Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center Says Goodbye to Torrie Flink After 24 Years
GURNEE ILLINOIS (June 2012) Over 480 people sat in awe on Friday June 15th as sisters Liliana, 14 and Ameyali, 12 told their stories of how they survived and healed after the sexual abuse inflicted upon them by their uncle. They first came to Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center in 2011 to begin what will be a lifetime of healing and that day, they exhibited true bravery and poise as they spoke to a room full of mostly strangers about that journey. Liliana looked proud as she told the audience that her counseling at ZCenter allowed her to “finally face [her] biggest fear; and that is finally talking about [her] sexual abuse” and that she can “honestly say that [she] is strong [and] brave.” The tent swelled with emotion as hundreds took to their feet to give the girls a standing ovation.
Torrie Flink, ZCenter’s retiring CEO, took the microphone next and acknowledged Liliana and Ameyali as the “heart and soul” of ZCenter. After 24 years, Flink will retire at the end of this month, but noted that she will remain involved at ZCenter, which has become very much a second home for her. When describing the work that happens there, she said:
“…this is a transformative, powerful place … it is [where] somebody has no sense of self and shame and they’re able to make that [into] confidence. It is when vulnerability is at its peak … and becomes strength. That is an amazing process and it happens here every single day. It’s our business as usual.”
Flink then thanked acknowledged the audience for their support and noted how “unbelievable [it is] that with something as … horrific … as sexual abuse, the most tender, precious parts of who we are come forward.” And come forward they did: the 10th Annual Luncheon successfully raised over $130,000 dollars that will help shorten a list of 122 families waiting for services from ZCenter.
By the end of the program, Flink had humbly accepted two plaques that honor her legacy to be hung in the facility she helped to build in 1997: the first, above the entrance to the newly-renovated lower level and the second above the fireplace which was installed as part of her vision to create a healing space that offers comfort and security to every person that walks through ZCenter’s doors.
Two short weeks later it was time for the staff at ZCenter to say their farewells to Flink. The 16-person ZCenter family came together for her last staff meeting on Friday morning, each taking a turn through smiles and tears to share something that Flink had taught them over the years. While most people know that she has created a healing space for survivors of sexual abuse, her development of a supportive, challenging place where staff becomes family has mostly gone unsung. In most of their farewells, staff members thanked her for that, noting how rare it is to be a part of such a special environment.
Community members can look forward to that feeling of comfort, healing and acceptance to continue at Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center in the future.