Lots of people have demanding, stressful jobs. Few people have demanding, stressful jobs that are coupled with a daily barrage of horrifying facts that reveal the trauma, emotion and physical pain suffered by children who have been sexually abused. As executive director of C/SARA Foundation, Sissy Burge has one of those double whammy jobs.


Lots of people have demanding, stressful jobs. Few people have demanding, stressful jobs that are coupled with a daily barrage of horrifying facts that reveal the trauma, emotion and physical pain suffered by children who have been sexually abused. As executive director of C/SARA Foundation, Sissy Burge has one of those double whammy jobs.


As a child, Burge said her career dreams centered on being an elementary school teacher. What happened to those plans?


“Life happened,” she said. “I married young. I was only 20 when Billy, my high school sweetheart, and I got married.”


As a young wife and mother, Burge found a job with the Ardmore Fire Department. The job was funded by a grant to promote public awareness and injury prevention through the use of smoke alarms, car seats and bicycle helmets. Eight years ago the grant ran out and Burge found herself in the job market.


‘The advocacy center (C/SARA) was just starting  and I replied to a help-wanted ad for an administrative family advocate assistant. I had no clue what it was all about when I was hired,” she said. “Dr. (Harry) Galoob, Cheryl Craft and Stephanie Hacker (both Department of Human Services Child Welfare workers) took me under their wings and educated me.”


Since Burge first walked through C/SARA’s doors, she said the advocacy center has “exploded” (in size and services).


And certainly through C/SARA efforts there are victories. But those victories are tinged with the knowledge that the child victims involved still have a long journey ahead of them to recover from the agonizing ordeals they’ve suffered. So how does Burge transition at the end of her workday to a normal home life with her husband and two sons, Trenton, 9, and Trevor, 14?


“I love my job. I’ve always loved it, but I probably love it more today than when I started eight years ago,” Burge said. “I have friends who hate their jobs, who say they hate what they do. I love this. I grew up here. It’s in my veins.”


Still Burge admits she needs time to decompress between her professional life and her home life. And her solution is to use the open road to help her change body, mind and spirit speeds.
“It’s a 20-minute drive between my office and my house. On pretty days I used to roll the windows down and crank up the radio in my car. Now that I have my motorcycle I still get that 20 minutes of freedom. By the time I get home I can be a wife and a mom,” she said. “And I live in the country. That helps too. There’s distance.”


Burge’s home life is filled with outdoor activities, sports and a general love of life with her family.  In her “just for me” moments she reads “romance novels, but not the sloppy kind, and mysteries.” She also likes to travel.


And while her home life is distanced by atmosphere from her job, Burge and her husband make sure their children are aware of life’s realities.


“My kids appreciate the fact they come from a healthy, loving family. They’ve been taught there are children who are less fortunate,” she said.


By providing her children with that knowledge, Burge feels she is doing what she can to help the next generation become not only more aware but willing to take an active role in protecting children.


Over the years as Burge has advanced at C/SARA, she has also developed a philosophy she says helps her keep her perspective.


“Early on I came up with a saying that this is the place where the healing begins. We take children out of bad situations and through intervention the healing process starts. We’re the first step to a new beginning for them,” she said.


“I’ve also come to realize you can only do what you can do. As long as at the end of the day I know I’ve given 100 percent, I can go home and feel I’ve done my part,” she said.


Marsha Miller 221-6529
marsha.miller@ardmoreite.com