Cool fall weather and live country music filled the air at the Hitchcock Farm on the Santa Fe River Ranch last Friday.
Students, nonprofit workers and Alachua County residents gathered for the Children’s Advocacy Center’s sixth annual Gainesville Gone Austin.
The event was catered by Chuy’s and featured a variety of exquisite desserts, a beautiful venue brightened by carefully strung lights and even a guest appearance by the University of Florida’s very own Albert and Alberta.
The Child’s Advocacy Center is a comprehensive, child-friendly facility where professionals from law enforcement, medical, child protection and therapeutic services effectively collaborate to meet the individual needs of child victims and break the cycle of abuse.
Alachua County has the second highest number of reports of child abuse, according to Kim Bryant, program assistant and volunteer coordinator.
In 2013, the Center provided nearly 48,000 services to over 1,418 children and 961 of their caregivers.
A portion of the CAC’s funding comes from grants, but the majority of it comes from donations—which is why this fundraiser is so important to the organization.
“Our goal this year is to raise $100,000 for the Center’s services to abused and neglected children.” said Margot Wilder, Director of Development. “The most we’ve ever raised was last year, $85,000.”
The community response to the event was remarkable. About a week before the fundraiser, all the volunteer spots had been filled.
“It’s a very exciting time as the Center prepares for a capital campaign where all the agencies that serve abused children in our community will work together in one building,” said Wilder.
The new facility, Jay’s Place, aims to help families in crisis receive all of the services they need, with ease and accessibility. Based on a national study by the National Children’s Alliance and Duke University in 2006, it is estimated to save the community about $1000 per case.
According to the center, the Board of Directors of the Child Advocacy Center have identified a potential site for the facility.
The money raised by the Gainesville Gone Austin will put the CAC one step closer to their goal of purchasing the building.
Fundraising strategies included an auction, basket bidding and a cowboy hat which was passed around for collecting donations.
The CAC sold more tickets and sponsorships than ever before, exceeding their goal.
“It’s going to be at least $110,000,” said Wilder.