Reasons to shop and smile...

Sabika fans and supporters of ChildLaw Services examine the Sabika jewelry available for order Monday afternoon at ChildLaw Services. Fifty percent of the sales made during that jewelry party benefited CLS, and $25 from the sale of each Little Hearts Daisy necklace — created especially to raise awareness and funds to combat child abuse — will help the nonprofit agency that fights child abuse locally.

PRINCETON — Karin Mayr endured abuse for years at the hands of the people who should have loved her most in the world, but she never allowed the pain to darken her outlook.

Instead, the founder of Sabika set out to make her own unique world shine.

“I was a very abused child mentally and physically,” Mayr said Monday, as she visited ChildLaw Services in Princeton to raise awareness about and funds for the organization that provides well-trained and informed legal services for children involved in child abuse, neglect and custody cases. “It lasted until about the age of 20 or 21, because in Germany, you are only an adult at the age of 21.”

Mayr and her Sabika team visited ChildLaw Services to unveil the Little Hearts Daisy necklace, a special necklace designed especially to benefit organizations that serve children and fight child abuse. Twenty-five dollars from the sale of each necklace will go directly to ChildLaw Services in Princeton or to CASA of Westmoreland, Inc., in Pennsylvania.

Mayr has never made a secret of the fact that she endured a less-than-ideal childhood, but she only recently began to go completely public with the difficulties she faced in a bid to show others that it is possible to survive abuse and to thrive afterward.

“I never really gave up my hope. I was always painting my own world,” she said. “I remember sometimes my parents were beating me, and I was singing inside myself.”

In her mind, she occasionally planned how she would build a castle when she could in order to escape the bleak reality she lived inside.

“I didn’t build a castle,” Mayr said Monday, surrounded by the sparkling crystals of the jewelry her patrons crowded into ChildLaw Services to try on and admire. “... but I built Sabika.”

While the jewelry line built on the concept of independent-consultant sales has created a lucrative business for Mayr and her team, the founder said the financial rewards are not what drove her desire to succeed.

“I never wanted to be rich, but I wanted to use what came my way and to share it with others,” she said.

The effort to raise awareness and to fight child abuse is just the latest in a series of causes Sabika has joined, including breast cancer. Mayr said child abuse has been slightly harder to rally support against than breast cancer advocacy was to gain help for, perhaps because its existence is so bleak.

“I’m not giving up. Sometimes, I think that we stand for beauty, and part of that beauty is what’s on the inside. That’s what this is all about,” she said. “It’s nice that we’re raising money for ChildLaw Services and for CASA, but it’s nicer that we’re raising awareness. I cannot stop loving. I cannot be bitter. I will keep going. Those were the things I have decided to do for the rest of my life, and that’s what these people here do, too. They are really wonderful people who spend their days and nights thinking of these children and what’s best for them.”

ChildLaw Services Executive Director Kathy Wallace said the Sabika fundraising efforts will be a huge help in light of the uncertainty surrounding budget cuts to West Virginia state agencies.

She sent out big thanks to Mayr, Sabika and Grants Supermarkets, who provided approximately $17,000 in funding assistance in the last month. In addition, Grants has hired some of ChildLaw Services’ “kids,” providing their first real-world job experience.

And, Wallace said both the supermarket and the sparkling jewelry distributor were taking giant leaps in helping the agency stand up to daunting statistics and declare, “We’re not going to stand for child abuse anymore.”

— Contact Tammie Toler at ttoler@ptonline.net.