Child Advocates of Fort Bend Gearing up for 30th Birthday Gala Celebration

Child Advocates of Fort Bend is marking 30 years of serving child victims of abuse and their families with a 30th Birthday Gala Celebration on Saturday, May 8, 2021. This fun, adult event, will take place at the Sugar Land Marriott Town Square and will feature a live band, live and silent auctions, a raffle and wine and gift card pulls. Michele Fisher will serve as emcee for the evening and Johnny Bravo will join her as auctioneer.

“We’re planning a great evening and have a lot of fun things in store for our guests,” stated Development Director Lisa Moore.  “What’s a birthday party celebration without a party band?  “Soul Relief”, a 6-piece party band will play throughout the evening. In addition, dancers from Cookie Joe’s Dancin’ School will delight guests with a live performance. A few highlights of our auction include a private home that sleeps 17 on a private beach, a fishing excursion, a trip to LA with tickets to a live taping of Ellen and more,”  she added.

“We are balancing a party atmosphere with safety considerations and will be following CDC guidelines with safety protocols in place. We will have tables for 8 instead of 10 and we’re adding extra space in our silent auction and throughout the ballroom to help with social distancing. Guests will be required to wear masks except when eating and drinking,” continued Moore.

For those who are unable to attend in person, we will offer online bidding for the silent auction and a ghost bidder for bidding on live auction items.

Support of this event which helps to fund the agency’s services has never been more critical. “The number of children and families needing our services continues to increase,” stated Child Advocates of Fort Bend CEO Ruthanne Mefford. “Last year, Child Advocates of Fort Bend served 22% more children and families in 2020 than in 2019 which continues the upward trend we have been experiencing every year.  Over the past eight years, we are up 60% in demand for our services.”

“Initially reports of abuse were down because the pandemic meant that fewer eyes were checking on children’s welfare when schools went remote,” said Mefford.  Yet, abuse was still happening and in fact accelerating during the pandemic due to isolation, stressors, increased use of alcohol, depression and anxiety surrounding the virus, and loss of loved ones.  As things started to open up, we anticipated that we would see an increase in reports of abuse and neglect with more children and families needing services and that is exactly what we are seeing. “We are up 42% just in the first three months of 2021 compared to last year at this time,” added Mefford.  “Our doors have remained open throughout the pandemic with our Children’s Advocacy Center providing forensic interviews, therapy, medical referrals and clinical case management to children and families.  Our Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) staff and Advocates connected with the children in foster care virtually and attended court by Zoom,” continued Mefford.  “With the increases in reports of abuse, our staff and volunteers are challenged to make sure that children and families are seen and that their needs are being met.  We have also increased our community outreach and education about abuse so that the public is aware of what might be happening to our children and can do their part to keep children safe,” she added.

As a nonprofit organization, Child Advocates of Fort Bend relies on donations and community support to maintain its services to children.  With last year’s cancellation of in-person fundraising events, the agency was hit hard.  “This year’s Gala marks our first in-person fundraiser in over a year and we are hoping that the community will come out to support us.  We cannot do the work we do without the community.  We need your help,”  said Moore.

Sponsorship and underwriting opportunities ranging from $2,000 to $15,000 are available. Individual seats are $150. This is your chance to join Confetti Presenting Sponsor Exchange Club of Sugar Land in making a difference for children. To attend, become a sponsor, donate an auction item or for more information, go to https://www.cafb.org/events/gala/ or contact Tarina Sheridan at TSheridan@cafb.org.

Shown getting ready to mail the sponsor invitations (L to R) are: Child Advocates of Fort Development Officer Dana Mersiovsky, Volunteer Michelle Cano and Child Advocates of Fort Bend Events Specialist Tarina Sheridan. The agency’s annual Gala and auction raises funds to support its programs for abused and neglected children.