ELKINS — An organization which features bikers who work to protect children are spreading their message of hope across the Mountain State.
Bama, Bell and Daisy — the members use their biker nicknames — of the international organization Bikers Against Child Abuse made a trip to Elkins to promote their organization.
Bama is the president of the North Central West Virginia chapter of BACA, an organization that spans 17 countries, which began in 1995. BACA aims to empower children who have been victims of abuse.
“We can be rough and rowdy. We’re bikers against something that is very cruel, ugly, mean and demonic,” Bama said.
The organization takes referrals of children with reported cases of abuse. Anyone can call BACA and nominate a child, be it their family member, school counselor or social worker.
The group holds intervention meetings for the children. During the first meeting, the members meet the family of the child they’re working with. They then let the child choose a road name and a special back patch for their custom jackets.
“While we might see that as a very small thing, in their eyes it is huge. Maybe the first time anybody’s ever asked their opinion about anything, especially how they felt about themselves,” Bama said.
During the second meeting, BACA gathers as many available bikers as possible and gathers them at a place of the child’s choosing to induct the child into their family. The child gets their custom jacket and meets their “primaries,” the two members who will work the most closely with them.
Following that are meetings every two weeks for as long as the child needs, plus the option to make emergency calls.
At any time of day, a child is welcome to call their primaries and they will immediately come to the child’s location to make them feel safe. If there is a threat to the child, the members will station themselves around the home and within the community for protection.
BACA works with local law enforcement in these situations. They do not condone violence but are there for the most dire situations, just in case.
“We do have a place within our judicial system where we can fit in and empower these children,” said Bama in regard to how this organization works with law enforcement.
BACA members including Bama took part in the National Kids Day Out event at the Phil Gainer Community Center in Elkins on Aug. 17.
BACA has maintained an established nonprofit status since the organization was founded almost 25 years ago.
All members are unpaid volunteers and every cent made by the organization toward helping the children, officials said. Along with their custom jackets, the children also get BACA backpacks with a blanket, stickers, a nightlight and more. Everything these children receive is intended to remind them of their BACA family and empower them.
Bama said, “The payment to us is to see a child enjoy life and grow up to be something that somebody tried to rob from them.”
The members hope that one day, this organization won’t be necessary anymore. Until then, they’d like to see BACA children growing up and trying to give back the same way these members have.
BACA accepts donations year-round but also hosts a major, international fundraiser once a year called the 100 Mile Ride. Bikers all over the world ride for awareness on the third Saturday each May.
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Source: The Inter-Mountain