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Agency helping to prevent child abuse

Peeble's Month of Giving, Robin Stipano and Michele Whinnery, CAC therapist. (Photo submitted)

GLOVERSVILLE – The Child Advocacy Center of Fulton County/ Mental Health Association in Fulton and Montgomery counties held several fundraisers and community outreach programs throughout the month of April.

The Child Advocacy Center is an umbrella agency of the Mental Health Association, which is overseen by the association’s executive director, Janine Dykeman, and board members.

The center receives funding from the state Office of Children and Family Services, fundraisers and personal donations.

The Child Advocacy Center is a safe, child-friendly place where interviews and/ or mental health services can be provided as it relates to alleged physical and sexual abuse.

The multi-disciplinary team members consist of law enforcement, child protection, the district attorney’s office, mental health, medical and victim advocacy services who work together to conduct joint forensic interviews and make team decisions regarding the investigation, treatment and prosecution of child abuse cases. The in-house therapist, Michele Whinnery, is available to treat children’s trauma and aid in their recovery.

Pictured is the Pinwheel Garden. From left, Hamilton County DSS staff Alysa Johnson, Laura Spengler and Gail Carmichael. (Photo submitted)

The Mental Health Association of Fulton and Montgomery counties recently was awarded additional grant funding, through the state Office of Children and Family Services, to open two new child advocacy center satellite offices. The new site in Amsterdam will provide services to Montgomery County and the satellite office in Speculator will serve all of Hamilton County.

Each year, Karen Hasenfuss, the center’s coordinator, plants a pinwheel garden to remind the community of the importance of preventing child abuse and neglect. April was Prevent Child Abuse Month and the blue pinwheel is the national symbol to raise awareness. This year two new pinwheel gardens were added in Hamilton and Montgomery counties.

During the month of April, Peeble’s Department Store in Johnstown held its “Month of Giving”. All customers who donated to the program were given a 30 percent off coupon. Peebles donated all of the funds raised to the center.

On April 24, a chicken parmesan dinner fundraiser was held at the 518 Grille in Amsterdam. The fundraiser was a success, with all proceeds benefitting the Montgomery County satellite office.

“We would like to thank everyone for their support with the fundraisers that were held during the month of April Prevent Child Abuse Month,” said Hasenfuss in a news release. “By working together as a community, we all can play a part in building communities and building hope in children and families.” 

Donations received from Frontier's Network Cost staff, from left, Nicole Hollister, Concetta Sager, Andrea Morris and Karen Hasenfuss, center coordinator. (Photo submitted)

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