Central Peninsula Children's Advocacy Center celebrated Champions for Children on January 8 at the Kenai Visitor Center. The event brought together families and professionals to honor the voices of children and the community champions who protect them.
The Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) provides southern Kenai Peninsula communities with a coordinated, multi-disciplinary approach to the problem of child abuse. Various members of the child protection, law enforcement, prosecution, victim advocacy, medical and mental health communities are able to provide children and their families comprehensive services within a child-friendly environment that is designed to meet the needs of the child.
We were pleased to offer the CAC Child Protection Awards to three deserving professionals. Kenai Peninsula District Attorney Lance Joanis received the Champion for Children Award for his outstanding service in protecting and preserving the wellbeing of our children peninsulawide.
CAC coordinator Jessica Lawmaster said, "Lance is a visionary leader, who believes that all child victims of abuse-regardless of race, geographic location, or culture-deserve the best, most culturally appropriate response throughout the investigation, prosecution and treatment process."
Chief Gus Sandahl of the Kenai Police Department was named Outstanding Ally for his leadership in investigations and his service to the community. Lawmaster said Chief Sandahl gives 100 percent to investigations and always considers the best interest of victims of crimes.
Colleen James, Central Peninsula Hospital's Clinical Forensic Services Coordinator, was the recipient of the Healing Hearts Award for her inspiring and exemplary service in providing compassionate healing to child victims of abuse.
Lawmaster said, "Colleen James has been a revolutionary force in the state of Alaska, working tirelessly for the safety, health and well being of children statewide. Collen strives for all children to have the opportunity to make healthy choices, to be happy, to be carefree, to grow to be responsible and most importantly to be safe."
Congratulations also goes to Linda Kahn, the winner of our quilt raffle. Linda took home a beautiful quilt made by Rita Magee, Colleen James and Cindy Rainey, with help from Robin's Place Fabrics. Proceeds from the raffle tickets will benefit the CAC.
The event also featured a reading by Homer author and home health nurse PeggyEllen Kleinleder, RN, BSN, from her book, "The Thursday Group: A Story and Information for Girls Healing from Sexual Abuse." The book is co-authored by Kimber Evensen, LCSW, BCD, and illustrated by Nancy Radtke.
Entertainment was provided by several Kenai performers, including Vickie Tinker, whose song "Bright Child" is about her experience working with abused children, and dancers from Encore Dance Studio under the direction of Tara Slaughter. Our CAC would like to thank these talented artists for brightening our event with their performances.
In addition, thanks go to the many businesses who donated food for the event, including Country Foods IGI, Three Bears, Fred Meyer's and Veronica's Old Town Caf, as well as the many volunteers who made the evening possible.
This article was provided by Jessica Lawmaster, coordinator, Central Peninsula Children's Advocacy Center.
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