April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and a group is working to host an event to bring awareness to the community. Its second planning meeting will be held at 6 p.m. today at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, at the corner of 19th Street and Union Avenue.
Sherrie Goff, of United Methodist Woman, said: “The goal is to educate people as to what services we have here in town, what they do, how they do it and what they need.”
Goff cited an example: New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Family Department. “CYFD needs foster families for their system, and we hope to get people to open their doors to a foster child or two.“
The event is also to give a number of different service organizations a venue to tell people about their services. They hope to have booths, speakers and entertainment for an experience that will be enjoyed by all.
Goff is also working to create a comprehensive list of the programs available, including American Red Cross, Assurance Home, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club, Chaves County J.O.Y Center, Counseling Associates, CYFD, Down Syndrome Foundation of SE NM, CASA, Esperanza House, Harvest Ministries and Reflections & Recovery.
They also will tackle issues that may be viewed as contributing factors, such as drug abuse and domestic violence, and economic factors, such as unemployment, so the list is a starting point and contains some of the organizations which do not spring immediately to mind. For example: New Mexico Legal Aide and the Roswell Literacy Council.
“There’s a huge amount of service agencies available in Chaves County.”
Goff speaks passionately of the enormity of the problem and how it has a knock-on effect in the community.
“The issues are so big we often don’t know what to do. This (child abuse) happens in the best of families, and often we still have a don’t get involved attitude.”
The purpose of tonight’s planning meeting is to get people to step forward.
“The United Methodist Women are all about helping children,” she said, but she emphasized that the event and the planning meeting are not limited to UMW. She invited all interested parties to come to the meeting.
Many organizations exist to help youth in Roswell and families in distress from S.O.Y. (Save Our Youth) Mariachi and the Unity Center and she hopes that representatives from some of these organizations will also attend.
Right now the group is looking for a place to hold this event. Originally, it had hoped to hold it on the courthouse lawn, but recent reseeding may require the group to find a new location.
Increasing public awareness of the need to ensure the safety and welfare of children led to the passage of the first federal child protection legislation, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), in 1974. It has been amended many times, but the original purpose remains.
Anyone who wants to get more information about the event or who would like to participate should contact: Sherrie Goff, 637-4097, or e-mail her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.