Children’s Advocacy Center seeks donations to offset fundraising loss

  • Many people participated in the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin’s inaugural road race in 2019, raising $15,000 the first year. This year, the center had to hold a virtual event because of the COVID-19 pandemic and raised $5,000. The center is asking for end-of-the-year donations to offset fundraising losses. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • WOODS

Staff Writer
Published: 12/29/2020 5:51:51 PM

GREENFIELD — The Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin was not able to hold its annual Hope and Healing Breakfast or its Race Against Child Abuse road race this year because of the pandemic. But, nonetheless, it remained open anyway.

Executive Director Irene Woods said as 2020 comes to a close, the center is looking to those who would have attended the two events, along with others who might not have donated in the past, to “make a generous donation” to the center so it can continue to offer children a place to tell their story and begin the journey of healing.

In 2019, Woods said the annual breakfast raised $35,000. This year, it held a virtual event and raised $14,000. Meanwhile, the road race raised $15,000 in 2019, its first year, and $5,000 in a virtual version this year. Between the two events, the center raised $31,000 less than last year.

“When the pandemic struck in March, children were isolated from their schools, community programs and day cares,” Woods said. “The Children’s Advocacy Center was determined and committed to remain open for the children and our community members.”

And so it did stay open, though it had to make some changes, she said. The agency took steps to ensure everyone’s safety by installing a Plexiglas wall in the interview room and obtaining air purifiers and personal protective equipment.

“We offered a safe, confidential, child-friendly setting for children to talk about sexual abuse, to offer services to kids who were exploited on the internet and meet families’ basic needs with food and clothing,” Woods said. “It was one of our biggest challenges. The district attorney’s office does forensic interviews, but early on in the pandemic had quarantined, so had to do interviews via Zoom from the child’s home. That was potentially a dangerous situation for some children, as we never knew who might be listening from another room.”

Woods said an important piece of the center’s work is making sure children are safe and that their interviews are confidential.

“Some interviews are still done by Zoom, but the child comes to the center with one parent and does it from a private room,” she said.

The other challenge, Woods said, was raising money. She said the center received some grants, but not enough to make up for what it lost by not being able to hold in-person fundraising events.

Kellie Beaulieu, unit coordinator, advocate and forensic interviewer for the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, said the past nine months have been filled with challenges that few of those involved with the center could have even imagined.

“Through it all ... the Children’s Advocacy Center has never stopped reaching out, offering support to children and families who need it,” she said. “From providing masks to having a clear divider built into the interview room to ensuring that the equipment is working just right, the center has been looking out for the safety and well-being of families and team members alike. While the saying is that it takes a village to raise a child, we know that it also takes a village to protect a child. Irene, Sam and Joanne have all worked tirelessly to ensure that our village is safe and functioning as it should so that we can all continue this important work.”

To donate or to learn more about the Children’s Advocacy Center, call 413-475-3401 or visit cacfranklinnq.org. Checks can me mailed to: Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin, P.O. Box 1099, Greenfield, MA 01302-1099.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.



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