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Angels Autumn Fest raises funds for child advocacy
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Children’s Advocacy Center executive director Martha Phillips and president Rick Perez pose for a picture at the annual Angels Autumn Fest banquet Thursday night at the Civic Center.
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Dola Searle is recognized as Angel of the Year during the Children’s Advocacy Center banquet.

It’s alarming the number of children in our community who suffer physical and sexual abuse.

For those most vulnerable in our society, the Children’s Advocacy Center is there to help.

“We have 600 to 700 cases of child abuse referred to us every year,” said Children’s Advocacy Center executive director Martha Phillips. “Of those, about 200 are very severe cases of physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, or drug families. With the opioid epidemic the way it is, you’d be amazed at the drugs some parents take and still try to function.”

The 11th annual Angels Autumn Fest was held Thursday night at McMinnville Civic Center as a fundraiser for the organization.

Phillips said the goal was to sell 300 tickets and she was pleasantly surprised with having 325 in attendance.

Among those was Dola Searle, who has been a big supporter of the Children’s Advocacy Center over the years. For her contributions, she was honored with the Angel of the Year award along with her husband, Dr. Bob Searle.

“They don’t have children of their own, but they love children and it’s always been a special focus of theirs to help as many children as they can,” said Dola’s niece, Ann DeLoach.

The support is crucial, Phillips says, because CAC gets about 15 to 20 percent of its annual funding from this one event. The evening included banquet staples such as dinner, wine, an auction, and live entertainment.

The event is expected to be the last for Phillips, who has resigned her position. She plans to move to Florida in the coming months to be closer to family members there. The goal is to have a new executive director hired in October so that person can train with Phillips before she leaves in November.

If you know of child abuse, you are required to report it by law. The child abuse hotline is (877) 237-0004.