Caring Place event a success

To the editor:

The staff and board of A Caring Place Child Advocacy Center are so grateful to the many who made our 12th-annual fundraiser on April 1 another major success. As the leading advocate in the healing and prevention of child abuse, our center hosted speaker Shelley Lynn Lubben at this year’s dinner to educate and motivate our community to the dark links between the sex industry and child abuse.

Since our April 1 event, we have, unfortunately, endured the loss of our leader and director, MaryAnn Smoger-Donnelly, whose battle with cancer ended on Easter morning, April 16. We were extremely fortunate to have MaryAnn address our supporters through a recorded message the evening of our event. MaryAnn’s personal sharing reinvigorated many to rekindle their efforts to advocate for our children and continue their support of ACP’s mission.

As our evening event came to a close, we were again gifted by our largest attendance and greatest outpouring of contributions, allowing us to earn more than $25,000 with this year’s event. We are humbled by your confidence in our small center’s impact and energized to move forward in our mission … to be the leading advocate of healing and prevention of child abuse.

A Caring Place has been gifted to have had MaryAnn Donnelly as our director. We continue to be blessed with Eileen Spencer as our advocate, human trafficking coordinator and her tireless efforts as the interim director.

Thanks to our committed supporters, we hired our newest staff member, Tara Brown. As our accountant, her skills and personal investment in the center’s mission has given us a valuable edge as we proceed forward as a non-profit.

I also thank ACP board members whose dedication made this fundraiser and the continued operations of ACP possible: Amy McDonnell (vice president), Nate Roberts (treasurer), Ann Dulany (secretary), Janelle Clifton, Jim Coyle, Phyllis Riccadonna, Lisa Tiberio, Shari Jo Watkins and Jen Yasho, as well as all of their family and friends who back our efforts.

Many thanks to our past president and board member, Vicki DeLeonardis. As she returns home to her roots in New Jersey, we acknowledge her untiring drive to bring to light the center’s services to our local area. She and the staff at the Ville have contributed many thousands of dollars over the years through their generous contributions of money and service. We will miss you, Vicki.

This year we were again blessed to have the live dinner music provided by board member Shari Jo Watkins and her husband, David.

Thank you to our event volunteers: Maria Rigaud, Linda Kissinger, Tara Brown and Nancy Schreck. Thank you to the St. Florian Hall staff and Todd Piergallini for the wonderful meal, service, staging and dining room arrangements.

Jean-Philippe Rigaud

A Caring Place Child

Advocacy Center

Board president