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Positive turn of events for child advocacy workers

It’s an almost happy ending for the women of the Upper Valley Child Advocacy Center. Last Wednesday, they unexpectedly lost their jobs when the child advocacy program at the Family Crisis Center dissolved. They spoke to us in an interview, asking for help so they could keep helping children. That same night, support came streaming in, including from Ryan Hatch, CEO of Amerihealth, formerly known as the Children and Family Clinic, in Rexburg.

“I think what moved me is when we talked to him he said, ‘I saw your news broadcast and I could not bear to let children go without these services and that’s why i reached out to you,'” said Kimber Tower, executive director of the Upper Valey Child Advocacy Center. “I went from, ‘What are we going to do?’ to, ‘Who does this for children?’ What kind of a person would do something so selfless for children? It was humbling.”

Hatch offered the women space in the basement of their office. There is room for a child advocacy office, a forensics office and a room to conduct forensic interviews. Hatch says he knew he had to help them.

“They just play such an integral role in helping the law enforcement for Fremont County and Jefferson County,” Hatch said. “It is really important that they can have this central location here in Rexburg, that those kids can come here for their forensic interviews and to have a child advocate.”

They also heard from former clients who offered to help and let them know that they, and their work, are important.

“Just saying, ‘Hey, we heard about what happened, what can we do? is there anything that we can do?'” said Nahoimi Aponte, advocacy director for the Upper Valley Child Advocacy Center. “Saying that they understood how valuable the service was and just talking about how much it had meant to them that we were there to help their kids in that moment of crisis.”

Various groups including the Rigby Library and Bikers Against Child Abuse also lent a hand. They’ve also received donations such as stuffed animals and blankets for the children, as many reached out to show that helping children matters.

“We’ve had church groups reach out,” said Ashley Stallings, program director for the Upper Valley Child Advocacy Center. “In fact, we had one fellow that was with a church group that just took money right out of his wallet and handed it to us to help to continue to move forward and help these children. And so, through hard things, great miracles are seen and we’ve been seeing that.”

Despite all this help, these women are still working as volunteers and not getting paid. They say there is still a long way to go and a lot of help needed, but there will be no lapse in services. They are holding fundraisers in February and April. You can learn more about those and contact the center through its Facebook page.

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