By Jillian Ogawa
For their 25th birthday, Ben and Jerry thought the best way to celebrate was by giving back.
The Ben & Jerry”s Scoop Shop of Provo partnered with the Central Utah chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse for the national Ben & Jerry”s Free Cone Day charity fundraiser.
“Ben & Jerry”s is extremely committed with their social mission of making the communities they live in a better place,” said Rich Israelsen, co-owner of the Provo Ben and Jerry”s. “We totally agree with that, and it is a great opportunity to be involved with the community that supports the ice cream shop.”
All day Tuesday, the Provo Ben & Jerry”s gave out free ice cream and encouraged people to donate to BACA. Former BYU football player and Philadelphia Eagles tight end Chad Lewis, musician Peter Brienholt, and other BYU athletes, community members and city officials helped served around 6,000 free scoops of ice cream.
“It”s nice to do a field trip that”s free,” said Rachel Nielsen, who brought 20 children from Apple Blossom Cottage Preschool.
When the owners of Ben & Jerry”s were deciding which charity organization to help raise money for, co-owner Charlie Freedman immediately thought of BACA. He heard about the organization through the Elizabeth Smart case and looked more into their program.
“When we looked at BACA and I read their counseling program, I knew this was the charity we wanted to raise money for,” said Freedman.
BACA, a non-profit organization, consists of biker members who empower abused children, said Todd “Skullz” Bailey, president of the Central Utah Chapter.
Authorized agencies go through logistics of child abuses cases like court procedures or therapy, but they contact BACA if the abused child feels unsafe in his or her environment.
BACA contacts the child and the family, and then holds a first initial group meeting, which consists of 30 to 110 bikers who drive at the meeting place.
“It lets the child know we came to their house ”cause they”re special,” said BACA member Mary Lou Smith. “The child is a member of our family, and you don”t mess with family.”
Two BACA members are assigned as primary contacts for the child and visit the house once a month for four months, or more if continued support is needed. BACA members drive in the abused child”s neighborhood regularly to let the child know they are safe. BACA members also help the abused child through his or her court process, which could last up to 18 months.
“Children go through heck and are plummeted with questions like ”where did it happen,” ”what happened,”” said Smith. “And they have to answer the questions when the perpetrator stares at them.”
BACA helped with 112 child abuses cases last year, but BACA only helps 1 to 3 percent of the reported cases, said Bailey.
The first BACA chapter was organized in Utah County in 1995; since then, BACA chapters have been formed throughout the nation and internationally.
All the tips earned from Tuesday”s Free Cone Day will be donated to BACA, and they will use the money to help pay for therapy for abused kids. BACA has designated therapist who offer counseling at discounted rates.