Throughout the past 12 years, the Lincoln County Coalition Against Child Abuse and the Child Advocacy Center have worked via their multi-disciplinary team helping more than 1,500 abused children throughout Lincoln County. Once a year, those who are part of this team, as well as community members, gather at an appreciation luncheon to thank those involved in helping the county’s youngest victims and to honor team members and volunteers.
“When you hear the term ‘child advocacy center’ you may think of a building, or of staff, but when we think about the child advocacy center, it’s a process,” Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Sherry Reinhardt said. “Each and every one of you sitting here today has a part to play in that. There wouldn’t be a child advocacy center if it weren’t for you.”
The main speaker at the luncheon, which was held April 10 at the James W. Warren Citizens Center in Lincolnton, was retired New York City Police Department Detective Sgt. Charles Famulari.
He said that moving to Denver in June 2008 with his wife and three children was a big change for them after living for so long on Long Island.
“One evening in the summer of 2011, our lives were forever changed,” Famulari said. “We learned that our daughter, Christina, had been sexually abused by her 18-year-old cousin. She had been the victim of his abuse since she was seven years old, which had occurred during family and holiday gatherings.”
Famulari admitted that he felt a wide range of emotions, rage being one of them as well as confusion, anger, betrayal and failure.
“I handled and investigated almost every crime contained in the New York City Penal Code for 20-plus years,” he said. “I found myself on the other side of the equation.”
A visit to a psychologist brought Famulari, his wife Susan and Christina to the doors of the Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center. The abuser was eventually prosecuted and given a jail sentence.
“Christina has since grown into a beautiful young lady who’s full of love,” Famulari said. “She volunteers for several organizations like Special Olympics and coaches girls volleyball at East Lincoln. She received her nursing certificate and works for a company that performs home visits for geriatric patients.”
On an annual basis, the Lincoln County Coalition Against Child Abuse and the Child Advocacy Center awards various individuals and organizations for their work and contributions throughout the year. The awards were as follows:
The Multi-Disciplinary Team Member of the Year Award was given to Kelly Miles who works with Lincoln County Social Services.
The Ola Mae Foster Award was given to Amand “Catie” Patton of GW Laboratories.
The Melinda Houser Award went to the Gaston Lincoln Partnership for Children.
Suzan Famulari received the Volunteer of the Year Award.
Dr. Steven Austin received the Champion for Children Award.
The Sally Dellinger Lifetime Achievement award for Child Victim Services went to former Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter.
A special memorial award was given this year to Bob Hecht for his hosting of the “Day of the Lake” event for Lincoln County foster children.