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Event raises funds for Children's Advocacy Center
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Mia Lan Powers received top recognition at the charity gala with the Children’s Advocacy Center Angel Award. She is pictured with husband Vernon.
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First National Bank employees enjoying themselves at the charity gala are, front row, from left, Dawn Grandey, Shannon Haston and Jane Ann Pryor. Back row, Ross Garrison, Davoua Vang and Andrew Brock.

Some kids don’t get to enjoy the innocence of childhood when life is little more than playing with toy trucks and Barbie dolls.

They have to worry about abuse that comes at the hands of their very own parents, be it physical abuse or sexual molestation.

For these young victims, the Children’s Advocacy Center is poised to help.

“Our No. 1 goal is making sure children are safe,” said District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis. “Not every case is one we can prosecute, but we can get children out of bad situations.”

To generate much-needed funding for the facility, the annual Children’s Advocacy Center Charity Gala was held Thursday night on The Lot in downtown McMinnville. Just over 300 were in attendance.

Mia Lan Powers was the distinguished guest of the night as she was honored with the annual Angel Award.

“She does so much for the Children’s Advocacy Center from the sidelines,” said board president Rick Perez. “There have been a vast number of children and families who have been helped by her generosity.”

The CAC has grown in scope since it operated with only a part-time director in 2006. There are now three full-time employees – the executive director, a forensic interviewer and a family advocate. There are also two part-time employees who provide on-site counseling and educational programs in schools.

“What’s amazing about this community is how engaged everyone is,” said executive director Sarah Loud, who noted the annual gala raised $44,000. Unlike grants that often have restrictions, Loud said the $44,000 is money that can be spent in any capacity to benefit children.

Loud said the CAC has a prevention specialist who visits area schools to inform students about private body areas that are not appropriate for someone else to touch.

“They need to realize if something happens, it’s OK to tell,” said Loud.

The CAC facility itself is kid-friendly to produce an environment that’s not intimidating for little ones. The boy or girl is interviewed once and that interview is recorded to prevent the child from being dragged to several different agencies.

“It’s a one-on-one talk that’s done in a non-leading way,” said Loud.