By Ryan Wilkes
The Russell County Child Advocacy Center has been open for two decades now and hopes to help children of domestic abuse for 20 more.
“We strive for excellence in our provision of services and knowing that we will never be perfect,” said Lynn Hammock Russell County Child Advocacy Center Executive Director. “But our community’s children deserve the very best of us. If we continue to build on what we do well, (and) learn from our mistakes to improve, that is an accomplishment for the center.”
The mission of the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is to help child victims and non-offending family members. The CAC also specifically provides support, referrals, and advocates for child-sensitive investigations and swift prosecution of offenders. They also educate the public regarding the extent of child abuse and promote public awareness. The CAC would like to encourage people to report abuse and be a resource to all citizens of Russell County regarding the prevention of abuse.
Hammock has worked in the field of child abuse for 30 years with 15 years as director of the CAC.
“I see the difference the center makes in the interviewing of children who have made allegations of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse and neglect,” she said. “When I was hired in 2003, I was tasked with developing a new facility.”
The first house was located at South Railroad Street but between 2003 and 2006 the house was moved to Phenix Industrial Park.
“I refer to the center as ‘my baby’ because it feels like an extension of me,” said Hammock. “I do not want that to sound as though I am fully responsible for those things happening, but rather, as director, I was fully involved in each project.”
“There are a lot of people that worked hard to secure a new home for the Child Advocacy Center. Every aspect of the center can be attributed to a dedicated and caring staff, multi-disciplinary team, community leaders like (Chief Ray Smith, Sheriff Heath Taylor, District Attorney Ken Davis and Department of Human Resources Director Jan Casteel), and those community members who support us throughout the year.
There are many chances to give back to the Child Advocacy Center, one being the Father Dance on Feb. 10 at the St. Luke Ministry Center. Admission for couples is $40 and an additional $10 per child, with no age limit.
“Doors open at 5 for pictures, dinner at 6 and dance at 6:30,” Hammock said. “The theme this year is ‘Fun with Minnie’ and lots of red and white polka dots! Tickets can be purchased at BB&T on Broad or Robin’s Nest Boutique on Summerville Road, across the street from Publix.”