How It All Began...
Defenders For Children Grassroot Organization - Founded in 2010
Toni Clark was deeply disturbed to learn about the prevalence of child abuse in Greenville and the Upstate. “Greenville has become my family’s home, and the more I learned about it (child abuse), the more convinced I became that someone needed to do something to stop it,” Toni says with conviction. Her Husband, Ken Clark, adds, “It wasn’t long before it became clear that we were that someone.” With support from Ken, his business associates and customers at Thermal Resources, and a handful of like-minded friends, Toni founded Defenders for Children (DFC). This organization aims to prevent child abuse by raising community awareness and educating the public. Toni’s family are some of her biggest supporters. Ken, Kyle, and Anna readily volunteer their time and talents for DFC. It is a continually evolving organization, launching many programs that reach different stakeholders in the community and supporting other non-profit organizations that provide services to victims of abuse. From Blankets of Hope, a program that has provided handmade blankets to over 1,300 children, to Cast Against Abuse, which took children from group homes on professional fishing excursions, and many others, DFC’s programs are varied and unique. Even so, they remain united in their purpose to provide the community with ways to support abuse victims.
It's not easy keeping an organization like this running. The programs are funded by donations from the community. But even when finances for the Clark family were tight, Ken encouraged Toni to continue with DFC, and they all made the sacrifices necessary to keep the programs going and expanding. "Ken always said we are doing the right thing by helping the children," Toni says.
The program that currently has Toni’s heart and the focus of DFC is their Electronic Detection K9 Project. DFC is continuously raising funds to place electronic detection K9s with law enforcement agencies to investigate crimes against children. Toni explains, “Criminals have moved away from transmitting images of child abuse and trafficking over the internet. Instead, they hide these images on storage devices such as SD cards and removable hard drives that are virtually impossible for law enforcement to locate. That’s where Electronic Detection
K9s can help. They can sniff out an average of two devices per search, the ones that humans can’t find. Having those devices in hand gives law enforcement the evidence they need to prosecute these criminals.” Toni is proud to say that Defenders for Children was able to make a gift of a K9 and handler training to the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. “Queue,” an English Labrador Retriever, is an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force officer working alongside his handler, Sergeant Michael Rainey. Queue has assisted in many searches locating hundreds of devices law enforcement would have missed. Those searches led to several arrests.
Seeing these incredible results urges Toni to make this program more widely available. In response, DFC has launched a new campaign called 180 Turn-Around. The goal is to raise enough funds to place Electronic K9s throughout South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, and Louisiana. The southeast region of the United States. They can place a K9 in any agency throughout the United States with the help of a donor and acceptance of the Sheriff's Office. Donations of any amount are accepted, and there is even an opportunity for a company or individual to purchase and name a K9 to be placed with law enforcement. “Once donated, the K9 can work for over eight years with law enforcement. This program will bring positive results by prosecuting criminals and rescuing children for over eight years, which is amazing.”
Toni Encourages each of you to do your part in protecting the children and consider donating to help place the extraordinary Electronic Detection K9s to help save children’s lives.
We currently have Six Electronic Detection K9s within South Carolina, and our first in Georgia was placed in 2022. Each K9 works with Law Enforcement to help with cases involving children.
CEO - Executive Director/Founder
Ken Clark - Defenders For Children - Secretary
Regional Manager for Thermal Resource Solutions in the Upstate of South Carolina and Western North Carolina. Specializing in Air Quality, Distribution of Commercial and Industrial Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration & Plumbing equipment & systems for the Construction industry. A Graduate of the University of Central Florida in Engineering. I moved to the Upstate of South Carolina in 2000. Ken has supported Defenders For Children since its launch in 2010, serving as the Secretary of the Organization. The need is enormous; many children need our help & protection from evil child predators.
When I am not working or helping children;
I like to traveling, golfing, fishing, and enjoying great food & friends, and family.
Board Of Angels
The board of women is strong, caring, and determined to do what they can to stand behind Defenders For Childrens Mission to help save and protect children. Each board member has supported us for many years and asked for nothing in return. They are true Angels because that has shown for many years that they care about God's Children.
Carolyn Robinson is a lifelong resident of Greenville, South Carolina. After majoring in finance at Winthrop University, Carolyn went to work in the family business, International Plastics, Inc., where she became the CFO. She has been involved with the business her entire career and helped it grow from 3 to 47 employees.
Carolyn has been married to Jim for over 34 years. They have a daughter and a son, who are both in college.
Carolyn supports Defenders for Children and strongly believes in the mission and vision to protect children in the city, state, and beyond. She counts it an honor and privilege to work with Toni and to serve as a board member of this great organization.
Her interests outside of work include travel, design, and staying active with her family.
Dr. Laura Leduc
I work as an Anesthesiologist at Prisma full-time, which is how we came to live in SC. We love the area and have made it our home since 2015. My husband Craig and I have three children and two dogs. I met Toni shortly after relocating to SC and have been an advocate for Defenders for Children ever since. My husband Craig is also dedicated to DFC; we have enjoyed getting to know Toni, Ken, and the DFC team. I hope to help DFC expand into other regions - especially NJ, where I grew up.
When I am not working or helping children:
I enjoy year-round biking and an excellent long lake season (as compared with the Northeast)!
I have been a Greenville, South Carolina, resident for 23 years, Originally from Louisiana. She enjoys Real Estate working with Real Estate Shoppe. I have four children and 13 grandchildren. Defender for children has touched my heart since I first met Toni. I believe that we must do all we can to protect our children from sex trafficking and abuse.
When I am not working, I enjoy helping children
I’d like to say I have a pastime, but my fiancé would say it’s my family! It is!
I was born and raised in Upstate, SC. in my 20's, my husband of 30 years moved to Florida to build our lives and careers. We are entrepreneurs, and our background consists of R.E. Development and leading the way in the health and wellness industry. So sadly, my husband Jimbo passed in early 2022. My world came tumbling down, as you can imagine. I have now found my energy towards something that has been near and dear to my heart since the beginning of Defenders For Children in 2010. I have joined Toni Clark and her fight for the right of children from abuse; I stand beside the mission to bring justice for children and stop those who are hurting them. We will be their voice because they are silenced and fight for them where they have no power to fight.
When I am not working or helping children;
In my space and time, I enjoy reading, working out, traveling abroad, and watching great shows on Netflix.
Jennifer Notar graduated from the University of South Carolina with a business degree. She has two beautiful children, ages sixteen and eighteen. When Queue came into commission, Jennifer immediately took care of Queue’s nutrition with Nature’s Select and continued for four and a half years. Now Nature’s Select of the Carolinas continues to support Queue for the rest of her life. Having a passion for dogs while owning companies in the dog industry for twenty years, she is dedicated to supporting the mission of protecting children with these Electronic k9 dogs.
When she is not working or helping children;
She likes to stay active by walking, running, biking, and all things holistic.