KEEPING VIGIL: The Founders Of The Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

KEEPING VIGIL: The Founders Of The Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery

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Bill Bialkowsky and his wife talk to KHQ's Stephanie Vigil about opening up the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery Bill Bialkowsky and his wife talk to KHQ's Stephanie Vigil about opening up the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery
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32 years ago Spokane was shaken by a devastating news story. A 2-year-old named Vanessa Behan died from severe child abuse by either her mother, or step-father. Neither would testify against the other, so no one ever paid for the crime.  

The news disturbed many, but it hit Bill Bialkowsky especially hard. The young father himself was driven to make a difference, and with his wife was beside him every step of the way, they founded the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.

"She had a broken wrist, fractured skull, numerous cigarette burns and hair pulling trauma. In addition to the injury inside her," Bialkowsky told KHQ's Stephanie Vigil as he recalled Behan's tragic story as if it happened yesterday.

"I couldn't imagine anybody doing that to a helpless child much less one of your own. It disturbed me a great deal and Janie suggested if you're this disturbed about it why don't you do something about it." 

And so he did. Modeling after a crisis nursery in Phoenix Bill went to work, and on the anniversary of Vanessa's death the crisis nursery opened it's doors. 

"From the very first days that we opened I think we served 400, 500 children the first year. I think we do that every month now," Bialkowsky said.

Times have changed since Vanessa's death , and the need is so much greater now .

"So many of the people that come to the nursery are young, unmarried women who are essentially children themselves. They have absolutely no parenting skills. They don't understand what it takes to nurture a child successfully. They get to their wits end and they run out of rope," Bialkowsky said.

Stephanie asked Bill during his interview, "What do you think Vanessa would think if she looked down upon you now and seeing what has become of her tragic death?"

Bialkowsky replied, "I go over and talk to her about it every once and awhile. She's very proud. Her sister, her grandfather and other members of her extended family have been to the nursery, have given us talks in the past, and they have expressed extreme gratitude that her memory is being served so well."

The Vanessa Behan Crisis nursery is a respit. The staff is made up of volunteers that nurture children ages 0-6. In addition to the care they provide, the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery holds classes on parenting and other support services. Look them up at www.vanessabehan.org

If you have a story idea for Keeping Vigil, message Stephanie on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KHQStephanieVigil
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