SILVER SPRING – Two companies joined together to raise more than $8,000 for Montgomery County’s abused and neglected children.
Saydam Properties Group and the Bella Ballet dance studio hosted a father-daughter dance March 24. Eight pairs of dancers, including girls ranging in age from two to 13 years, participated in the fundraiser, which was held in the Kentlands Clubhouse in Gaithersburg.
“It was great,” declared Nina Blecher, director of community partnerships at The Tree House Child Advocacy Center of Montgomery County.
The center is a public-private partnership that relies on county funds as well as private donations so that it may offer services free of charge to the county’s abused children, whose average age is nine years old, she said.
Tree House conducts forensic interviews and medical examinations, offers therapy and accompanies and advocates for the children as they go through the police and court system, said Blecher.
Blecher, who has been with the organization for 11 years, and the other 18 employees at Tree House aim to reduce trauma and promote healing.
Last year, the organization assisted 784 children.
Sheena Saydam, who owns Saydam Properties with her husband, first heard of the Tree House center when she moved into the Kentlands area more than three years ago.
She happened to notice a Facebook posting about the organization. She has become a tireless advocate ever since.
“It’s such a wonderful organization,” she said.
“She probably has been the single most-important person in getting the word out” about Tree House, Blecher said. “She’s a master at spreading the word.”
Saydam, who is the mother of three children ranging in age from 10 months to seven years, explained she was drawn to the group when she heard that some families who are fleeing domestic violence come to the center with nothing but the clothes they are wearing.
Her work in real estate enabled her to reach out to “a really great network,” which she uses that to help the children, she said.
“It’s been amazing,” Saydam said, noting that she can post something about the center’s needs and in a few minutes, have pledges to collect all the goods requested. For instance, she said, during the cold weather months, she helped collect winter clothing.
Saydam, who is a Tree House board member, said fundraising comes easy to her, because, “I’m not afraid to ask people for money.”
Last month, she helped organize her second father-daughter dance. She underwrote the costs and then sold tickets. The $4,000 she raised in ticket sales was matched by Bella Ballet dance studio and the Saydam Properties Group, for a total of $8,000. Another $198 was raised from a raffle.
The dance “was really fun,” she said, noting that the young dancers came from all over the county. They dressed up for the event and enjoyed a candy and dessert bar, glitter tattoos, princess crown decorating and games.
Saydam also has held three bake sales for the center.
“My trick is that I don’t put prices on anything,” so it’s not unusual for someone to donate $20 for one treat, she explained.
Her first bake sale raised $600. The second brought in $1,600, and the most-recent one “raised nearly $4,000,” she said.
Hope MacDonald, Bella Ballet founder and owner, said in a press release that she was proud to support The Tree House. “Most people who live in the affluent D.C. metro area would be surprised to know there are kids who have been victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect who need to know they are not alone.”
Bella Ballet also raised money for the center at a fall festival and at the Kentlands Holiday Jubilee. Students of the ballet studio often donate pajamas and stuffed animals.
Showing the students of Bella Ballet how they can help others is important to MacDonald.
“Bella Ballet is more than a dance school to me,” she said. “I want to teach our students by example the importance of giving back and supporting the community in which they live.”