Kicking off Child Abuse Prevention Month, The Guardian Center held its annual fundraising banquet. The Child Advocacy Center has certainly grown over the last 16 years, from a volunteer Social Worker and an intern when the center was founded in 1999 to a staff of 8 serving 8 counties. The Guardian Center is headquartered in Carmi with 3 satellite offices in Robinson, Mt. Carmel and Harrisburg and serves children in White, Gallatin, Saline, Edwards, Wabash, Richland, Lawrence and Crawford Counties.
Looking at hard numbers does two things. Positively, it shows how important and needed the services provided are. Negatively, it shows how important and needed the services provided are. In the last year, The Guardian Center conducted more than 164 interviews with children age 3 – 18 and assisted more than 170 in total. Eighty-nine percent of those children knew their abuser. More than 30 specialized exams were necessary. And more than 530 school age children took part in safety programs designed for children Pre K – 8th grade.
In addition to staff members, The Guardian Center is run by a board of Directors including President Rich Zirkelbach, Treasurer Debbie Hoskins, Austin Rahmoeller with the finance committee, Ayn Bartok with the personnel committee, Eric Gregg with the personnel committee, Gwen Basinger the multi disciplinary team liaison, Geoff Hodgson, and Carrie Hammell. The staff is made up of Krystal Hicks, Mistie McQueen, Nicole Bradfield, Teresa Miller, Katharine Bovenkerk, Peyton Farmer, Carmeta Bingman and Executive Director Sheryl Woodham.
The Center serves as a community response to child abuse. In addition to the dinner, an auction was held. Altogether, Woodham expects nearly $9,000 was raised at the banquet.
Also, a powerful, inspirational keynote was given by successful contractor C. David Moody. Moody runs one of the nation’s largest contracting companies and is a survivor himself of sexual abuse as a child. He now leads efforts in creating safe places for survivors to heal.
C. David Moody is a man who held a dark secret for years and has had to dig deep to find a way to build himself back up into the successful man he is today. Moody was sexually abused as a child, kept quiet for years and it wasn’t until years later when panic attacks took over his life that he was forced to face it. It was the Penn State scandal that was the tipping point for Moody in saying he’d had enough and he felt he had to speak out.
“I just got so angry thinking that people left those boys with this coach and people were turning their heads. But I also got angry with how all the articles and magazines…they always make survivors look so sad and that’s another reason I had to speak up. But we’re not. I mean a lot of us, myself included, were hurting but we still smile. We still have things to be happy about. So my focus is helping people see that we can not only survive, but we can thrive. We can do some incredible things. It takes some work, but this doesn’t have to control us. I decided I just wasn’t going to let my abuser control my whole life. I will live with this my entire life, but it doesn’t have to be a negative my entire life.
Since then, he’s become a leader in the Child Advocacy arena, appearing on the TLC documentary “Breaking The Silence” along with last year’s guest program Erin Merryn, the driving force behind Erin’s law. In addition to speaking, Moody has createdhttps://www.moodyspeaks.com. In his own words,
“Its where I started telling my journey. I have a Survivor’s Corner where other survivors have shared their stories. There’s a resource page with plenty of contact information surrounding help and prevention. In the next 3 to 4 weeks, my book will be on sale there. It’s a place for people to go in private, safely who are thinking about being a survivor, or a loved one of a survivor where they can go and get information from different organizations in a private setting and go at their own pace. There may be some people who never speak up and that’s ok, but they need to know information is available and that’s what I want to provide, a safe and private place for people who need it to be able to get that information.”
Moody will be sharing his story and sharing the help he’s had, the help he wishes was available when he was young and what he’s working to make sure anyone who suffers from abuse has if they need it. As for what the audience gets out of his engagement, for which he’ll accept no payment…hope.
“I want people to get hope…those who need hope. One thing I’ve learned through this journey is when you have hope, you can do someincredible things. I want people who feel they’re all alone to know that they’re not alone. I want to give some people who don’t know how to help a loved one some pointers and learn some things on how to help a loved one. And I want to help anyone who’s trying to figure out how to take the first step…I wanna give them some steps they can take on this journey to help find some of the healing that they’re after.”
Rounding out the night was the Friend of the Year award, this year won by Greg Brown. Brown and his family have been instrumental throughout the years in contributing to programs benefiting the area’s youth. He’s recently been finishing up work on the Archie Brown Memorial Park, a softball field bequeathed to the school for use by the Carmi White County softball teams. That same tract of land on Stewart Street is also going to be home to a Jr. Pro practice facility. Furthermore, Brown has worked to bring a baseball and softball practice facility near the airport called Big Mister Practice HQ. Brown said, “I am who I am because of God and I couldn’t do what I do today without my parents, namely my dad and my uncle. The reason I do what I do is for my wife and my kids. It’s hard to see other kids that don’t have the opportunity or the home life sometimes to do some of those things. It’s just human nature to want to help somebody. I’m just trying to repay a debt I’ll never be able to repay.”
The Guardian Center is active on facebook and can also be found online at https://www.theguardiancenter.org. The facility is headquartered at 1124 Oak Street in Carmi and can be reached by calling 618-382-8247.