SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Empathy defines the life of WSAV’s Remarkable Women finalist Rose Grant-Wiseman, an advocate with a mission to never leave any child behind.

“Kids just want you to listen to them; they just want you to sit down and to just hear what they have to say. Sometimes we think, ‘Oh this doesn’t mean anything,’ but it means a lot to that child. It’s everything to that child,” the executive director of the Coastal Children Advocacy Center explained.

With years devoted to listening, it’s her big heart that the Savannah leader uses to see the world through a child’s eyes — helping them work through some of the most difficult moments in their lives.

“A lot of times with trauma, it causes so much more harm. It harms your health; it harms the way you think about things. It also can harm a community because when kids are hurt, they hurt back,” Rose said.

With more than 20 years as an advocate working with people of all ages dealing with emotional and physical trauma, the community leader said compassion for others led her to a career connecting thousands of families with the resources to heal.

“We work with children who are either physically or sexually abused. We work with kids from the age of 3 until the age of 17 who have been victimized, and our job here is to make sure that we can convey their story in a way that is their story, not ours,” Rose explained.

In the United States, one in seven kids experiences physical abuse or neglect. Every year the Coastal Children’s Advocacy Center sees hundreds of kids who walk through their doors hoping to be healed.

“The need is significant. I know in the beginning of the shelter in place, we had more kiddo cases than ever before. A lot of the kids were unsupervised, their parents were essential workers,” said Doris Williams the executive director for the Rape Crisis Center describing the uptick in cases during the pandemic.

Fighting to keep the advocacy center open throughout the pandemic, Rose said she didn’t want the people who needed their help to ever feel like they were alone.

“They are already going through one type of trauma, then now, we’ve got the pandemic on top of it, too,” she said. “So a lot of kids are depressed, suicide comes along with that issue. So, you know, it makes us want to work harder to provide.”

Even with ongoing budget cuts, clients, staff and community are the first priority for the leader, mother and friend who is known as someone you can count on.

“We see kids who go hungry, who don’t have the things they need. Just even small things like little toys,” Rose explained. “I have a son and when he was little, all he ever wanted was little racing cars. And back then, they were only a dollar at Kroger, but sometimes people can’t even afford to buy those little things.”

Alexis Mack, a parent support specialist and forensic interviewer at the Coastal Children’s Advocacy Center, said Rose never laid off any staff throughout the pandemic, even when they were undergoing federal cuts.

“You just hear what people are going through, as far as not having a job or just curious of what’s going to happen next, and I can say as an employee, I have been blessed not to worry about what’s next,” Mack stated.

“She has that spark. She has that love, that drive for her clients,” Williams added.

Making sure no voice goes unheard was the motivation behind the Hispanic Outreach Center Rose built during a time when many were cutting back resources.

“She really leads with her heart. She don’t like people to know that, but she does,” Williams explained, adding her admiration for the community leader who inspired others to innovate ways to keep their resources available to the people who rely on them.

Dr. Kendall Johnson, a mentor for Rose, said she is proud to see who she’s become: “She doesn’t hesitate to go the extra mile to help anyone who reaches out to her.”

“She is so caring and so loving, and she doesn’t require anything from you. She sees the best version of me, but I think every day I get to see the best version of her,” Mack added.

Using her love for others to make sure no family is left behind, Rose hopes ever child who walks through the advocacy center’s doors knows their trauma does not define them.

“It’s much better to try to take care of a child’s well-being and make sure they’re mentally stable, than to deal with an adult. We have to start now, and Rose is at that critical state,” Williams explained.

When asked about how she hopes to be remembered, Rose said she wants to do everything she can to make sure she reaches “the one.”

“I think my legacy will always just want to be the one person you can count on. If Rose don’t know the answer, she’s going to find the answer for you. And that’s the main goal for me, just making sure I find the answer.”

WSAV News 3’s Jessica Coombs is featuring four Remarkable Women throughout March, Women’s History Month.

The finalists, chosen from nominations throughout the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry, will be featured every Tuesday on-air and online.

The winner of WSAV’s contest will be announced in April and will then be considered for the “Nexstar Woman of the Year” award.