Photography of Sarah Beth Lowe & Kerry Moody by Laura Walker
In 2020, more than 10,000 Arkansas children were served by Child Advocacy Centers in Arkansas. Thousands of others, unfortunately, suffered in silence and secrecy. That’s a sobering truth.
The Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas (CACAR) provides a safe, child-focused and non-threatening environment that meets the immediate and long-term needs of abuse victims utilizing a multi-disciplinary approach.
CACAR operates 27 Child Advocacy Center (CAC) locations across the state serving all 75 counties. The organization is funded through private donations and grants. The Woman of Inspiration Dinner represents CACAR’s largest fundraising event, which will be held on October 6 at the Statehouse Convention Center.
Kerry Moody and Sarah Beth Lowe are co-chairs for this year’s event, which took a one-year hiatus in 2020 because of COVID-19. “Sarah Beth and I were named co-chairs of the 2020 dinner that was postponed,” says Kerry. “But it didn’t stop us from trying to raise funds. In fact, we raised about $100,000, which is quite good considering the circumstances.”
Sarah Beth, a Little Rock realtor, became involved in CACAR after attending the 2016 dinner and hearing child abuse survivors tell their story. “There were two brothers who told their heart-wrenching stories of being abused by a coach,” Sarah Beth comments. “As a mother of three young sons at the time, their story really touched my heart. I knew I had to be involved.”
Kerry, deputy chief of staff for the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, says the work provided by CACAR will not be finished until child abuse is eradicated. “We know that it may not be possible to stop all child abuse, but what we can do through the work of CACAR is to help child victims and their non-offending families realize a brighter future through services that promote physical and mental healing with experts in the field,” says Kerry. “Additionally, we want children in rural areas to have the same access to services as more populated areas.
When a young victim who has been sexually abused, physically abused or neglected arrives at a CACAR location, they tell their story – one time – to a trained interviewer. The information gathered is shared with law enforcement and other team members. A needs assessment is then conducted to determine the victim’s medical and mental health needs. A family advocate is assigned to the child to ensure that proper services are rendered and to provide guidance through the investigative and legal process. “All services are free to victims and their non-offending family members,” Sarah Beth says. “So, our goal for 2021 is to raise $500,000, which we believe we can achieve since we can resume our in-person event.”
CACAR also works to educate people to observe the warning signs of possible abuse, which include changes in behavior such as aggression and anger; anxiety or depression; frequent absences from school; reluctance to leave school or church activities, representing an obvious fear of going home; rebellious or defiant behavior; and physical symptoms such as bruises in uncommon places on the body. These warning signs are consistent in girls and boys.
The 2021 Woman of Inspiration honoree is Arkansas native Gene Jones, the wife of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. The Jones family, through the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation, is involved with and provides financial support to a number of non-profit organizations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that assist children in need. “Through the years, the Jones family has clearly demonstrated its commitment to helping others in Arkansas and Texas by leveraging the fame of the most powerful brand in professional sports,” says Kerry. “That’s why Gene Jones is a most-deserving honoree.”
The October 6 dinner includes a fashion show featuring the designs of Michael Toccin. TOCCIN (NY) fashion is carried at Saks Fifth Avenue, Dillard’s and locally at Barbara/Jean. Photo provided by TOCCIN
Sponsorships and tables remain available for the event and can be purchased at arwomanofinspiration.org.
To report suspected child abuse, call 1-844-SAVE-A-CHILD.