With most fundraising halted last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BridgeHaven Children’s Advocacy Center has a lot of ground to make up in 2021. The pandemic lockdowns also were particularly detrimental to children living in abusive homes as their opportunities to make an outcry were limited, added Megan Croker, BridgeHaven CAC outreach manager.
“A lot of times when there are breaks in school, the children are at home, oftentimes with their abusers. When they get back to school, they disclose about the abuse to their teachers because school is where they feel safe,” Croker said.
Last month alone, BridgeHaven CAC conducted 41 interviews with children who had made an outcry of abuse. Croker said more children were served by BridgeHaven CAC in 2020 than in 2019.
“Our mission is to give hope to the children of Liberty and Chambers counties who are victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and foster a working relationship with the government agencies of the two counties assigned to protect and defend those victims,” Croker said. “Any time a child makes an outcry of abuse they are brought to our office. That’s where we conduct a forensic interview to gather all of the details around the abuse for the purpose of prosecution.”
The support from advocates continue when the child’s case reaches the court system.
“Each interview is videoed and recorded but that does not take the place of the child in court. The child still has to testify in court. We have family advocates who work with the victims and explain the process. Our judges allow advocates to be in court with the child, sometimes standing right next to them as they are testifying against their abuser,” Croker said. “It’s a familiar face for them. Can you imagine how hard it must be for a child to testify in court while seeing their abuser staring at them.”
In order continue their mission, BridgeHaven needs the support of the community. One person who recently answered the call for help is Meadow Noyer, an AllState insurance agent in Liberty. During the month of January, Noyer promised to contribute $20 for every insurance quote she provided through Quotes #quotesforacause. On Tuesday, Noyer delivered a $250 check to BridgeHaven CAC. The money will be put to good use, said Janet Lucatero, BridgeHaven CAC administration manager.
“We are given grants but in order to stay in good standing, we must fundraise. If we receive a $1,000 federal or state grant, the protocol is we must raise $200, or 20 percent, to match it, but grants also can’t buy everything we need. We have given out clothes, personal hygiene items and other items to the children we assist, which come from the funds we raise,” said Lucatero.
With their usual auctions and fundraisers paused, BridgeHaven employees have gotten creative and have a few fundraisers planned for the month of April, which happens to be Child Abuse Awareness Month.
“We will be holding an online auction from April 26 to May 3. We are trying to focus that auction on Mother’s Day items, things you might buy for your mom for the holiday,” Lucatero said. The auction will be conducted on BridgeHaven’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/bridgehavencactx/
BridgeHaven is also selling T-shirts and yard signs for Chlld Abuse Awareness Month. The T-shirts are $15 each for sizes small through extra-large with an additional $2 added for larger sizes. The yard signs are $12 each.
To order a T-shirt or yard sign, call 936-258-0400 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.