82 WAYS: An Interview with Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Theresa Bowe

Theresa Bowe and husband Dwayne Bowe’s decision to let go of their individual charitable efforts after being married, and combining their love for community service under one umbrella, was a game changing choice. The power couple, created 82 Ways, a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to making a difference in the lives of children. Instead of focusing on just one movement, 82 Ways is committed to addressing varying issues that arise involving children. Currently 82 ways has two movements being focused on, Stop Don’t Touch Me and Heels and Motivation. Keep reading, to hear more of Theresa Bowe’s amazing story. “I am very optimistic that with proper education, less children will fall victim to sexual abuse.” – Theresa Bowe

  1. Tell us a little about yourself. A) Where are you from? Was your career path prior to starting your nonprofit in education or social services? B) How long have you known you wanted to be an ACTIVE advocate for youth?  

I was born and raised in Long Island, New York. I never imagined the one thing that made me flee New York, would be the vary thing I am most passionate about today. Born a hustler, I transitioned into entrepreneurship with my main goal being to avoid living in survival mode like my mother did. It wasn’t until I was personally taught about child sexual abuse in 2019, that I realized what actually happened to me as a child. I began to understand how I became who I am today and why. I am intelligent and so are many others that have experienced child sexual abuse. Statistically, the alarming reality is that 99% of the people we come in contact with either have been sexually abused as a child or know someone who has. Without receiving the proper education on child sexual abuse prevention, as a child I, like many others did not know how to recognize it, let alone defend myself from it. I believe that if one person had explained to me as a child what should be done if faced with child sexual abuse, instead of acting as if such abuse doesn’t exist, my life’s journey would have been different. Unfortunately it’s not a matter of if this will happen to a child, it’s a matter of when. This reality is why I have made it my job to prepare children, arming them with the tools necessary to combat these alarming statics.

2. What was the driving force behind you and your husband’s decision to start a nonprofit dedicated to educating kids and adults about sexual abuse and prevention?  

When Dwayne and I were dating we both owned charities. After our union we discovered further how big our hearts were, and we knew our respective missions apart were too small. Refusing to choose just one charity, we dissolved our individual charities and created 82 Ways together. A nonprofit, set to house 82 different causes throughout our lifetime, 82 Ways was never meant to just focus on child sexual abuse. The beauty of our charity is that it was created to continuously address relevant issues and adopt new movements to support these issues as they surface.

3. A) What age do you think parents should start teaching their children about sexual abuse and prevention? B) Is any age too young in your opinion?

In my experience, many parents are afraid to introduce sensitive topics to their children, because they’re hoping their children never have to learn about such things, or they are afraid out of sheer embarrassment. It is important to understand that by the age of two, children are familiar with their body parts. It is at this age that children should begin to understand, through age appropriate education, that there are certain parts of their body no one has permission to touch and the parameters surrounding this. Education should continue until the child can communicate all facts back to you and others. A child is only too young when the child doesn’t have the ability to comprehend at all.

4. What parent education programs or resources do you have in place to help educate parents that may be unsure about the appropriate way to share information regarding this topic with their children (especially elementary age children or younger)?

I hold open forums and share my knowledge with parents and families. I encourage them to start the dialogue with their children regarding child sexual abuse expressing the importance of early education and understanding to help foster prevention. I also published a children’s book entitled My Mommy’s Boyfriend. The book is an illustrated children’s book that introduces young readers to a topic that is very common, but hard to talk about. Many children have faced sexual abuse without even knowing it, and they continue to fall victim to predatory experiences because of their lack of knowledge on this subject. My Mommy’s Boyfriend teaches young readers that this subject exists, what to do if they ever encounter this situation, and more importantly, that confiding in multiple trusted adults is a major component in putting an end to sexual abuse. After all, child safety is an adult’s job.

5. For the children that can’t communicate, share how your organization is able to help and support their needs.

After learning how many children never speak up, I couldn’t help but feel compassion for the children that can’t speak up due to disability or other issues. I intend to implement systems for the deaf and blind in the future.

6. What events or programs do you have that foster community involvement and support for individuals that want to donate and uplift the efforts of Stop Don’t Touch Me?

Don’t Touch Me started a movement within entitled Safe Stop. This program gives volunteers the opportunity to put themselves in positions of service, to support children in need. In alignment with child safety needs, we run thorough background checks on all persons seeking to work with our organization. Many children keep child sexual abuse a secret, because they do not have someone they trust to talk to about it. In some instances, children may confide in someone and not be believed. Safe Stop provides a safe haven for children by arming them with a network of trusted adults that will step in, ready, willing and able to help. I also host events and other outreach efforts to further spread knowledge.

7. A) How does your volunteer program work? B) What type of volunteers are you looking for to support your organizations programming (age requirement, professional background requirements).

Volunteers and donations are two key components to a successful charitable organization. 82 Ways seeks outgoing, dedicated individuals that willingly want to give their time and effort to be change agents in the lives of others. As a volunteer, the growth is rewarding, and the experience gained is unmatched. Since our company works with both children and adults, we join forces with high school volunteers and adult volunteers.

8. A) What obstacles, if any, have you had to face as nonprofit business owners? B) What advice would you give to individuals interested in starting a nonprofit to better serve and support those in need?

Many of the obstacles I have faced with my mission derives from the pandemic. Our work with Stop Don’t Touch Me involves face to face contact. With the pandemic, it was no longer safe for us to meet face to face with our clients. The sad reality is that 97% of child sexual abuse is caused by individuals we know, love and trust that may live in the same home. The thought of the children we serve being forced to spend even more time in the home with or around such predators due to the pandemic was heartbreaking for me.

9. Where do you see your business in five years?

Five years from now 82 Ways will have at least five movements running smoothly keeping in alignment with our overall goal to serve in areas of need as they arise. By then, Heels and Motivation would have touched thousands of women, making me a proud, satisfied young lady.

10. A) Are your services specific to a certain area, city, county or state? B) How can people get in touch with you? Please share all avenues of communication.

Our services are not specific to one area. We are focused on dedicating our time and services to causes that are dear to us, world-wide.

Connect with us via our website www.82ways.org

Instagram @mrseightytwo

Facebook @TheresaBowe

Heels and Motivation has become a global movement. The event will be held on July 25, 2021. For many women, a pair of heels represents a profound, distinct notion of many obstacles they have had to endure and overcome. For many women, heels lift them up, while also making them feel powerful, strong and confident. Heels and Motivation encompasses all of these things and encourages women to “Walk With A Purpose.” It showcases women, encouraging them to put on their heels and show up, ready to soar and lock arms with other like-minded women. Hosted by Theresa Bowe, with special guest Spinderella expected to be in the building, Heels and Motivation will be epic. We are stronger together. Volunteer, donate and become part of the solution. From empowering women to rise up in confidence, network and grow in life and business, to being a fierce foundation of support for children and adults dealing with child sexual abuse issues, 82 Ways is set up to become an international haven, one new movement at a time.