It happens more often than you think. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused resulting in a minimum of 4,000 children being abused each year in South Dakota. Jo Vitek, former Chief of Police of Watertown is among those who want to change those statistics. During her 36 years in law enforcement, she saw many of those children and literally felt their pain of having been a victim of sexual abuse as a child herself. On a mission to help these children, Jo and her husband, Tony, established a fund at the Watertown Area Community Foundation with that focus. Chief Jo’s HHH Fund will introduce sexually abused children to a new friend, that of a horse through a faith-based program at Joy Ranch. Jo said, “The mission of Chief Jo”s HHH: Hope, Healing, and Hoof Prints is to foster a spiritual connection with the Holy Spirit through the horse and horsemanship methods, which can help children of sexual abuse overcome spiritual, emotional, and physical barriers. We also strive to help children develop a vibrant spiritual life from which everything else flows. Native Americans believe the horse to have strong spiritual power. Hence, it is believed that the horse will lead individuals in the right direction. A horse’s spirit is believed to be able to assist others in understanding their place in the circle of life. Joy Ranch is the perfect place for children to experience this equine program. Now, whenever law enforcement in 13 counties in Northeast South Dakota investigates an incident of CSA, before that child walks out of the door, the officer can give the child a gift of hope and healing. Chief Jo’s HHH Fund is just another way the Watertown Area Community Foundation is, Looking Forward and Giving Back, while making a difference in the lives of our children in Watertown and northeast South Dakota.
Check out this video on Jo Vitek: