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Children’s advocate is the linchpin of Our Kids: Our Business

Dina Patrick, who works at the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, talks Thursday about the Our Kids: Our Business campaign.  (Jesse Tinsley)
Dina Patrick, who works at the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, talks Thursday about the Our Kids: Our Business campaign. (Jesse Tinsley)

Dina Patrick is one of the unsung heroes of Our Kids: Our Business. She’s responsible for letting everyone know the where, when and who of the hundreds of events, programs, meetings and displays, from when planning for the monthlong campaign starts in September through wrap-up in May. By being the information hub for Our Kids: Our Business, the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery program director helps further its mission: Awareness and education for preventing child abuse and neglect.

Q. How did you get involved in Our Kids: Our Business?

A. Our Kids: Our Business is actually the educational arm of the SPO-CAN Council, which stands for Spokane Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

When this whole thing came to be four years ago, it was the council that became the vehicle – the nonprofit to run money through for Our Kids: Our Business, and for the whole momentum and call to action that we were trying to bring awareness to.

I’ve been the secretary for the SPO-CAN Council for many, many years. Being the keeper and distributor of the information made sense.

Q. How much has Our Kids: Our Business grown?

A. When we started, it was roughly 25 to 30 businesses and individuals in the council. Now, with Our Kids: Our Business, it’s sort of at two levels, a membership level and a participation level. The council now has more than 40 businesses and individuals as members. The e-mail list for Our Kids: Our Business is more than 300.

Q. Are you considered the go-to person?

A. People say, if you have any information to send out, send it to Dina, she’ll get it out. If you have an answer to someone’s question, send it to Dina and she’ll send it out.

Q. How has the monthlong effort expanded?

A. The events have grown by awareness each year. The hospital puts out a big banner by the freeway; you drive by a school and it has pinwheels. So somebody there is getting the information to know that a pinwheel represents childhood innocence and it’s a symbol of what Our Kids: Our Business has come to be.

I think the events change every year, and they’ve grown every year too. Even if it’s just a little kindergarten class that wants to draw pictures and put them on the wall, we’ve incorporated that. In terms of events, it’s hard to quantify. But, it’s multiplied exponentially, from a couple dozen to hundreds of events. It’s just amazing.

Q. When did you become a child advocate?

A. I’ve always had a heart for working in children’s issues. You know, just papers that I did in high school around sudden infant death syndrome. That just led me to different agencies and avenues, and that just made want to do something, plant seeds, be there for kids.