When Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.’s Dawn Arrabito was asked to help out at a holiday party for Wynona’s House Child Advocacy Center three years ago, she said “yes.” It seemed like a great opportunity to support a local charity and introduce her two young daughters to the concept of giving back. What she did not anticipate was how deep her commitment would become, or how her skills and professional relationships as a commercial real estate broker at the East Rutherford, N.J., firm would come into play.
Wynona’s House, which operates in a 33,000-square-foot facility in Newark, promotes justice and healing for child victims of abuse and violence in Essex County by coordinating and streamlining investigative, prosecution, treatment, and prevention services for children and families. Among its many services, the organization focuses on reducing the number of times an abused child is interviewed during the investigation phase to a single, professional interview in a child-friendly environment. It also increases successful prosecution through improved evidence collection, victim-witness advocacy, and onsite partnerships with municipal law enforcement agencies.
“When I learned about Wynona’s House, I immediately was impressed with its mission,” Arrabito said. “However, it wasn’t until I went to help at that party that I understood the depth of its impact. I realized that this issue does not discriminate based on where you live or what you earn. This is everyone’s problem.”
Arrabito offered to do more, and Wynona’s House placed her on the organization’s facilities subcommittee – a logical assignment, given her profession. In that role, she focused on increasing operational efficiency and cost effectiveness at the Newark property. Two years later, Arrabito was asked to join the Wynona’s House Board of Trustees.
“My role evolved from trying to save money and manage the property to interacting more with the kids and their families, being involved in fundraising, and serving as an overall ambassador for this amazing non-profit,” she said. “It was a natural progression as I learned more and became increasingly passionate about what Wynona’s House is working toward. We not only treat the children, we treat their entire family to help them heal.”
Arrabito’s enthusiasm for Wynona’s House and its mission has been contagious at Cushman & Wakefield. Her colleague, Lysa Delefeti, is a Girl Scout troop leader in Belleville-Nutley. That group hosted a book drive this fall for the Wynona’s House children. In late October, the Scouts will host a festival with games, arts and crafts, and other activities at the center.
“It is gratifying to see the awareness and support of Wynona’s House beginning to spread within the Cushman & Wakefield organization, which is comprised of so many caring, generous people,” Arrabito said. “The more we can raise awareness about Wynona’s House, the better positioned we will be to help give back the childhoods that were robbed from these victims.”
For additional information on Wynona’s House, visit www.wynonashouse.org.