When I was invited to visit the newly opened CACAC in the first of it’s temporary locations, I had a vague notion of what it as about and the work they did. By the time I left I had tears in my newly opened eyes, and I didn’t really know what I could do to help, but I knew I needed to lend a hand and see CACAC dream become a reality.
When Mark Jones asked if I would consider being a co-chair of the building campaign a few thoughts popped into my mind; I don’t have the time to do such important work, I don’t know if I have the skills to do this, and how can I say no when believe in this with all heart.
Over the past few years I have heard many compelling reasons why this new center needs to be built, and I agree with all of them. For me, it’s the hope that the children who have the misfortune of having to visit a CAC will get the help they need and will one day feel safe again. I further believe that by stopping the abuse and healing the abused that we will one day stop the cycle of abuse and that one day we might not have a need for a CAC. That is my wish for all the future generations of Central Alberta.
Mark’s passion for working with kids was fulfilled through his 36 years in the education world, as both a teacher and an administrator. He received his education from University of Calgary and completed his Masters at the University of Oregon. Mark has always believed in putting children and youth first. This philosophy has brought many students back with stories and memories, which Mark holds close to his heart. One of the highlights of his career was the opportunity to open a brand new elementary school, Mattie McCullough, and build a culture based on fun, respect and understanding. This experience was enriching and has been used to build the foundation of the team dynamic here at the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre. In his spare time, Mark loves to spend time with his wife, Nicole, and four children.
When I first learned about the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre I was in awe of the type of work they did, and wanted to know more. My husband and I went on a tour of one of their original locations and our hearts were forever changed by the needs of so many children in our community.
When they showed us their amazing plan to build The Centre of Excellence, we were blown away by their ambitious project and knew we wanted to get involved in some way. We decided to make a family donation towards the new building project, but that’s really just the beginning of our involvement. In 2021 I joined the CACAC Cabinet Committee, and have been so proud to work alongside an amazing group of community members all working together toward the common goal of bringing the Centre of Excellence to reality. Knowing that this new facility will help so many children and families in crisis, and also be an educational and research model for the world, is something we are so proud to be a part of. Once you get involved with the CACAC you become family, and it has been so rewarding watching our community pull together for this amazing facility.
Why this organization, and why these people? It’s a simple question to answer. It is the people behind the scenes at the CACAC who are the difference makers. They work tirelessly to support not only the victims, but their siblings and parents. They provide not just one support, but every support a victimized child, teen, or family needs. They pour their heart and soul into the organization day in and day out.
Working with the CACAC is the most rewarding thing I have done. I know that every volunteer hour, item donated, or cash donation is being absolutely maximized, and the lasting impact this charity is going to have on our community is immeasurable. Honestly, every time I step foot in the door and hear the latest numbers and statistics it makes my heart hurt. It is staggering and scary. If we don’t come together as a community and do something to break the cycle of abuse it will only grow.
I feel privileged to be involved with this amazing organization. I know I share this belief with many others in our region; We all have a responsibility to give back in whatever way we can and when time allows us to. The foundational reason for me helping with this campaign is, like many others, supporting the staff to do the very important and highly impactful work that they do.
However, the other reason I’m involved is to help ask others authentically and passionately to financially support our building campaign. This includes the very strong business case for both the build and the ongoing operations of the building, the passionate and committed people helping do this work, and even more so – how passionate I am about the world class systems approach of integrated practice in the service delivery model this organization is role modeling. Among the things we strive to do in Central Alberta, being leaders is one – and the CACAC is leading in all my reasons why!
As a business leader and a member of the fundraising cabinet for the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Center, I am passionate about supporting the happiness and health of our community’s children. Having a family of my own, I understand firsthand the importance of providing a safe and nurturing environment for children to grow and thrive. I believe that every child deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential, and that starts with a proper foundation of care, support, and resources.
The work of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Center is particularly important to me because it provides critical support to children and families who have experienced abuse, neglect, or other traumatic events. By offering a comprehensive, coordinated response to child abuse cases, the center is making a real difference in the lives of vulnerable children in our community. As a member of the fundraising cabinet, I am proud to contribute to this effort and help ensure that every child in Central Alberta has access to the resources and support they need to lead successful and happy lives.
In short, I believe that investing in the well-being of our community’s children is not only the right thing to do, but also a necessary step in building a strong, vibrant community for the future.
Back in 2016 I was asked by my sister in law to come and sit on an event committee, as the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre was partnering with what is now the CACAC in joint forces to run the Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off. This volunteer position would have much more impact than I could have ever dreamed of. This is where I met Mark Jones, Terry Loewen, and Cassandra Galenzoski, and then in 2018 I was hired on as staff.
From the beginning there was an incredible amount of passion, community support and donors who stepped up immediately to get behind us. We were a very small team with big dreams of creating a Centre of Excellence to change the way our society responds to child abuse. With the support of so many and a volunteer base of extraordinary people we seemed to pass each milestone quickly.
Each day provides me with unparalleled inspiration in what a community can accomplish together. To the hundreds of people who have helped get us here, thank you.
After witnessing the incredible work that is being done in the field and at the CACAC, it is truly an honor to have worked beside the super-heroes who help these kids every day. I feel a sense of peace knowing that there is a place for all kids to go should they ever require our services. While the kids pictured with me have been fortunate enough to never need the CACAC, ensuring it is there for them and all children will always be my “why”.
Before I came to work at the CACAC I knew that my next career adventure would have to be in a place I was doing work that meant something bigger. I found that working at the CACAC. In my original role here at the centre, I was the person that welcomed the families into the centre during some of their darkest times. Seeing the strength and resilience these kids display, has made it very easy to be passionate about my job and want to be involved in this project specifically. I am proud knowing that the work we put in today gives children and families of Central Alberta hope and a place to safely tell their story for many years to come. It has been an honor to be a part of the CAC Campaign Team. Watching the Centre of Excellence come to life has been rewarding to say the least. The collaboration with our partners and the work integrated practices being implemented will be transformational in how we deal with child abuse and trauma going forward. I love getting to share the story and the mission of the Centre of Excellence and the CAC with community members. When I see the reactions as we tour people through this new centre, I know that we are on the right path and that this building will truly change lives.
I have very personal reasons as to what my “why” is. Some reasons stem from my loved ones – my friends and family. Other reasons stem from the families that have walked through our doors. I will never know their names or their exact reasons for coming into our centre, but I will never forget the profound impact they’ve had on my heart. It demands that we all do as much as we can to make this world a better place for those children.
I am surrounded colleagues who make a choice everyday to come into the CACAC knowing that they will hear the most heartbreaking things a child could possibly tell them. They come in knowing that there is a challenging court file coming up, or that they will be working with a family who is experiencing 3rd or 4th generation abuse. They come in knowing that they will be talking to a 17-year-old in the morning, and a 4-year-old in the afternoon. When you understand how hard these people work to advocate for children and youths, and how many families are experiencing abusive situations, it motivates you.
The Centre of Excellence will be the cornerstone for child advocacy, and I am honoured to contribute my small piece to the team that is making big things happen.