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Editorial: Center celebrates commitment to kids in need
For 20 years, Edmondson-Telford has provided healing and care for abused children
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The Edmondson-Telford Child Advocacy Center holds its 20th anniversary celebration Aug. 24, 2017, at the Little House on Washington Street. The center put up more than 300 signs on Green and Washington streets depicting the ages and first names of children served at the center. - photo by Scott Rogers

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The innocence of a child can be broken in just a few moments. When that child is thrust into an adult world involving police interviews, therapy and court proceedings, the Edmondson-Telford Child Advocacy Center works to lessen the pain.

The center helps children who are the victims of sexual or severe physical abuse or neglect. It provides a place for forensic interviews and examinations, emotional support for victims and their loving caregivers, training opportunities and advocacy for children in myriad ways. All of its services are free.

According to the center’s website, 1,200 children and families have been served since its founding in 1997. Though we wish its services weren’t needed, we’re thankful our community has a place that provides them. 

Instead of sitting in a sterile environment built for grown-ups, children in our community who must recount the atrocities against them can do so in a place a bit more comfortable and kid-friendly. 

Crimes against children are difficult to comprehend, our responses often emotional. And in most cases, that outrage is warranted. But we applaud the staff, volunteers and partners at Edmondson-Telford for moving to the next step and doing the work that brings healing.

Weeks, months and years after the abuse of a child, that victim still has to cope with the actions of an adult, one who in many cases was responsible for caring and protecting the child from such evils.

At a ceremony last week celebrating the center’s 20th anniversary, Executive Director Heather Hayes recounted a conversation she had with someone who benefited from the center’s work. 

“That was where the pain ended and the healing started,” Hayes was told.

That’s quite a testament to this local agency, which can sometimes fly under the radar due to the confidentiality required in its work.

The anniversary event was marked by the placement of more than 300 signs on Green and Washington streets in Gainesville depicting the ages and first names of children the center has served, among an average of some 300 to 400 annually from Hall and Dawson counties. That visual puts identities on these children and displays how vulnerable they are.

“Take a second or two to look at those (signs),” said Phil Niekro, the baseball Hall of Famer and Braves great, Flowery Branch resident and longtime supporter of the center. “Not so much the names, but the ages of them. That’s what gets me.”

It gets us all, and is why maintaining full support for the center’s vital mission should remain a top priority.

Share your thoughts on this or any other topic in a letter to the editor; you can use this form or send an email to The Times editorial board includes General Manager Norman Baggs, Editor Keith Albertson and Managing Editor Shannon Casas, plus community members Susan DeCrescenzo, Cathy Drerup and Brent Hoffman.

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