Those who have helped in preventing child abuse honored
By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — It’s unfortunate that in 2011 there were 6,455 new child abuse cases in North Carolina, but fortunate that there were 75 counties in this state with child advocacy centers available to help.
On Friday, volunteers from the Terrie Hess House Child Advocacy Center in Salisbury were on hand for its annual recognition program.
The center is a program of Prevent Child Abuse Rowan.
Volunteers act as a portal for the families to access various services they may need from counseling, legal and medical.
Rowan District Attorney Brandy Cook spoke at the program.
“We are all here for one thing and that’s to protect the children of Rowan County,” Cook said.
Cook spoke about a case she prosecuted years ago where four children in a family — the youngest, an 18-month-old, were sexually abused. The family received services from their local child advocacy center. The oldest children spoke about the abuse in a taped interview with a forensic interviewer and that tape along with other evidence was able to help convict the abuser.
Each year the agency recognizes people have made an impact through volunteering or by providing other services and help.
This year’s Friend of the Child Award went to Salisbury Police Officer Wiley Lamm, who is the department’s child advocate. Lamm has been with the police department for nearly 20 years.
“It means so much to me. I sure appreciate being given the opportunity to help work with Prevent Child Abuse Rowan,” Lamm said.
This year’s Dr. Kathleen Russo award was presented to Lowe’s Home Improvement.
Local store manager Tim Howard, who has volunteered, said the company has a history of community involvement.
“We are fortunate to involve store teams to participate,” Howard said.
He counts it a privilege and rewarding to participate in community projects.
The store and many volunteers repainted the exterior of the Terrie Hess House last year.
“Prevent Child Abuse Rowan is about awareness of child abuse, about education, it’s also about the healing process for children,” said interim executive director Karen Barbee.
If a child is abused they have a safe place to go and speak to someone “so they can start the healing process,” she said.
Those gathered, which included social workers, law enforcement, court personnel, volunteers and local municipal representatives heard from a woman whose son was the victim of sexual abuse.
She spoke about receiving help from the staff and volunteers at the Terrie Hess House Child Advocacy Center. Her son was assaulted by a group of boys while away from home at camp.
Other businesses recognized at the program were: Summit Developers, Wilco-Hess, Kohl’s Department Store, Blast-It-All, First Bank, Salisbury Pediatrics, The Forum of Salisbury and Chamberlain Exterminators.
Last year’s award recipients were Salisbury Police Detective Russell DeSantis and Koko Java.
Prevent Child Abuse Rowan has been in existence since 2001, and since 2005, the Terrie Hess House Child Advocacy Center has been providing services. The Terrie Hess House is named after Prevent Child Abuse Rowan’s first president, Terrie Spencer Hess.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
For more information about Prevent Child Abuse Rowan and how to donate, go to www.preventchildabuserowan.org.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.