Film legend's name graces center for abused children;
$6M facility opens in Hackensack
by Yung Kim, The Record (Bergen County, NJ), October 8, 2002
HACKENSACK - Audrey Hepburn's son opened a $6 million center for abused
children Monday, saying the late film star would have been honored to help
hundreds of victims per year.
"My mother felt deeply that a child robbed of their childhood is the greatest
crime," said Sean Ferrer, founder and chairman of the Audrey Hepburn Children's
Ferrer took up the project about five years ago, after conversations with
executives of The Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital at Hackensack University
Medical Center. About half of the project's cost was funded by the federal and
state governments, with the rest of the money collected through fund-raisers and
The three-story brick building on Second Street, named the Audrey Hepburn
Children's House, has been declared a state-designated center for identifying
and treating abuse victims.
Audrey Hepburn was a staunch advocate for children. After a string of
successful movies, she became a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations
Children's Fund, citing the hunger she suffered in wartime Netherlands. She died
of colon cancer in 1993.
On Monday, Sean Ferrer, an actor and producer whose father is the actor Mel
Ferrer, praised the medical center staff for pressing on with the project, and
government officials for pulling together the funding. And he surprised a guest,
the actress Natalie Portman, by declaring her the center's "godmother" and
presenting her with a pair of diamond earrings from Tiffany & Co.
More than 300 children a year are expected to pass through the center, said
Dr. Jeffrey R. Boscamp, chairman of the hospital's pediatrics department.
The center was built so that doctors and counselors can draw out painful
stories from confused, scared children. The waiting room alone contains a
children's desk arrayed with toys, games, and crayons.
"Every room is designed so a child feels comfortable, so that they feel they
can open up," Boscamp said.