Meet Martha O’Neill
Buckhead resident Martha O’Neill has a favorite quote: “Use your voice for kindness, your ears for compassion, your hands for charity, your mind for truth and your heart for love.” Her heart has been in caring for children ever since she began babysitting as a young teen and throughout college. Raised in the small town of Paris, Texas, O’Neill’s family moved to Marietta during high school. She met her husband, Danny while she was a student at the University of Georgia. The couple is raising two beautiful girls, Emme (5) and Leila (almost 2), and live within walking distance of Sarah Smith Elementary, where their oldest attends kindergarten.
When Emme was just over a year old, O’Neill felt that passion to serve children stirring inside of her and began asking friends where they donated their time and talents. She heard about the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy (GCCA) and a fundraising gala called the Cheer for Children Ball. Once she started researching the organization, she began to understand just how critical its mission is in championing the needs of sexually and physically abused children through prevention, intervention, therapy and collaboration. The GCCA works to ensure that children receive all the services needed following a report of abuse at no cost to children and families in Fulton and Dekalb County. Over 13,000 children have been served and more than 65,000 adults have been provided child abuse prevention training throughout Georgia.
With the weight of her heart and mind on the plights of these children, O’Neill knew the GCCA was where she could help make a difference in her community. She joined the Cheer for Children Ball committee over four years ago and this year is the chair for the GCCA’s largest fundraiser.
O’Neill continues to find affirmations that her passion has been directed to the right place. When Danny was called to jury duty in early 2014, he served on a child molestation case and heard some of the most disturbing things of his life. The little girl who had been abused was 4 years old, the same age Emme was at the time. The defense attorney was doing a good job of placing doubt in the jurors’ minds, and some were leaning toward a not-guilty verdict. Then, they were shown a videotaped interview with the child taken at the GCCA immediately after the incidents had happened. The truth came to light, and the jury all agreed the perpetrator was guilty. Had it not been for that taped forensic interview in an environment where the child felt safe enough to tell her traumatic story, he could have gone free.
Once Upon a Time…Helping Abused Children Find Their Happily Ever After
October 16 at 7:30 p.m.
The American Spirit Works, 199 Armour Drive
$150 or tables $2,500 – $10,000
Sponsorship opportunities at $500 – $25,000.