For The Family supporters care in a big way and you can help, too. The power of hope matters.
Showing how much they care by giving, that is what
“Celebrating the Power of Hope” fundraiser was all about, Wednesday night April 25, at
Longfellows, Hotel, Restaurant and Conference Center, 500 Union Avenue. The
Saratoga Center for the Family benefited from the Saratoga
County community by being recognized for the tireless efforts and the generous donations
of financial support through paying to attend, through a live and a silent
Corinne Vahanian, the event chairwoman predicted early during the
evening they would raise between thirty-five to forty thousand dollars. This annual
fundraiser, held every year during the month of April, as an observance of the National Child Abuse
The center handles 4,300 cases a year at the Harriet M. West Child Advocacy
Center located at 359 Balston Ave, Saratoga
Springs. Offered there are child abuse prevention
programs, counseling and victim advocacy. Law enforcement, Child Protective
Services and the Saratoga
County district attorney work
closely to bring abuse cases to justice. The victims are given counseling as
well as the victims are helped to heal after their trauma.
Prevention programs included parenting, strengthening
families, child custody stress prevention and anger management. Its mental
health services focus on trauma caused by abuse, violence and victimization.
Counseling also addresses family dysfunction and managing symptoms of
depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorders.
The crowd who help support the center participated in the
fundraiser because they believe in what The Saratoga Center for
the Family does for those traumatized. The advocacy center is a place where
mental health professionals, law enforcement and specialized medical teams can
hear the story one time by the victim and has been designed after a national
model in which a non-threatening environment allows the abuse cases can be
heard all at the same time. The victim does not need to repeat the story
Through the dedication of legal, psychological and trauma
specialists, the center is able to help thousands countywide. The fundraiser helps the professionals to do their difficult but necessary work.
The one hundred fifty plus crowd at Longfellows enjoyed
a vibrant evening with a vibrant group of supporters. Yvonne and Steve “Sully”
Sullivan showed how much they cared for The Saratoga Center for the Family by
donating their facility to the fundraiser. Also, in attendance were Saratoga
Springs Mayor Scott Johnson and his wife Julie who enjoyed, along with the
delighted crowd, unique performances by the Schuylerville High School Chamber
singers. The student ensemble performed solos and several popular songs
throughout the evening entertaining all the attendees as they mingled and
checked out numerous auction items.
Benita Zahn, WNYT Channel 13 news anchor served
as the celebrity host while Dr. Manny Cirenza, Community Care Pediatrics
physician based out of Saratoga and Malta, served
at the evening’s auctioneer. Dr. Cirenza just returned from a trip to Africa where he examined twelve abused orphans. While
there, Dr. Cirenza told the gathered crowd, that he saw a giant sign with the
words written in bold letters: “During life the things you do for yourself, die
with you, and the things you do for others remain in the world.” Dr. Cirenza related
that to the kindness of those in attendance Wednesday night. He added, “and
that is what the people of the Saratoga
Center child advocacy
program do everyday.”
Dr. Cirenza then jumped into the auctioneering
role along with the help of Ms. Zahn urging the crowd to bid higher for each
item. They made a strong team.
Dr. Timothy Brooks stood at the rear of the hall talking
with his wife, Ellen, and friends about the evening. Dr. Brooks has been an
emergency medicine specialist for 28 years and works at Saratoga Hospital
He spoke proudly about the work being done at The Saratoga
Center for the Family, saying that “these children are innocent and they need
someone to advocate for them and take care of them and protect them and help
them heal, and that is why we do what we do.” Dr. Brooks says this type of
advocacy, teaching the traumatized how to deal with their physical and
emotional pain, takes time, but these methods do work.
Dr. Brooks works closely with the center and says there are
two types of cases he sees most often, chronic cases of abuse in which an
individual has been traumatized over many years and acute cases in which a
victim has been recently abused. The acute victim goes directly to Saratoga Hospital
emergency department, while the chronic victim usually, on their own, finally
decides to come forward, seeking the services of the Saratoga Center
for the Family. At the center hope exists to relieve the trauma. Working,
teaching and helping the victim cope makes a tremendous difference in their
At the center there are three nurse practitioners, all
highly trained women, who handle cases of pediatric sexual assaults. According
to Dr. Brooks, serious concern develops if a case is not handled properly at
this crucial stage. The cycle of abuse has an extremely high potential of
continuing, not only by the perpetrator, but by the victim. The victims can
become abusers if not guided professionally.
One area Dr. Brooks says the adolescent offender who bullies
children needs tremendous attention. “These offenders are too young to be
punished as adults, they often times slip through the cracks and continue to
abuse others later in life, “said Dr. Brooks.
Dr. Candice Dunn, the clinical director of
psychology at the center, specializes in effecting change by working closely
with a group of highly trained therapists who deal directly with victims. The
traumatic event can be devastating. Dr. Dunn and her team focus on the abuse
and making a difference in the victims future.
“A lot of people think they are going crazy after
they have been abused and that abuse could have happened years ago. Many become
depressed as adults and do not understand why,” says Dr. Dunn. “Our therapists
help victims discover the source of their pain, panic attacks and inability to
function in their daily lives.”
Dr. Dunn has been in the Saratoga region for two and a half years and
she brought her highly specialized background in clinical psychology, family
therapy, treatment of trauma, supervising teams of therapists who provide home
based therapy to keep children in their homes. Dr. Dunn also has experience working
with a many different types of clients and age groups. Last year the
organization provided more than 3,500 mental health visits to more than 400
clients and offered prevention programs to more than 400 clients.
The Saratoga Center for the Family will continue
“Celebrating the Power of Hope” year round. Everyone has a moment of stress and
strain they need to work through. Teens who are under tremendous pressure from
bullying, school and recent financial strains affecting their lives should
contact the center to work through mental health problems.
For those people who
have been severely traumatized, feel hopeless and are concerned they have no
one to speak, the center personnel urges anyone to call the center at 518-587-8008.
All information is kept
confidential and free of charge.
The power of
hope exists in Saratoga
County because The
Saratoga Center for the Family has the power to help.