Barbara Sinatra sheds light on Child Abuse Prevention Month

Bianca Rae, CBS Local 2 Anchor & Reporter, brae@kesq.com
POSTED: 05:54 PM PDT Apr 02, 2013    UPDATED: 06:09 PM PDT Apr 02, 2013 
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -

Twenty-seven years ago, Barbara Sinatra created a non-profit to help abused and neglected children. Since then, the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center helped 18,000 kids in the Coachella Valley.
 
"We're really thrilled we're helping them. We can turn their lives around, which makes a big difference in their lives," Barbara Sinatra said.

Helping make that difference are donations from the community and local organizations, such as the Junior League of Palm Springs Annual Sustainer's Luncheon.  

This annual luncheon benefits a different charity every year. This year, the Junior League chose to support the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center.

"They could choose any center they want, and I'm thrilled they chose our center, because it's special, and I'm very proud of it," Sinatra said.

Barbara Sinatra talked about times when the center sees more children.

"Every time the economy gets bad, abuse goes up and we have more children," she said.

A large number of boys came forward after Penn State Assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, made headlines for sexually abusing young boys.

"We usually have more girls than boys, but at that time the boys population grew, we had a lot more boys," Sinatra said.

She says the comfortable center she has sustained makes it easier for abuse victims to come for help.

"We have a child-friendly place. Wonderful colors, wonderful people, like Mary," Sinatra said.

She was talking about Mary Hart, former host of Entertainment Tonight, who interviewed her in front of the luncheon crowd.

"I love what she's doing in the community," Hart said.

"They can have a simple loving life that they didn't have before. You feel like you're saving lives, and you are," Sinatra said.

As she has been, since she first started knocking on doors asking for donations for the center back in 1986.

"I love that tenacity. You can have a passion, you can have tenacity, you can have empathy, but unless you put those things to work, and really get the bricks and mortar, you have nothing," Hart said.