This year, 2016, marks 40 years since the CAPS mission – to prevent child abuse in Elkhart County – officially began. We are sharing a few stories about some of the people who were there at the beginning, working to ensure that all kids have a safe, healthy and happy childhood.

In the early days of child abuse prevention efforts in Elkhart County, Bill and Elaine Marohn were the definition of a dynamic duo.

In the late 1970s, William Marohn was a stockbroker for Prudential and the president of the board at Child Health Society in Elkhart. When the local United Way put its support behind a child abuse task force that had been researching the issue and what could be done about it, it chose Bill to be the co-chair of the task force, along with Charlie Owens Jr., an executive at Miles Laboratories.

Together, these two meant business, literally.

“Bill is definitely a Type A kind of person,” said Daryl Abbott, the first coordinator of child abuse prevention programs and the first CEO of CAPS. “Charlie Owens was much the same. They were businessmen and they weren’t used to taking things slow, they just sort of forged ahead and I think that probably helped to get some things done.”

Bill’s leadership was crucial as the work of the task force was brought to a close and Abbott’s work at Child Health Society started. Bill recruited board members and supporters for the new programs in much the same way as he had recruited support to get those early programs such as Parent Aide, Parents Anonymous and the Crisis Nursery started.

As the 1970s ended and the 1980s began, Bill left the board of the Child Health Society, which changed its name to New Day Parent-Child Society in 1980. Abbott, having assumed more responsibility as the head of the organization, sought out Bill’s wife, Elaine, for help in fundraising. Her energy and drive helped the young organization find its footing and start raising funds as well as awareness.

In 1986, a tossed-off idea about selling Life Savers candies became a CAPS fundraiser that endured for nearly three decades and spawned many similar fundraisers in other communities around the region. Elaine was at the forefront.

“She was very involved with fundraising, very active and involved with the Lifesaver campaign,” Abbott said. “She could get things done.”

Later on, in 1990, Elaine joined the CAPS Board of Directors, serving for six years and continuing to provide dynamic leadership to the organization.

These days, the Marohns are still involved in the community, giving of themselves to help local nonprofits including CAPS, where they are supporting the project to construct a new building for the agency.

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