Opinion

From a poem, a foundation sprouts to make a difference | Klaas

Keith Beach has built a foundation named after his late daughter. The foundation provides education, advocacy, and assistance to the community addressing issues of child abuse and domestic violence. - Mark Klaas/Kent Reporter
Keith Beach has built a foundation named after his late daughter. The foundation provides education, advocacy, and assistance to the community addressing issues of child abuse and domestic violence.
— image credit: Mark Klaas/Kent Reporter

Keith Beach thinks of his daughter every day, a beautiful girl who was killed in a car accident nearly 23 years ago.

Jennifer Beach was an honors student at Redmond High School, a compassionate teen who was active at her church and in her community. Although she had a love and a flare for fashion design and merchandising, she had plans to pursue a career in law. She hoped to become a voice for those in social situations, especially those who needed urgent help.

That plea came early. One young girl, her shoulders badly bruised, caught Jennifer's attention. Suspecting child abuse, she contacted authorities but was told that little could be done unless the abuser was caught "in the act" or more evidence surfaced beyond mere marks and contusions.

Frustrated, Jennifer wrote a cathartic poem about the little girl to meet an English assignment. That poem, "Bruised Inside & Out," soon was published, distributed to school counseling offices and shared among agencies and others determined to stop domestic violence.

It was from his daughter's inspirational poem that ultimately persuaded Keith Beach to follow his heart and discover a renewed purpose in life – helping others help themselves. He established a not-for-profit foundation that bears his daughter's name in 2001.

Four years later, Keith Beach left a promotion and the corporate world to help shape the Jennifer Beach Foundation into what it is today – a community-based advocacy agency providing direct services to those caught in the throes of child abuse and domestic violence.

The foundation, with a new home in Kent, provides education, support and assistance to the greater community, including King and Pierce counties, for those, young and old, entangled in abusive situations.

Jennifer died at age 17 shortly after she wrote the poem, but its powerful message lives on, reaching others who may be involved in abusive situations and helping organizations raise funds to deal with child abuse and domestic violence matters.

"Hopefully we could touch some other lives ... maybe other kids who are experiencing similar things," Keith Beach said of his daughter's poem. "If, in any way, it would help them see that they are not alone in what's going on. If that helps them reach out to a teacher, to a grandparent, to somebody, to share their story, maybe it could lead to them and others getting some help."

Keith Beach is a good man doing difficult work. It means long hours, major networking, frequent fundraising and relentlessly helping others solve crises.

To make it all work, his agency has found its niche over the years, fitting into the DV landscape that includes many supporters and partners, city task forces and organizations, all working together for essentially the same thing – to respond, treat and prevent child abuse and domestic violence.

The problem is big, the need for help great.

More than four children die every day as a result of child abuse, according to national data, and a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds.

Children who witness domestic violence most likely will experience long-term effects.

In addition, one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.

Keith Beach and his foundation are making a difference, using a practical touch and a variety of programs and services to help children, teens and adults.

"When they leave here there's something they can take with them, something practical that they can start using," he said of his foundation's methods to heal.

To illustrate its reach and adaptability, the foundation is offering Kid's Club classes at a confidential location in South King County. The goal of the 10-week program – designed to help children who have been raised in a domestic violent environment – is to decrease a child's sense of isolation and teach skills that will help them break the cycle of violence that they could perpetuate, if not helped.

Parents also gain a better understanding of the impact of domestic violence on their children and find ways to talk and listen to their children about their experiences.

The programs and services are working. Good results are fulfilling. The foundation continues to make a difference in a tough business.

"It's really a cool thing, something that Jennifer started," Keith Beach said. "It's turned out to be real rewarding in many ways."

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Share your time and talent

The Jennifer Beach Foundation needs volunteers to provide assistance to victims of child abuse and domestic violence. Anyone with general clerical experience, fundraising, volunteer coordinating, computer skills and other areas of expertise are greatly appreciated. To inquire or to learn more about the foundation, call 253-833-5366 or visit jnbfoundation.org.

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