Published Aug. 7, 2014
By Sydney Walter
Curiosity, solidarity, and community abounded as AWARE Central Texas hosted a Christmas in July BBQ and training session, raising both funds and awareness for their upcoming programs.
“The purpose of this event is to both secure funding for the next few months and to get word out about AWARE’s programs,” said AWARE Central Texas Development Director Harriet Brodie. “We want people to understand the need to prevent child abuse, even right here in our community.”
The event consisted of training concerning child welfare laws by local child protection court Judge Charles Van Orden, a barbecue donation dinner, and an evening auction. The funds raised are being put toward AWARE’s Christmas on the Farm, scheduled for December 13 at the Bell County Expo Center.
“Christmas on the Farm is an opportunity for us to serve nearly 3,000 families from Central Texas,” said Christmas on the Farm Chairperson Helen Alexander. “We use that event to fundraise and to advocate for children and educate the public.”
Judge Van Orden spent the first few hours of the event discussing some of the intricacies of child welfare laws to an audience of lawyers, social workers, and licensed marriage and family therapists, providing some insight into the goals of child protection.
“I was eager to do the event because I hoped I could draw in some professionals working in the field and get the public involved,” said Van Orden.
AWARE Central Texas itself aims to prevent child abuse and neglect as well as family violence. They offer education and mentoring services from Waco to Austin.
“We hold classes concerning everything from parenting and anger management to anti-victimization to just family coaching,” said Education Director Joey Ellis. “Some of our clients are mandated to attend, but a lot are voluntary. There is a growing interest in the cause.”
Both Van Orden and Brodie pointed out that Bell County remains in the top ten of Texas counties for child abuse.
“The need is here and we need to give people the opportunity to understand and be aware,” said Brodie. “One of the things that stikes me most is that while people need extra education for nearly every profession, there is no education for the most important job in the world, being a parent.”
For more information about AWARE or its services in the community, visit awarecentraltexas.org.