Nearly a quarter of the children who entered the doors of the Lincoln County Coalition Against Child Abuse’s Child Advocacy Center this year were residents of the county’s eastern end, Executive Director Sherry Reinhardt told the Times-News on Thursday.
Reinhardt praised the organization’s notable-sized support system in eastern Lincoln County and all across the area.
“Lincoln County is quick to come to the aid of a child,” she said.
The organization will host one of their two annual fundraisers Saturday at Vesuvius Vineyards in Denver. The “Casino Royale Charity Gala” will feature a variety of card games and slot machines along with a silent auction featuring a unique painting of a child’s face and musical entertainment by a local electronic violinist.
Instead of money, participants will play for prizes.
“Place your bets against child abuse,” Reinhardt said. The person who places the largest bet will receive a trophy and free getaway to Pawleys Island, S.C.
The purpose of the event is simple.
“To keep us going,” Reinhardt said. “We run off donations and grants.”
Nonprofit organization officials brainstormed the poker-style theme in order to attract men to the event. Reinhardt noted there are a lot of single fathers in the community.
“We want to educate our fathers,” she said.
This past year, the CAC worked with 160 children, 85 percent of whom were victims of sexual trauma, according to organization officials.
The CAC sees the county’s neglected or severely-abused children — the ones who’ve been sexually or physically assaulted, but there are plenty of other child victims in the area who never walk through the CAC’s doors, Reinhardt said.
She challenges all parents in the community to do the hard work of talking to their children about sexual predators and establish a safety plan. One example is listed on the organization’s website, cac-lincolncounty.org.
Reinhardt regrets not discussing such issues with her own children, now 29 and 27, but promises not to make the same mistake with her grandchildren.
“We play the ‘What if?’ game when they’re in their car seats,” she said. “I’m hoping it (awareness) will be part of my grandchildren’s culture…as common as buckling them in their car seat.”
Reinhardt hopes Lincoln County citizens will recognize both the long-term impact and reality of child abuse, how it could be currently affecting one’s neighbor, friend or family member.
“It has to begin with awareness,” she said. “It (abuse) affects everybody including the teacher struggling to teach that struggling child. It costs the community so much more than just dollars.”
Looking ahead to 2013, CAC officials desire to continue expanding their services to meet county needs.
This was the first year the organization not only had two, rather than one, mental health clinicians available to work with the children but also a parent support group, which commenced in July. The group is helpful for assisting non-offending parents, Reinhardt said.
LCCACA had a rough year securing a number of line items after the state decided to cut back on its funding for nonprofit organizations in 2012.
As a result, starting in November, local dentist offices initiated a friendly competition among themselves in an effort to collect toys and other necessities for the CAC. The office that collects the most items this month will receive a free luncheon from Austin Orthodontics in Lincolnton. All items will be donated to the CAC on Wednesday.
LCCACA is also looking for people to sponsor a handful of area foster children in need of a Christmas this holiday season. Anyone interested in being a sponsor can contact the organization at (704) 736-1155.
This weekend’s “Casino Royale Charity Gala” will be 6-11 p.m. For more information, visit cac-lincolncounty.org or call (704) 736-1155. Some of this year’s sponsors include First Federal Savings Banks, Austin Orthodontics, Sherrill, Blake & Harrison CPA PA and the Timken Foundation.
In addition, LCCACA volunteer Hailey Smith is credited with coordinating the event.
LCCACA, one of only 25 accredited agencies of its kind in the state, plans to host their next large-scale fundraiser, “The Price is Right,” in March at the James W. Warren Citizens Center in Lincolnton.