Usually, I am writing to beg for your support to help local children who have been abused, or for you to learn to prevent all forms of child maltreatment. Today, I am writing to ask you to thank a local hero.
Maggie Tucker – a licensed clinical social worker, child advocate and local hero in the field of child protection – retired from Child Enrichment on April 6.
CHILD ADVOCATES don’t usually retire. Most often, they are forced from the field because working with tortured children causes a form of trauma in the caregiver, or because children you were attempting to protect ended up dead. Also driving child advocates from the field is an alarming amount of incompetence and indifference among other professionals, the general public and even a judge or two.
Maggie was the hero for such children for decades, despite those challenges. It’s not easy to convince a judge that what he is about to do with a child is wrong. Maggie had an ability to clearly present the facts so a judge could see that placing a child or sibling group back with a sex offender or abuser was not a good idea – not in the child’s best interest, and not even in the judge’s.
Maggie did some amazing work under difficult circumstances with child victims who exhibited trauma symptoms of every kind.
Her professional credentials and work history through four decades are impressive, having worked in education; interning in medical settings; working with domestic violence and child abuse victims, and parents, veterans and special-needs children.
She is the epitome of the phrase “giving back.” She has generously given, assessed and advocated. She has confronted injustice and testified, and motivated others to do the right thing. She managed to maintain, if only barely, her outrage about the common violence, tragedy and horror of child abuse.
MAGGIE TUCKER is a hero to all of the innocent children and adults who are vulnerable, or who have been victimized by perpetrators or by the very system that was created to protect them.
She not only will be missed in the usual sense of missing an employee who is leaving. Maggie also will be missed because of the therapeutic space she created and shared with her fellow employees, and the interns who gained the knowledge that she so carefully collected and discovered over the years that she shared so generously.
Child Enrichment values the skills and purpose of therapists such as Maggie, and we understand that her work was not “work” in the sense of the word as most people understand it. Maggie’s work obviously has been critically important, but also self-sacrificing, frustrating and – at more times than can be imagined – unsuccessful, or with end results unknown or pending, when the lives of children are still in jeopardy.
The kind of dedication necessary to pursue the mission of helping tortured children to recover from trauma and horror is not readily understandable, but we understand that Maggie has it. I thank her for all that she has done for the child clients that she worked with, and for all she has given to her Child Enrichment allies.
PLEASE THANK Maggie if you ever have the opportunity, and please thank all the other caring professionals who help the most vulnerable citizens among us. Abusers, bullies and incompetence must be confronted.
You, too, can be a hero for maltreated children and adults. Maggie Tucker has shown us that honesty and courage are the basic ingredients.
Thank you, Maggie.
(The writer is executive director of Child Enrichment Inc., the Court Appointed Special Advocates and the Child Advocacy Center of the Augusta Judicial Circuit.)