It is hard to believe that the Advocacy Center has been in operation for twenty-four years. The Board of Directors actually formed in October 1991 to begin the process of fulfilling requirements to become an official Advocacy Center. In July of 1992 the Board leased the house located at 104 Alabama Avenue, NW, in Fort Payne. Civic groups took on each of the rooms to paint and furnish. The community was involved from the beginning. I was hired as Director in January 1993 and we opened our doors to serve children and families.
I wore many hats in the early years. One of those was Forensic Interviewer. There were 37 forensic interviews conducted in 1993. In 2016, there were 200 and thankfully, we have a primary interviewer to handle this responsibility. We have conducted more than 3,800 interviews since 1993.
Over the years we added programs and staff. In addition to Forensic Interviews, we provide therapy for abuse victims and at-risk students in DeKalb County School and Fort Payne City Schools, a Family Advocate to support the non-offending caregiver in the abuse cases, child abuse prevention programs for second and fifth – twelfth grade classes, and parent education.
We outgrew the house a long time ago. We moved into the old Forest Avenue School Kindergarten Building on August 30, 2012, which was located directly behind our old house. The house was torn down on November 19, 2012 which provided space for much needed parking! We are very appreciative of the City of Fort Payne for providing the facility and a long term lease.
I have learned a lot as an Executive Director of a non-profit social service agency over the last twenty years. God has been good.
There was a need for an Advocacy Center in 1993. The need for our services is even greater today.
Thank you for your support of the Children’s Advocacy Center. The children needed us yesterday and today, and will need us tomorrow. The same is with you:
We needed you to help us establish a Center twenty years ago. You have helped us all along the way and we will need you to help us serve tomorrow’s children as well.
Elizabeth Rusk Wheatley, Executive Director