|Updated: 2/15/2012 10:39 pm
||Published: 2/15/2012 8:24 pm
HOT SPRINGS, AR - A major donation means the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center at St. Joseph's Mercy Hospital in Hot Springs can expand to help more kids who have been abused or neglected.
The center doesn't look like a hospital. Caregivers have created a welcome and inviting place for kids more like a play center. The Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center is a place where abused, neglected, and mal-treated children can get the help they need.
The director of the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center, Janice McCutcheon, says the mission is to provide expert services in a child-friendly, safe environment. "The children see that ministry, and they see the changes we make. We are the first step of hope."
The Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center is the first and only hospital-based facility for children in Arkansas, and was founded because Garland County ranks in the top three judicial districts in the state for filing child maltreatment reports.
Dorothy Morris is one of 13 women involved with a charitable group called the Giving Circle. The group pools money and chooses to donate to the community. This year the group chose to give the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center $15,000 if St. Joseph's Mercy Hospital could match it. "We must protect our children. A lot of this abuse is hidden, so this is a way to educate people, talk about it, and protect our children."
Giving Circle member Linda Palmer says their model of giving to the community is something she would like to see spread in other communities. "We can make a difference by pooling our money."
The Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center will use the $30,000 to expand and remodel the facility. The center relies on community support and donations and provides all services to families and children for free. Child advocates say the donation can help them better serve the children and restore their innocence.
The Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center sees 500 children a year for forensic interviews, medical exams, and counseling. Nationwide statistics report 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by age 18.