The drive to transform neighborhoods, create nonprofits and support close-to-the-heart causes makes these individuals stand out in the eyes of their peers.
“Statistically, I shouldn’t be who I am today,” Charles “Chahlie” Stecker, of 13th and Jackson streets, said.
A man of many trades, Stecker works as a Democratic committeeperson, a judge of elections at South Philadelphia High School, 2101 S. Broad St., and a volunteer with Lower Moyamensing Civic Association.
He is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, a contact negotiator representing the Philadelphia Security Officer’s Union, an avid motorcycle rider and a full-time security officer for Center City’s AlliedBarton.
Stecker is also a child abuse survivor.
“I was quiet for many years, but when I saw the magnitude of what was going on and the effect it was having on families and children, I felt strongly that ... I didn’t go through what I went through to keep it to myself,” Stecker, 49, said.
At age 4, he watched his foster mother kill his 2-year-old brother. The tragic event has inspired Stecker to speak out against child abuse, and help those who have been affected.
“Something inside is driving me to do this,” Stecker said. “I believe that each of our experiences in life, whether they’re positive or negative, is a way of learning. We should use it to help others.”
Stecker founded the International Child Abuse Prevention Task Force, an organization geared toward stopping child abuse before it starts with proactive programs, while also supporting the abused with reactive intervention.
“If we can get the abuser to stop abusing then we [can break] the cycle of abuse,” he said. “Those who do abuse have something in their past that triggers it. It shouldn’t be an excuse, but it’s still a reality.”
Through his system, more than 4,000 volunteers around the country are in charge of catering to people who see abuse in their towns but don’t want to report it, whether it’s because of fear or another reason.
“If you don’t wanna call [to report it], you call us,” Stecker, who has a daughter, Chrysti Lyn Stecker, said. “One of the volunteers will go out while it’s happening ... and they make the call to the law enforcements.”
Stecker started his journey toward fighting against child abuse by acting as an inspirational speaker for “Chahlie’s Angel,” in remembrance of his brother. Through this initiative, he encouraged people not to have their past interfere with their future.
“My free time is serving other people,” Stecker said. “It fulfills me, it’s my calling and it makes me happy.”
Contact the South Philly Review at firstname.lastname@example.org.