February 1, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – Children from Adrian who suffer abuse will no longer have to bear the added trauma of repeating their story countless times to law enforcement officials and counselors, thanks to the new Child Advocacy Center (CAC) of Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee, and Hillsdale County.
Catholic Charities showcased its new facility and hosted an official ribbon-cutting ceremony January 26. Attending were Catholic Charities staff and board members, as well as interested and concerned community members – including Sister Pam Millenbach, OP, who ministers at the facility, and several other Adrian Dominican Sisters. Before and after the formal ceremony, community members had the opportunity to tour the new facility.
The Adrian-based CAC serves as a base where professionals – law enforcement officers, representatives from the prosecutor’s office, counselors, and public health officials – can coordinate their efforts so traumatized children only have to tell their story once. Meetings between the child and a forensic interviewer are videotaped so other concerned agencies have access to the information revealed in the interview. The multi-disciplined team can then work together to decide on the most effective ways to help the child and his or her family, and to proceed with investigations and legal action against the abuser.
The CAC is a collaborative effort of the Lenawee County law enforcement agencies, the Lenawee County Prosecutor’s Office, Child Protective Services, ProMedica, the University of Michigan Child Protective Team, and Catholic Charities. The CAC also received financial support from local organizations, including the Adrian Dominican Sisters, in the form of a Ministry Trust grant.
Sister Pam, who ministers in foster care for Catholic Charities in Adrian, affirmed the need to limit the trauma that children often face when repeating the story of their abuse. The CAC facility is designed not only to streamline the process of informing professionals of the child’s experience, but also to help the child and family members feel safe. The building includes a sunny, brightly colored playroom where children can relax and feel safe, Sister Pam explained.
Sister Pam noted that children have already made use of the new CAC facility.
Sister Barbara Jean Quincey, OP, a member of the Board of Catholic Charities and a resident of Jackson, Michigan, spoke of the effectiveness of the CAC program, which has been in place in Jackson for about two years. CAC “has made it easier for the kids because they haven’t had to tell their story to six different people,” Sister Barbara explained. “[The professionals] all watch one interview. It’s wonderful that they can do this as a seamless garment,” she said.
Sister Barbara estimated that about 250 abused children and their families are served by the CAC in Jackson every year. “Jackson and Adrian are both full of abused children,” she said. “It breaks my heart and I’m so glad that Catholic Charities is able to do something about that and that the community is able to help them.” Retired after 46 years as a teacher, she said she is very dedicated to children and is appalled by the way they are so often treated.
As a member of the Board, Sister Barbara is involved in many of Catholic Charities’ programs, most notably its fundraising efforts. Events such as the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day lunch box sale raise money to offset the many services that the organization provides for free to those who can’t afford them.
“We don’t ask what their religion is,” Sister Barbara said. “It’s Catholic Charities, but it’s for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, if you can afford our services or can’t. If you need them, we will help you.”
Clockwise, from top: From left, Sisters Tarianne DeYonker, OP, Attracta Kelly, OP, and Jacqueline Phillips, OP, enjoy the view from the porch of the new Child Advocacy Center facility. The playroom at the new Child Advocacy Center gives children a cheerful place to relax and have fun. State Representative Bronna Kahle (R-Dist. 57) presents a certificate recognizing the new Child Advocacy Center.
September 26, 2017, Washington, DC – For the second year in a row, Sister Donna Markham, OP, was recognized by The Non-Profit Times (NPT) as one of the Top 50 Power and Influence Leaders of non-profit organizations. She and the 49 other leaders were feted September 14 at the 20th Annual NPT Power and Influence Top 50 Gala at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The top 50 leaders are chosen from 300 top executives by a committee of NPT staff members, contributors, and other executives in recognition of the impact that the leaders have had on society in the past 12 months.
Sister Donna, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), was honored for her efforts to serve immigrants and refugees – a service named by CCUSA as a top priority. In its program, the NPT describes Sister Donna as a “national strategic thinker for combatting the impact of the expurgated federal budget.”
Speaking of her efforts at CCUSA, Sister Donna said, “Our commitment to care for those who are most vulnerable resides at the core of our faith.”
The impact of CCUSA was felt in a strong way in August when the agency, the U.S. Catholic Church’s official domestic relief agency, launched a Disaster Mobile Response Center vehicle to bring relief to victims of natural disaster. The vehicle was dispatched to San Antonio, Texas, to bring relief supplies to Houston after Hurricane Harvey.
Sister Donna, former Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, is the first woman to head CCUSA, a national network of 164 agencies that serve people in need. Services include disaster relief, food banks and pantries, emergency shelter and a variety of housing options, educational and training opportunities for adults and children, and advocacy on behalf of those who are in need.
Feature photo at top: Sister Donna Markham, OP, poses with two other Top 50 Power and Influence Leaders, Brian Gallagher, CEO of United Way (left) and Kevin Washington, CEO of YMCA.