Over the past 6 years there have been many people who hear “The Dragonfly House Children’s Advocacy Center” and immediately look confused and ask what we do. More than one person has actually pulled in our parking lot and knocked on our door just to ask us who we are. We have been mistaken as a hardware store (no lie!). At least once a week, and sometimes more, people forget the “dragonfly” and trade it out for another random insect, most commonly the butterfly. We have even had someone ask us if we are a Japanese restaurant. But no, we are none of those things. I understand why the name itself may make people wonder – it is kind of odd and doesn’t really explain much. In fact, one of the most common questions I get when doing presentations is “why are you named “The Dragonfly House”?”
The Dragonfly itself has taken on different symbols throughout different cultures: Power and Poise (for their graceful flight and ability to move forwards and backwards, side to side, up and down – at speeds up to 45 miles an hour). The opening of one’s eyes (because the eyes of a dragonfly can see 360 degrees around it, it relates to the vision of the mind and the ability to see beyond your own limitations). Living in the moment (dragonflies only fly for a small portion of their life so they leave nothing to be desired in their few short months – they in the moment and live life to the fullest). The symbol list goes on and on … Courage, Strength, Happiness …
But with all of these meanings, each one being able to relate back to working with child abuse victims, there are two specific meanings that the Japanese culture recognizes the dragonfly as (and no we aren’t Japanese or a Japanese restaurant but stay with me here) – Hope and Change. That is how we came up with our name. Those meanings exemplify who we are and what we strive every day to give to the children who walk through our doors. Hope for a brighter future free from the abuse they have endured. Change from the situation they were in to a life they deserve. We want them to experience this hope and this change with courage. We want to show them the strength they have inside themselves. We want them to see happiness the way every young child should. We want to open their eyes so they can see that what happened to them is not their fault. We want them to live their life to the fullest. We want them to do all of those things with power and with poise.
Think about a child that has suffered abuse – whether it is from neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or witnessing violence. Put yourself in their shoes and inside their innocent little minds. Think about the fear, guilt, and shame they place on themselves. Think about the pain they feel, the helplessness they experience, the confusion they are in. Think about their brokenness and their heartbreak. When kids come into our center these are the emotions they are carrying inside them. These are the emotions they are trying to make sense of and cope with. But then they meet with Heydy and talk to Kim and see Dr. Amy. They spend time with the nurse and get to pick out a blanket and have a snack. They get to play in the lobby and be surrounded by people who only want to help them and make things better. They get to go to therapy with Jenny, Rebecca, Tashia, or another one of our amazing therapists. They get to have a team of people that include social workers and detectives working and fighting FOR them. Then, piece by piece, one symbol at a time, we are replacing sadness with happiness, fear with strength, shame with courage, pain with hope, and brokenness with change.
Sometimes organizations are named after people and the work they did or a cause they led. Sometimes agencies go simple and name their organization after the town or county they are housed in. There really is no right or wrong way to name an agency. Symbols aren’t always the first choice but for us it was the only choice. When this agency was being created back in 2009, it was very important to me that it have a name that was meaningful and symbolized the work that we do. When it came time to choose that name there was no hesitation. There was only one option presented and every person who was part of the creation process in that room at the time agreed on it. Offering hope, change, strength, and courage to child victims of abuse: The Dragonfly House Children’s Advocacy Center.