Mallory Dussault: Making a difference in abused and neglected children’s lives
By Lucy McElroy
Criminal Justice major, Mallory Dussault has been devoting her free time to helping foster children for years, teaching them life skills and giving them something they desperately need – love.
The University of South Carolina Upstate student and Delta Zeta Om member is in her junior year and is already sure of what she wants to do after graduation. She aspires to work as a child abuse investigator and to foster and adopt children.
“My family was a foster family when we lived in Chicago, we had 200-plus kids in and out of our home in just two years,” Dussault said. “Some of the kids we lived with went to a Royal Family Kids Camp in Geneva, Ill., and I got to see what amazing things it did for their life.”
The Royal Family Kids Club (RFKC) provides 6- to 12-year-old foster children with life-changing experiences, according to RFK.org. Camps are filled with exciting activities for children – visits from Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, shaving cream fights that end in being hosed off by firemen, carnivals with rides, and birthday parties for everyone.
Dussault is volunteering at the RFKC this week, the second time this month. She began volunteering with the RFKC three years ago and has participated in four camps.
“When I was 17, I decided it was my time to make a difference. I contacted the director, and she was so excited to hear from me,” Dussault said. “On the day of my eighteenth birthday I sent in all of my background checks and I’ve been at camp/club ever since.”
Dussaut’s commitment goes beyond the summer. Dussault volunteers as a mentor to a Royal Family Kid throughout the school year. Her six-year-old camper told her that she had never had a birthday party before coming to camp.
“Mentoring is important because you get to help guide your child through their life, and you get more time with them than just the week of camp,” Dussault said. She travels to visit her RFK in Lovejoy, Ga., every month and in the summer.
Dussault is inspired by her mother’s dedication to helping abused and neglected children – she was a lead child abuse investigator for 25 years in Illinois and later recruited by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“My goal in life is to follow in her footsteps,” Dussault said.
She noted that working with foster children is not for everyone, and she believes that it takes a special kind of person to handle the situations volunteers face.
“If they open up, you hear the events of some of their abuse, or what their life has been like. Honestly, it’s really hard to hear about it sometimes, but it’s harder to know that they had to experience it,” Dussault said. “This year was hard because I took countless of punches to the face and kicks to the shins, but going through all of that I realized that these kids need more love than ever.”
Visit the Royal Family Kids club website to learn more about volunteering with the organization.
All photos courtesy of Mallory Dussault.