Former kidnapping victim forms non-profit to prevent child abuse ...
- Blog Post by: Jeremy Olson
- March 8, 2012 - 12:27 PM
I’ve written then erased then rewritten this blog many times, because where do you begin with someone as fascinating as Rolanda DelaMartinez?
Probably you start with the fact that she was kidnapped from her father’s home in Florida in 1983 and abused by her birth mother in their home in Burnsville. She credits a shrewd child welfare caseworker for noticing her plight in 1985 and removing her from the home.
Of course, there also are more recent headlines about DelaMartinez’ child, Kye Allums, who went to George Washington University on a basketball scholarship only to declare she was transgender and to quit the team this season to have sex reassignment surgery. Mother and child haven't exactly been seeing eye to eye. DelaMartinez has been calling Allums “she” in public statements while Allums has taken to referring to himself as “he.”
Political wonks might like to know what possessed DelaMartinez to run as a DFL candidate in 2008 for a 52A State House seat that is firmly in Republican territory. She lost by a two to one margin.
And now for the new news: DelaMartinez’ recent announcement of the provocatively named No More C.R.A.P. non-profit organization to reduce child abuse and neglect. Hoping to prevent children from experiencing the abuse that she experienced, DelaMartinez is raising grant money to fund home visits and training for parents with newborns.
“I’m not a perfect parent,” said the mother of four, “but I do know that we all get stressed out. My whole intent is to prevent the stress that causes abuse.”
DelaMartinez is thinking big. She wants to serve 100 new families in her first year but expand the organization nationally. When her organization connects with parents of a new child, she wants it to stay connected to those parents while their children grow up.
“Following through, I think that’s key,” she said. “It’s about keeping up with this child not just that first week but three months and beyond – all the way into high school.”
The public learned of DelaMartinez’ childhood ordeal when she told her story in 2006 to the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune. She knew at the time that she wanted to find a way to make a difference in the lives of children and to break the cycle of child abuse that can pass down through generations. She went back to school and earned a doctorate in nonprofit management to prepare herself for this goal. She hopes her perspective as a child victim will allow her to contribute to the current child welfare system and to help identify and prevent abusive situations.
"I think the state and everyone else does a fantastic job, but I don't think they see everything," she said. " … I just think they need more help, more assistance, in identifying things that the average eye wouldn’t see or you're not looking for."
So how does the rest of DelaMartinez' fascinating story fit in with this effort to prevent child abuse?
DelaMartinez worries about the publicity regarding the story of her child -- who will graduate from George Washington this spring. But she said she doesn't plan to back off her efforts to prevent child abuse or to simultaneously support and advocate for Allums (even if they disagree on many things).
And the drubbing she took in the state House election? DelaMartinez said it taught her a valuable lesson
"I realized I don't have to run for office," she said, "to use my voice."
© 2013 Star Tribune