We believe that the adult survivors in our community are uniquely qualified to mentor, serve and advocate for children on their path to healing. That’s why we are so excited to introduce you to your Survivor Keynote. A trauma informed community must be willing to learn from the diversity of the survivor experience. You are invited to hear a powerful story and be inspired by her courage, fortitude, and grace in the face of victimization.
Meet Diane and then get your tickets to Stargazing 2016 here: bit.ly/Stargazing2016
Diane Mikkelson is a survivor of sexual trauma and incest beginning when she was 5, and ending when she was 14. She has been actively focused on the healing process and working through obstacles since 2003. In 2005 she married an incredible man, who allowed her to delve even deeper into healing by helping her to feel safe and valued. She has a bachelor’s degree in education and has taught now for 14 years. Teaching is her love because it brings her closest to those who need saving. She wants all children to have the ability to be or do whatever they aspire to in life. She hopes to be the hand that rescues those in difficult situations.
As a child, education was the bridge Diane saw as her way “out”. She learned that if she did well in school, that financial support would be more easily available. In May of 1998 she graduated as Valedictorian of her class and received a full tuition academic scholarship to the University of Dallas.
Diane’s teaching position is as an intervention specialist. In this role she helps kids who are reading below grade level, learn missing skills needed to “fill in the gaps”. She spends every day motivating scholars to dig deep and use their grit to raise themselves up.
Diane realizes that not all kids are able to envision a “way out” and has therefore made it a priority to help them see value in themselves. She is also passionate about preaching the necessity for working hard to better one’s situation.
Diane has completed 4 full marathons, and about 15 half marathons. She was a running coach for Luke’s Locker for the last pace group for 4 years. She has helped many struggling runners train for, and reach, their goals.
Diane has participated in #WhyITold both in 2014 and 2015 and has been blown away by the impact her story alone has made. This gave her the inspiration to continue on a grander scale and reach more survivors. She is featured as the March survivor in the Soulfire 2016 calendar.
Diane lives in Dallas with her husband and 7 year old son.
Be sure to post a comment thanking Diane for volunteering to share her story as an advocate for children who have survived sexual trauma. We’ll see you on the 21st!
You’ve probably read the headlines.
Lansing’s The Listening Ear has confirmed that they have utilized volunteers that are registered sex offenders in the same space where they serve survivors of sexual assault. This news is really scary and you deserve to hear how safe space is protected at The Firecracker Foundation.
Here are some key things you need to know.
The Firecracker Foundation requires all staff and upper level volunteers to submit to full state and federal background checks as well as provide a Central Registry Clearance that tells us they don’t have a substantiated accusation of child abuse on their record with DHS. You can check out the volunteer requirements and apply to join the team here.
The Listening Ear has a process by which they change policies and that process has begun. While they work on their internal process I recommend that all community members utilize MSU Sexual Assault Program and EVE (End Violent Encounters) as a resource for crisis hotline and intervention services. We have also removed The Listening Ear from our list of resources until further notice.
Survivors deserve to have their agency respected. You deserve to know if you are working, serving or sharing space with a registered sex offender. That is the point of the registry. It is our policy that should a sex offender be identified within our ranks, all staff and volunteers are required to report it either to the Executive Director (yours truly) or the executive leadership so that they may be immediately removed.
It is never appropriate for registered sex offenders or people with substantiated reports of child abuse on their record with DHHS to work with survivors of sexual assault.
Here’s how you can help.
The foundation is working to expedite the launch of the Pediatric Medical Advocacy Team we had planned to kick off in 2017. Due to this unfortunate situation, there are no medical advocates qualified to respond to pediatric crisis calls at Sparrow Hospital. It is critical that families have the support they need and our job is to respond even when it doesn’t fit our timetable.
This critical response effort will cost The Firecracker Foundation approximately $10,000 outside of the budget planned for 2016.
Volunteers are already pushing themselves through last minute trainings and signing up to take on shifts. You have the most amazing team of advocates on your side! Support their valiant efforts by giving a monthly gift of $83 . If you are already a Firekeeper, consider increasing your already generous monthly commitment.
If 10 people make this commitment today, this critical response effort will be fully funded!
I want to sincerely offer my compassion and care to all of the volunteers and community members who have been negatively impacted by this situation. Please know that you are in my thoughts. I remain hopeful that this situation will inform and strengthen our community’s crisis response into the future.
Since the very beginning, YOU have created a space or sanctuary for child survivors of sexual trauma and their families. It is our commitment to you that it will be fiercely safeguarded through survivor-focused policies.
Tashmica ‘Firecracker’ Torok
Founder & Executive Director
PS – Background checks are a vital component of working with ALL vulnerable populations. It is a FREE process and does not take a lot of time. If you want information for your programs on our process, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.