WEIRTON - After federal funding for child advocacy centers was cut in recent years, local groups have been organizing efforts to raise funds for the Comfort House, one such local center.
Tammy Lewis, director of the Brooke-Hancock Child Advocacy Center Comfort House, said for the first time in decades, federal funding is not supporting child advocacy centers dependent on those dollars to help neglected and abused children. To continue the services provided locally to these children, she said, organizations, such as the Fort Steuben StreetRods, are reaching out to support the cause.
On Sunday, the Fort Steuben Street Rods organization hosted a fundraising event at the Serbian American Cultural Center consisting of a car show, silent auction and craft show. Entertainment and food was provided throughout the day and a donation of $1,100 was made to the Comfort House.
HELP — The Fort Steuben Street Rods organization hosted a fundraising event at the Serbian American Cultural Center on Sunday to raise money for the Comfort House located in Weirton. The Fort Steuben Street Rods presented a donation in the amount of $1,100 to the Comfort House, which helps neglected and abused children. Pictured from left is Tammy Lewis, director of the Brooke-Hancock Child Advocacy Center Comfort House, and Gary Wasmer, president of the Street Rods. -- Angelina Dickson
"We are so appreciative of the support we've gotten," said Lewis. "There was a man here, George Ostrich, who won the 50/50 and he donated the money back to us. It means so much to us and the children we help to have the support of the community."
Lewis said the Comfort House works with the prosecutor's offices in Brooke and Hancock counties as well as law enforcement to interview children about the abuses they face at home and, if necessary, place them in a safe environment.
She said evidence gathered during interviews is used to prosecute offenders.
One of the biggest challenges CACs face is getting children to open up, she said. Lewis said some children are manipulated by the one abusing them or anyone else in the home into believing that they will lose their home, family or even suffer worse atrocities, even death. Gary Wasmer, president of the Fort Steuben Street Rods, said the group was able to help the Comfort House. He said the organization chooses a group each year to assist and the Comfort House was this year's choice.
"It's a good cause and we know the money is going to help abused children," said Wasmer.
Lewis said the funds donated by the Fort Steuben Street Rods will help with operational costs not covered by grant dollars such as office supplies like the DVDs used to record forensic interviews and even drinks and food for the children who are at the Comfort House anywhere between two and six hours or more for interviews.
(Dickson can be contacted at email@example.com)