“It’s remarkable,” Advocates President and CEO Patty Eagar said, referring to the public’s continued support. “People say, ‘Oh, what a great organization you have.’
“But it just would not be anywhere near having the impact that we’re able to have without the fact that we have had some wonderful boards of directors and lots of community support, lots of companies that want to help us, lots of churches that do things for us and contribute, amazing volunteers that want to run our Duck Derby and our Spring Benefit and ‘Every Child’s a Star.’ The Exchange Club gives us half the proceeds from the parade every year. There are just so many people who now know who we are and what we do and want to be partners with us.”
While Tuesday’s anniversary gathering will be an opportunity for Advocates to show its appreciation to invited guests, it also will be a time for reflection.
“Back in 1983, a group of concerned citizens did a survey of the community and determined that the biggest unmet need for children was a children’s shelter — a place for kids to go when they have been removed from their homes — so they didn’t have to go sleep on the couch at [Department of Family and Children Services],” Eagar said. “They got together and said, ‘Well, we need to make this happen.’
“So Judge [Bert] Crane, Nancy Newman and a whole bunch of people decided to make this happen. So two years later, they moved [this organization] into a building that no longer exists that was across the street from the backside of the current courthouse and that was the first children’s shelter. Over the years, the group grew and the need for services continued to expand, and the boards every so often said, ‘Yes, we’re willing to take on a new program.’”
A Cartersville nonprofit, Advocates currently serves about 2,600 area youth each year through the Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter and providing services that assist in the awareness, prevention and treatment of child abuse. Some of the programs that the nonprofit has added through the years are First Steps, Rainbows, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Project Safe Place, TransParenting and A Better Way Children’s Advocacy Center.
At the beginning of the year, Advocates launched its newest program, Hope in Your Home. Providing parenting education in the participants’ homes, the training is geared toward at-risk families with young children. By receiving additional parenting skills, Eagar said the hope is that the program will help prevent additional children needing to be placed in state custody.
“I just cannot explain how wonderful it is to see the growth and the involvement of this community over these 30 years,” Newman said. “... In the beginning, it was just the children’s shelter. Then it began to grow. So to look at what can be done with a community that cares and reaches out and is aware of the needs of children — ... that has been the most rewarding thing.
“[I also have seen] the strength of the board. There were times, quite honestly, in the beginning, it was an effort to educate the public that there were needs like this in their own community. You sometimes can go through life and not be aware they’re children that are abandoned and neglected and abused and they were right there under our nose and they weren’t being cared for. So this was a wonderful step in the right direction 30 years ago.”
For more information about Advocates, call 770-387-1143 or visit www.AdvoChild.org.