Child advocacy center to use Greek Week donation to expand
One out of every four girls and every six boys in Isabella County will be sexually abused by the time they are 18 years old, according to Kim Seidel, executive director of the Isabella County Child Advocacy Center.
With this in mind, the Isabella County Child Advocacy Center aims to help protect children who are victims of sexual or physical abuse and helps the families prone to these situations. The center also raises awareness of the issue in the community through education programs. This year, Central Michigan University’s Greek fraternities and sororities donated $41,750 to the center with proceeds raised during Greek Week. They money will be used to help establish sustainability in its programs.
“(The advocacy center) is acknowledging something that exists and is in a lot of kid’s reality,” said Andrea Mills, the forensic interviewer at the center. “We are here to help find them at that place and make it as smooth and as comfortable as we possibly can.”
Siedel said the donated funds from Greek Week will greatly help the child advocacy center’s efforts.
“(This donation) is going to give us stability,” she said. “The money is going to support and help everything we do, including prevention education for the community.”
The advocacy center shares a building with other local groups and businesses. The Greek Week money will be used to relocate and expand its office. That way, the team will have their own space and can better specialize in a more efficient system to meet its goals, Siedel explained.
The team is looking into new locations.
The center has already helped 50 children between the ages of 3 and 17 this year by using a system involving forensic interviewing and collaboration.
“Working together in a collaborative approach results in effective, efficient and child-centered case work,” Seidel said. “(Our team) prevents a child from having to endure multiple interviews.”
The center guides struggling families toward help and refers them to other resources and services when needed, Seidel added. They work to consider victimized children first, in collaboration with law enforcement and Child Protective Services.
The team works together to help families heal, said Sami Humphrey, a family advocate at the center. They also personally follow up with the families that go through the center for support.
“We are working to empower family members to look for signs, have a conversation, and just shedding light on the issue of sexual abuse and physical abuse,” Siedel said.
The center facilitates a program for first grade students that teaches children they are in charge of their own bodies and they have the power to speak out if they ever feel unsafe.
“Ultimately, we are helping to create teamwork with the goal to benefit these kids, families and community,” Mills said.
Two senior Central Michigan University students work as interns at the child advocacy center — Macomb native Jordyn Dean and Hillsdale native Elizabeth Bumpus. They are responsible for office duties and planning events.
The interns are organizing “Zoo in the Park,” which will take place from noon to 4 p.m. on June 17 at child advocacy center, located at 2480 West Campus Drive, Suite B100. The event will bring together 300 Isabella County families to participate in 20 activity stations.
“(The interns) have done everything,” Seidel said. “These ladies have really designed (Zoo in the Park). There’s no way this could have been possible without Jordyn and Elizabeth taking the lead.”
The Isabella Child Advocacy Center accepts interns every semester. Openings and opportunities for volunteering and internships can be found at the center’s website at www.isabellacac.org.
Dean said the child advocacy center was the perfect place to intern because she wants to work with children for her career and thinks it’s important to be involved and educated on issues affecting them.
“It’s good to be involved in an organization like this because it helps to spread the word,” Bumpus agreed. “It gives a good background (on) advocacy regardless of what your future goal is.”
Those interested or seeking the advocacy center’s services can visit their website or office or call (989) 774-6444 for more information.