Dee Norton’s new executive director prioritizes service to community
June 22, 2021
June 14, 2021 – The mantra “how do I serve best?” threaded through each role that Beverly Hutchison served during her 30 years at Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center. As the new executive director, Hutchison looks forward to continue building upon the organization’s mission to prevent abuse, protect children and heal families.
Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center provides free care for children who experienced abuse or trauma. The organization follows the national child advocacy center model that emphasizes creating a safe space for children to share what happened. This includes collaboration among law enforcement, social services, hospitals and other providers so a child doesn’t have to repeat the traumatic story to multiple agencies.
“Children are beautifully resilient. Children who have experienced abuse can and do heal, they can overcome that trauma, but they need the help of adults,” Hutchison said.
Hutchison has been involved with Dee Norton from the start when the organization formed out of Junior League of Charleston in 1991. She has served in several capacities; she started as a volunteer and then joined the board of directors. In 2001, she started working on staff as the fundraising coordinator and later the director of development and communications.
As the director of development and communications, she successfully led a $5 million capital campaign to renovate the King Street location and build the Long Point Road building in Mount Pleasant. In addition, she’s written newsletters and annual appeal letters, and has met many generous donors that help keep the organization growing.
“Even with all of that growth, the one thing that is so very consistent is that commitment to each and every child, each and every family that comes through our door,” Hutchison said.
Hutchison’s dedication to helping abused children in the community has remained central.
While she was a volunteer at Dee Norton, she remembers a woman walking into the center, holding the hands of two young children who were around the ages of Hutchison’s children at the time.
“It dawned on me in that moment that if something like child abuse ever happened to my two children, I would want this place to exist,” Hutchison said. “I would want these people who not only are experts in what they do, but the compassion and the commitment to excellence with which they do their work every day would be what I would want for my own children.”
That image has stuck in Hutchison’s mind over the last 30 years. She said the unwavering commitment from staff members and volunteers has remained a vital part of the organization’s success.
“I would say every staff person that works at Dee Norton gets up every day because we do believe that we’re making a difference, that we are changing lives,” Hutchison said.
Carole Campbell Swiecicki, the previous executive director at Dee Norton for seven years, transitioned to a part-time role as chief programmatic officer where she will incorporate the latest advancements in the field to continue the prevention of child abuse. Hutchison said Swiecicki’s expertise in programmatic areas is invaluable to the organization’s growth.
As executive director, Hutchison’s first goal is to fully reopen both locations. During the pandemic, Dee Norton Child continued offering services since the organization is considered essential, but utilized virtual options when available. She said the organization is deciding on the best timeline to start fully operating both locations.
“I’m excited about this opportunity,” Hutchison said. “I think it’s going to be a challenge, but most challenges also bring great reward.”
Hutchison is looking forward to continuing on the trajectory of helping children who need the center’s services. In addition to helping children through the healing process, the organization works to prevent abuse from happening in the first place. Hutchison said primary prevention programs in schools are especially important.
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