Campaigning for Kids

For this year’s 100 Strong Campaign to benefit Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection, 10 businesswomen captained teams charged with raising awareness about—and $10,000 for—the organization, which helps abused and neglected children.

During a closing ceremony Oct. 10 at the Marion Cultural Alliance’s Brick City Center for the Arts, it was announced that the teams had raised more than $30,000.

“It was a tremendous success, more than we could have imagined. Our number is expected to still increase, but as of the culmination the amount raised was $30,298.16,” says Executive Director Dawn Westgate. “And they did a tremendous job in opening doors to conversations and bringing people in to tour and see our mission in action.”

The campaign funds will be used to build an outdoor therapeutic play area.

“We are taking care of children after they have been removed by the Department of Children and Families from an unsafe home and are being placed into foster care,” Westgate explains. “They spend anywhere from four to 12 hours at our facility and we meet their physical and emotional needs during the trauma. They really needed an outdoor area that was safe and therapeutic.”

Development Director Niki Tripodi says the team captains should be “really proud of themselves for joining the fight against child abuse and passionately raising a lot of funds.”

“They exceeded their goals more than we could have imagined, and they are part of the solution,” she adds. “They are kind of officially part of our family.”

Board member Reese Bourgeois says he was very impressed that this year’s team leaders made “really good use of social media.”

“There was lots of energy and creativity, things we’ve never seen before. It was impressive,” he notes. “These business leaders stepped forward and ran with it and did a great job.”

 The team captains were Naaz Saju, HDG Hotels; Katherine O’Brien DVM, Maricamp Animal Hospital; Angie Lewis, Angie Lewis State Farm; Amy Jo Lord Homes to Ranch Realty; Lauren Gibson, Lauren Gibson State Farm; Carmen Murvin, Showcase Properties; Angie Lester, Boyd Real Estate Group; Stacey Files, SSC Construction Management; Karen Cobbs, Grandview Clydesdales; and Valerie Strickland, Career Stylist with Etcetera

Saju said when she was asked to participate, it was an immediate yes.

“We had toured Kimberly’s Center in the past and it is a place I truly believe in,” she remarks. “Their cause is so close to the heart, so incredible, just to give children another opportunity at life.”

According to Tripodi, Marion County has more than 4,000 reports of suspected child maltreatment called into the Florida Child Abuse Hotline each year. In 2018, more than 1,200 children were served and the trauma team provided more than 3,000 hours of therapy to children and their families at no cost to the family.

“Kimberly’s Center exists to respond, protect and restore abused children so they can get the help, hope and healing they need,” Westgate stresses. “That’s the heart of what we do.”

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