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FRONTLINE: Doing Good With Sharon McGinley


Unsung Heroine

The Support Center for Child Advocates turns 30 this month, but chances are you’re hearing about it for the first time. But if Ardmore’s Sharon McGinley has anything to say about it, it won’t be the last. A board member and volunteer since 2001, McGinley spends 25 hours a week raising awareness and funding for this unsung organization, which despite serving as a national and international role model, lacks sufficient recognition locally.

A Philadelphia-based volunteer program created to provide training for attorneys and social workers representing nearly 700 clients—most of them neglected and abused children—Child Advocates’ goals include protection; improved health and well-being; advocacy and policy-making; and, ideally, permanent, nurturing environments for these kids.

“It’s hard when kids are interviewed in front of their foster parents,” says McGinley. “If they leave the room to talk, they’re in danger of more abuse. Even when they reveal the truth, they’re usually left in the home, diminishing that trust.”

McGinley credits her husband with getting her involved. “My husband’s a finance guy. [Executive director] Frank [Cervone] approached him for support, and he gave him my number.”

She jumped in with both feet, quickly gleaning the need for exposure. “All the involvement was centered around the legal community. They didn’t realize that other people would want to participate.” After meeting several former clients and hearing their horrific tales, McGinley went into overdrive—all the way to Harrisburg to lobby for a bill of rights for foster children.

“The legislators’ jaws dropped—they just could not believe what they were hearing,” she says. “If you’re not making a lot of noise, you don’t get the attention.”

For more info, call (215) 925-1913 or visit advokid.org.

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