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CAC holds open house Wednesday

Child abuse is a problem Pike County continues to face.

But, thanks to places like the Pike Regional Child Advocacy and Family Resource Center, it’s a problem many in the community are working diligently to end, said the center’s executive director Mona Watson.

The CAC celebrated its fifth year Wednesday with an open house, and the work done by all organizations involved was recognized at the gathering.

From the Department of Human Resources, to East Central Mental Health, to local law enforcement and Troy University, Watson said the success of the organization is something that couldn’t have happened without all involved in the community.

But on the other end, members of those organizations said the center is one that could not have come to happen without Watson.

“We could not be doing any of this without Watson,” said Carol Booker, with East Central Mental Health.

Still, Booker said the CAC, which serves Pike, Bullock, Coffee and Barbour Counties, is one that is very unique in structure.

“What makes this center so unique from others is from day one, the work of so many were committed to make this a reality,” Booker said.

East Central Mental Health, who provide two counselors to the center, also are joined by several others who work with the community.

Several students from Troy University in the Psi Chi and Psi Lambda psychology organizations, help mentor at the center, and several other students serve as volunteers and hold fundraising events.

In its time, the center has aided more than 670 children who suffer from trauma or abuse, but they have also begun working with all members of the family.

Bonnie Cannon, psychology professor at Troy University, teaches parenting classes at the event.

“The parents here are really no different than most of the community. They just need to be educated,” Cannon said. “They really do care about their kids, they just don’t know how.”

Kelly Hawkins, director of the family protection unit for the Alabama Attorney General’s office, said the work of the advocacy center is something that keeps her operation running.

“This center has heard the cries and not made the decision to turn away,” Hawkins said. “Each child that crosses the floors here is loved.”