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Co-op brings Tu Casa one step closer to building goal

Posted: Thursday, Dec 27th, 2012

MVC CEO Mike Boothe (left) presents the Land O’ Lakes check to Tu Casa Executive Director Ashley Riley Lopes (center) and board member Wendi Seger (right).

MONTE VISTA — The Land O’Lakes Foundation matches dollar-for-dollar the cash donation of member cooperatives, thus doubling the funds available for hometown projects.

On Dec. 20, a match between the Monte Vista Co-op and Land-O Lakes brought Tu Casa, Inc. closer to its goal of building the San Luis Valley Children’s Advocacy Center (SLV CAC).

By matching funds for projects selected and funded by member cooperatives, Land O’Lakes Foundation leverages local funding efforts and ensures community support for programs.

MVC CEO Mike Boothe presented the Land O’ Lakes check to Tu Casa Executive Director Ashley Riley Lopes and Board member Wendi Seger.

Lopes said the funds would go directly to the Children’s Advocacy Center.

An MVC statement said that the donation would aid in the construction of the center, which will be a child-friendly, positive environment, where both the child and his or her non-offending caregivers will be cared for. “There is a real need for a facility of this type, as the nearest children’s advocacy center is approximately two hours away.”

The SLV CAC will ensure that children are not further victimized by the intervention systems designed to protect them. It is estimated that the Program will serve 60 children in the first year of operations, and an estimated 100 in the second.

The creation of a local space where representatives from many disciplines can work together, conducting joint forensic interviews and making team decisions about the investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of child abuse cases would greatly impact the entire region. By locating all involved services under one child-friendly “roof,” the investigation can be less scary. Involved agencies can ensure a standardization of procedures and quality evidence collection, leading to better cases and higher rates of prosecution for perpetrators of abuse.

Providing these specific services in the same facility as the advocacy and counseling services Tu Casa already provides will increase the chances that children and their caregivers seek and receive aftercare including therapy and advocacy services, thereby lessening the number of child victims who fall through the cracks.

An appropriate response to child abuse can help victims avoid other problems in their teen or adult life. Adults who are abused or neglected as children are at a greater risk for a variety of negative physical and mental health conditions when compared with adults who are not abused as children. Adults who were maltreated as children are more likely to engage in behaviors that put them at further risk for negative outcomes, including: alcohol and drug abuse; anti-social behaviors; risky sexual behavior; eating disorders; daily cigarette use; poor pre- and post-natal care; and self-mutilation. Lastly, women with a history of child sexual abuse are much more likely to be re-victimized sexually and physically as adults.

By providing access to mental health care and support for all child abuse victims and their non-offending caregivers, Tu Casa and its partners hope to lessen the long-term negative effects of child abuse and curb the steady increase of both sexual assault and domestic violence incidents occurring in the community.

For more information about SLC CAC, phone Lopes at 589-2465 or e-mail ASHLEY@SLVTUCASA.NET.

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