After moving locations over the summer, Lincoln County Coalition Against Child Abuse is already seeing major improvements in its ability to conduct new programs and assist more families.
The organization, previously housed behind the Health Department on Sigmon Road in Lincolnton, is now located on Policarp Street in a more modern facility.
The organization moved into the new location in July and is benefiting greatly from two major changes in particular.
The new facility is both handicap-accessible and technologically up-to-date, said Executive Director Sherry Reinhardt, who marks her second anniversary as LCCACAâ€™s head at the end of this month.
â€œWe can now serve more families at a time and preserve their dignity,â€ she said.
Previously, employees could only serve one child at a time due to limited space.
â€œWe had outgrown the building,â€ Reinhardt noted.
Currently, a child can be interviewed at the center simultaneously to another child receiving care for medical or mental health, a new service that the organization now offers to families.
Additional facility space also allows the organization to teach weekly and sometimes weekend classes on â€œRecognizing and Reporting Child Abuse,â€ officials said.
LCCACA is currently seeking to concentrate its resources on â€œevidence-based programsâ€ that have a proven and effective track record.
â€œPrograms that keep their focus on our communityâ€™s well-being â€” programs that are also a financially responsible choice â€¦ ensuring that all children in Lincoln County can live in safe, stable, nurturing environments,â€ Reinhardt said.
In addition, because the organizationâ€™s previous location, a trailer, was nearly three decades old with a weak floor and leaky roof, Reinhardt commends the â€œsafe, child-friendlyâ€ aspect of the new facility and considers it one of the more notable upgrades since switching locations, offering families a more comforting environment in traumatic times.
Over the past four years, since LCCACAâ€™s Child Advocacy Center was established in Lincoln County, the organization has relied heavily on volunteer aid.
Volunteers greatly assist center employees with fundraising, a much-needed area that may neglect to exist without the communityâ€™s help, Reinhardt noted.
â€œIf it werenâ€™t for volunteers, we couldnâ€™t raise funds,â€ she said.
Officials revealed how a majority of Child Advocacy Centers outside of Lincoln County are privileged to receive funding through both grants and the religious community, an area where Reinhardt hopes to soon set the organizationâ€™s sights.
â€œThe CAC hasnâ€™t covered that area yet,â€ she said.
However, the countyâ€™s LCCACA relies heavily on fundraisers and donations as a way of raising its funds, and that is exactly what the organization is attempting to do in order to pay of the $75,000 bill theyâ€™ve accrued over the year.
A majority of the expense stems from much-needed facility changes that authorities didnâ€™t anticipate or budget for prior to moving into the new building, Reinhardt said.
Changes included making the building technology-advanced and ADA adaptable (i.e. handicap accessible) for families and volunteers, two of whom have physical disabilities, Reinhardt said.
She praised the volunteer staff for their continued support.
â€œOn behalf of every tiny, scared victim I see enter the CAC, I thank you Lincolnton/Lincoln County â€¦ and urge you to continue,â€ she said.
A majority of LCCACAâ€™s volunteers are children who work to receive teddy bear donations for abused children in addition to working on construction projects and hosting snack/juice drives.
Both Reinhardtâ€™s 20-year work with Pathways in Lincolnton, where she served as an educator for severe and profound developmentally children, and LCCACAâ€™s close-knit working relationship with the countyâ€™s Department of Social Services, have given her ample experience to assist child abuse victims.
â€œWe see it first-hand,â€ she said.
â€œYou canâ€™t imagine how it makes you have the desire to do more on the prevention end of child abuse. Iâ€™m extremely thankful â€¦ to serve children.â€
LCCACAâ€™s upcoming fundraiser, â€œHome For The Holidays Gala,â€ is set to take place Nov. 19 at Vesuvius Vineyards.
The annual Denver event is a community-wide affair centered on fighting child abuse. To purchase tickets or to become an event sponsor, call 704-736-1155.
JENNA-LEY HARRISON, Staff Writer