyGirl, who is the Secretary and Child Liaison for the Seven Cities Chapter of BACA.
Members go by their patch names, like BabyGirl and JimDawg.
“We interview the family, talk to the child, confirm that it’s an abuse case that’s been reported to someone. Once we do that, we confirm the fear in the child,” said chapter President JimDawg.
Then, if they want, the child becomes part of the BACA family.
“We show up at court for them,” said JimDawg. “We go to their house at night if they’re scared and stay there. So we try to fill the gaps where maybe other agencies can’t.”
BabyGirl said, “We show them they’re part of the BACA family by doing things such as giving them their own BACA vest, they get to choose their road name, they get to choose their patch that’s for their back and they get a BACA bear so when we’re not physically present, they can gold the bear if they’d like.”
They meet children through word of mouth, and by partnering with local agencies.
“When the traditional therapists and advocates aren’t in the office, BACA is there to go and support these kids and to meet with them whenever they need it,” said Chrissy Bellino, who is a senior victim advocate in the Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Office.
She’s been referring kids to BACA for about two and a half years.
“I think it’s a really different approach to working with children and advocating for children,” Bellino said. “The kids that I’ve worked with love it.”
She’s also seen the transformation that BACA facilitates.
“I have children that were not able to even talk when we first met with them,” said Bellino. “However, a few months later and a few months of working with BACA, they’re able to come to a courtroom and they have their voice back and they’re empowered to talk about what happened to them, right there in front of that defendant who is sitting there watching them and that’s just extremely important.”
This month, BACA members will be out and about at Starbucks locations across the seven cities, sharing what they do and hoping to help as many kids as they can. They’re also collecting denim vests and teddy bears to give to BACA children.
Their chapter helpline is 757-276-9057.
Here is where they will be during the month of April:
A BACA tent set up will be set up at the following locations/dates:
- Sunday, 4/3: Hanbury: 249 Hanbury Rd E Chesapeake, VA 23322
- Saturday, 4/9: Providence: 5232 Providence Rd VA Beach, VA 23464
- Sunday, 4/10: Country Club: 940 Cedar Rd Chesapeake, VA 23322
- Saturday, 4/16: Holland: 3917 Holland Rd VA Beach, VA 23452
- Sunday, 4/17: Landstown Commons: 3376 Princess Anne Rd VA Beach, VA 23456
- Saturday, 4/23: Kempsriver: 1390 Fordham Dr VA Beach, VA 23464
- Sunday, 4/24: Eden Way: 809 Eden Way N Chesapeake, VA 23320
- Saturday, 4/30: Princess Anne: 2005 Lynnhaven Pkwy VA Beach, VA 23456
All month long, teddy bears and jean jackets may be dropped off at the following Starbucks locations:
- Hanbury: 249 Hanbury Rd E Chesapeake, VA 23322
- Country Club: 940 Cedar Rd Chesapeake, VA 23322
- Battlefield: 1217 N. Battlefield Blvd Chesapeake, VA 23320
- Woodlake: 1746 Sentinel Dr Chesapeake, VA 23320
- Eden Way: 809 Eden Way N Chesapeake, VA 23320
- Kempsriver: 1390 Fordham Dr VA Beach, VA 23464 Providence: 5232
- Providence Rd VA Beach, VA 23464
- Princess Anne: 2005 Lynnhaven Pkwy VA Beach, VA 23456
- Landstown Commons: 3376 Princess Anne Rd VA Beach, VA 23456
- Landstown Center: 1933 Landstown Center Way VA Beach, VA 23456
- Holland: 3917 Holland Rd VA Beach, VA 23452
BACA also has a 100 Mile Ride fundraiser on Saturday, May 21, 2022. It starts at ends at Bayside Harley in Portsmouth. Registration begins at 10 a.m., and kickstands up at 11 a.m. It is $20 for a single rider and $25 for double.