GOC: Motorcycles, assisting children in need

The Easter Bunny recently made an appearance at the Guardians of the Children’s inaugural Easter Egg Hunt in East LIverpool, where he dined with some lucky children for lunch. (Submitted photo)

EAST LIVERPOOL –At first glance, one might think the Guardians of the Children are just another motorcycle club.

Introduced to the East Liverpool area within the last year, the organization meets monthly with two agendas on their mind. Yes, riding their motorcycles is a big part of it; however, even more prominent is their devotion to assisting abused children.

The GOC’s mission is to educate the public as well as providing strength to families in crisis. “Making a difference, one child at a time” is their motto as board members recently explained regarding their organization. They meet monthly and have 10 patch members plus another eight that are prospective, according to the chapter’s president, “Tig.”

The group’s local effort started in late 2016 and eventually was sponsored by the Altoona, Pa. chapter, according to vice president Minion.”

Since their emergence, the Steel Valley chapter has held its Breakfast With Santa and Luncheon with the Easter Bunny, as they are preparing for the Memorial Day commemoration in Calcutta, where they will host a bike show on Sunday, May 26. For their inaugural Easter event, the GOC drew more than 300 through posting flyers and to Facebook.

A 501c3 non-profit organization, GOC uses all funds directly to benefit the children.

On its widely distributed brochure, it defines neglect as the parent or guardian’s failure to meet basic needs whether physical or emotional and abuse as non-accidental injury to a child.

Signs and indications include poor hygiene, missing key articles of clothing, chronic hunger, begging or collecting leftovers, unusual school attendance, eating disorders and excessive risk taking.

Mack, sergeant at arms for the chapter, explained that to join the organization, prospective members must undergo a background check.

Mimi, who is the chapter’s child liaison, has a background in pediatric intensive care nurse.

Key to the chapter’s effort is marbles and Teddy bears that are given to the alleged victims. Tig explains that often in court, the abused child may not recognize anyone in attendance and feel compelled to shut down on the witness stand. As some judges frown on motorcycle vests, members who attend the court proceedings to support the child often can be found wearing black polo shirts and carrying a marble.

Minion said, “We focus on the children, even if we set up a wall of visual support to separate the victim from the alleged perpetrator. We are trying to negate the perpetrator mindset.”

Tig reminds the marble symbolizes a common thread of support with the child even if words cannot be expressed.

Mack added, “We are there to serve as a deterrent to the perpetrator.”

As part of the program, every child receives a GOC-clad Teddy bear, most recently donated by Kay’s Jewelers, after the initial meeting and at the formal “adoption.” The bear is “filled with supportive hugs,” adds Minion.

Typically, their adoptees hail from broken households. “If the abuser is in the home, then we cannot be involved,” explained Tig.

Currently the East Liverpool chapter is the only one in Ohio and primarily serves a 100-mile radius in the Tri-State area.

Mack explans, “There is something empowering about having 20 to 30 big brothers (in this situation).”

Once the victims reach 18 years of age than they can become full blown patchwielding guardians.

The biker organization meets at 4 p.m. on the fourth Sunday of the month at the East Liverpool Community Center, 110 Maine Blvd.