Non-profits highlighted at Dayton Chamber luncheon

Jessica Sims led her last Dayton Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday. The former chamber CEO has accepted an employment opportunity with First Liberty National Bank.

Volunteer and non-profit organizations are the backbone of any community, helping to serve unmet needs and to connect people in meaningful ways. On Tuesday, May 10, five non-profit organizations that serve all of Liberty County were highlighted by the Dayton Chamber of Commerce at its monthly membership luncheon.

The following is a brief look at each of the organizations:

Universal Agape Love

This Dayton-based non-profit, led by Stephanie Nickerson and Wendy Soliday, provides peer support groups, counseling, advocacy, training, education and outreach.

Nickerson explained that the programs are designed to go beyond the “cookie cutter” approach and work toward holistic healing. Some of the ways they help is through marriage counseling, drug and alcohol use counseling and assisting children who have aged out of the foster care system in finding a placement when they have nowhere else to go.

UAL has also recently teamed up with regional veterans organizations to focus on reducing the suicide rate and opioid drug use among veterans.

For more information on UAL, call 936-262-7800 or 936-681-8031, or send email to email@universalagapelove.org.

Bridgehaven Children’s Advocacy Center

On any given day in Liberty County, case managers with Bridgehaven Children’s Advocacy Center in Dayton are interviewing the latest child victim of sexual assault. Last year, Bridgehaven CAC assisted with 426 interviews with victims, an average of 1-2 per day.

“That’s a lot,” said Stephanie Quigley, a spokesperson for Bridgehaven CAC, which serves Liberty and Chambers counties. “Our goal is to give hope to children going through physical, sexual or emotional abuse. We offer forensic interviews that are recorded, so that victims who come to us have to tell their story just one time.”

The goal is to minimize the trauma for young victims who are part of a child abuse investigation. The forensic interviews are used to determine if a criminal case is warranted against the person or persons perpetrating the alleged abuse. Bridgehaven CAC works closely with law enforcement, prosecutors, Children’s Protective Services caseworkers and mental and medical providers.

The organization also offers SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) tests for rape and sexual assault victims.

For more information on Bridgehaven CAC, call 936-258-0400.

CASA of Liberty and Chambers Counties

As a child abuse victim’s case moves through the court system and removal from a home, that’s where the Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Liberty and Chambers Counties gets involved.

“When a child is removed from their home, we are a voice for that child while they are in CPS care,” said Melanie Cotten, a spokesperson for CASA.

Trained CASA volunteers are appointed by a judge to help the court make the most well-informed decisions about a child’s case. In 2020, there were 11,066 CASA volunteers, serving 29,229 children of the approximately 47,913 children in the child welfare system in the United States. There are 950 CASA programs in the United States, 72 of which are in Texas.

In Liberty County, there are 144 children in the CASA program with 10 cases currently without a volunteer coordinator. Each coordinator is assisting with about 20 cases at any given time.

CASA volunteers must be willing to spend an average of 10-15 hours per week working on their cases, be able to effectively read, write and speak, be willing to complete hours of training, pass criminal and CPS background checks and be over 21 years of age.

For more information on CASA of Liberty and Chambers Counties, call 936-334-9000 or send email to info@casalctx.org.

Cotten shared the following video to illustrate the importance of a CASA volunteer. It’s a must watch, so please click the link:

Footprints for the Kingdom

New to the non-profit organizations in Liberty County is Footprints for the Kingdom, established by Diane Mayhew, a realtor from the Cleveland area.

Mayhew said she established the organization in 2020 after recognizing an unmet need for shoes and socks. Though most of her donations go toward helping children, Mayhew said the organization has purchased steel-toed boots for people in order for them to attain employment.

At a recent event in Cleveland, Footprints for the Kingdom provided shoes and socks to 200 families.

“There was a line stretched around the Cleveland Civic Center,” Mayhew said, recalling the event. “God put these non-profits in our hearts to be the hands and feet of God.”

Mayhew said she works full-time as a realtor mainly to pay for the shoes and socks she donates in the community. Her mom contributes by sewing or crocheting tote bags for the shoes and socks.

If you missed the other event, Footprints for the Kingdom is planning a back-to-school event on July 30, from 10 a.m. to noon, at New Life Baptist Church, 10500 Plum Grove Road, in Cleveland.

For more information on Footprints for the Kingdom, call 281-622-9836 or send email to footprintsforthekingdom@gmail.com. Be sure to follow Footprints for the Kingdom on Facebook.

Family Time Crisis and Counseling Center

With a motto of “From Surviving to Thriving,” Family Time Crisis and Counseling Center works to provide services and programs to promote mental health and support for domestic and sexual violence victims.

The organization has a 24-hour hotline where people can seek help from a crisis counselor. Oftentimes, adult and child victims of domestic and sexual violence need a safe place to stay, and Family Time Crisis and Counseling Center has a temporary safe housing program to meet those needs.

Family Time Crisis and Counseling Center also assists victims in the criminal and civil legal system, and provides hospital accompaniment for victims, professional counseling, and parenting and anger management classes.

For more information, call 936-257-9744, send email to info@familytimeccc.org, or go online to https://familytimeccc.org/.

UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENT

Chamber CEO Jessica Sims announced that the annual Taste of Dayton will be held on Thursday, June 9, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Dayton Community Center.

Taste of Dayton is an opportunity for businesses to market and network themselves to members of the community. Last year, 500 people were in attendance.

This year’s theme is “Road Trip Across America.” Each booth at the event will feature a different state’s cuisine and characteristics. Booth prices vary based on location and access to electricity.

Admission on the day of the event is $5 for adults, $3 for children 3-12 or free for children 3 and under.

For more information or to sign up for a booth, call 936-257-2393.

Tuesday was the last meeting for Sims as Chamber CEO as she is leaving for an employment opportunity with First Liberty National Bank.

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