A new center has opened in Fort Fairfield for children who have been the victims of sexual abuse and the Kiwanis Club of Presque Isle is holding a gala to help them.

Our Community Spotlight this week features the newly-opened Children's Advocacy Center in Ft. Fairfield, which is a place where sexually abused children will go in order to receive the help they need.

Lydia Charistie, the Program Coordinator for the center, talked about the purpose and function of the center in Aroostook County.

" We've been developing this (the Children's Advocacy Center) for the past two years and we opened about a month ago. This program seeks to provide coordination for the investigation, prosecution and treatment services for children who may have been sexually abused."

Charistie went on to say that the Children's Advocacy Center is a place that is very child-friendly, where potentially sexually-abused kids can meet with a specially trained forensic interviewer to talk about what may or may not have happened.

Instead of the child talking to 5 or 6 different people on the MDT (multi-disciplinary) team, law enforcement, district attorney's office, and child protective services are monitoring the interview and gathering the information they need to aid in their investigation.

Charistie went on to conclude,

"Once that process is complete, the family advocate works with the family to set up treatment services so it's a really wholistic approach to this work."

Prior to the Children's Advocacy Center opening, children who were suspected of being sexually abused were sent downstate to Bangor, with people they did not know and may have been questioned by a number of people.

If there wasn't enough space for the child in Bangor, some of them would be sent to another facility in Portland.

Charistie said the whole goal of the process is to minimize the amount of trauma that children are experiencing. She said they can't take away their trauma, because they've already experienced that. But we can minimize it by trying to have only one interview, if possible, within the area that they live in.

Also, bringing the whole team together whereas in the past it may have happened two or three times with each of those disciplines, so it brings everyone together.

The Kiwanis Club of Presque Isle Gala

Jenn Deschenes, Chair of the Kiwanis Club of Presque Isle Gala, shared how the funds raised from their event, will go to help the Children's Advocacy Center of Aroostook County.

The Kiwanis Club of Presque Isle is teaming up with the Presque Isle Rotary to hold a gala on Saturday, October 20th at 6 p.m. at the old 'Slopes', which is now the Stoneridge Events Center in Presque Isle.

The cost is $60.

You and your guests will enjoy an evening of music, dancing, auction and cash bar.

For more information about the gala and how you can get tickets for the event, either contact your local Presque Isle Kiwanian or Rotarian or call Heidi at 540-6051.