THE AUDREW HEPBURN CHILDREN'S HOUSE - HOW IT BEGAN divider HFoundation

For nearly ten years, The Audrey Hepburn Children's House (AHCH) has helped abused children and their families restore their self-worth and dignity, renew their faith in the world around them, revive their hope for a safe tomorrow, reclaim their lives and dreams, and redeem their futures in a comforting environment.

Plans to celebrate this milestone are already underway. More information regarding the celebration will be provided in the weeks to come. In preparation for the anniversary celebration, we look back to the dedication of The Audrey Hepburn Children's House in 2002.

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The dedication ceremony took place on October 7, 2002 with honored guests Sean Ferrer and Natalie Portman. Sean Ferrer, Audrey Hepburn's son and founder and chairman of The Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund, thanked those who contributed to making the building a reality. He emphasized how much the center that bears her name would have meant to Ms. Hepburn.

Ferrer paid tribute to actress Natalie Portman. "You have been with us since the beginning of the Fund...and you are here with us today. We're officially naming you 'the godmother' of The Audrey Hepburn Children's House." Ferrer was joined by Kirk Hallam, chief financial officer, The Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund, and Paul Albeghetti, secretary, The Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund. A star in the making in 2002, Portman went on to receive the Best Actress Academy Award for her role in "Black Swan" in 2011.

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Prior to the ceremony, Ferrer helped unveil "The Spirit of Compassion," a sculpture created by artist John Kennedy depicting a mother cradling a child that would welcome visitors to the AHCH for years to come.

Ferrer also thanked Mrs. Lucia Palestroni, representing The Alfiero and Lucia Palestroni Foundation, Inc., whose pledge of $1 million helped complete the funding for the new facility. Other guests included Congressman Steve Rothman (D-9), Marisel Morales, NY/NJ regional director, HUD, and Assemblywoman Rose Marie Heck (R-38). .

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The three story building is a state-designated Northern Regional Diagnostic and Treatment Center for child abuse and neglect. The AHCH serves the needs of children and families in Bergen, Morris, Passaic, Hudson, Warren and Sussex Counties. The unique environment includes medical examination rooms, evaluation and interview rooms with observation capabilities, therapeutic play areas for children, individual and group therapy rooms, and child-friendly waiting areas.

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The mission of the AHCH is to ensure the safety, health and well-being of infants, children, and adolescents through assessment, intervention, and prevention of child abuse and neglect. The professional staff, including physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and child life specialists have clinical expertise in all areas of child maltreatment and provide comprehensive care for both the child and their family. A multidisciplinary approach to investigation, diagnosis and treatment of child abuse is utilized through collaboration with community agencies that service child victims and their families.

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This collection of artwork by children who were treated at The Audrey Hepburn Children's House provides a unique window into the healing process. Please click here to view the slideshow.

For more information about the AHCH, click here.

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