by Carolyn Meade
In June 2004, the Women’s Impact Fund awarded its very first grants as an organization. One of the grantees chosen was Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center. WIF awarded a startup grant to Pat’s Place in the amount of $100,000 to hire a full time case manager and create a support service model for children who had experienced the most serious forms of child abuse. Not only was this WIF’s first grant to be awarded, it was transformational for WIF, Pat’s Place and, most importantly, for our community.
Pat’s Place addresses an acute problem faced by child abuse victims in Charlotte. Often, children with the courage to talk about the abuse they have suffered must undergo repeated questioning about the most traumatic event in their lives. Pat’s Place was established to ensure that all the services a child and family needs (medical examinations, forensic interviewing, and advocacy support) could occur in one location – a safe, nurturing, child-friendly environment – at no cost to a child’s family.
According to Pat’s Place, WIF’s grant could not have come at a better time. While Pat’s Place had strong grassroots support, it had little formal funding. Support from WIF propelled the establishment of Pat’s Place as an independent, nonprofit organization and WIF’s early endorsement provided much needed credibility for a fledgling organization trying to establish a strong base of support in the Charlotte community.
Since opening its doors with one staff member in 2005, Pat’s Place has:
- Received full accreditation through National Children’s Alliance;
- Relocated to a larger facility to serve even more children and expand service provision;
- Grown staff size from one child advocate to 15 child abuse professionals with wide ranging expertise;
- Created a partnership with Levine Children’s Hospital Pediatric Resource Center to ensure every child has access to medical services;
- Launched a Prevention and Education program which now provides training to more than 2,000 adults each year;
- Added on-site individual, group, and family therapy services to ensure children heal from the abuse they have experienced, and;
- Been selected as lead agency for Project No Rest – Human Trafficking Task Force (2016)
Today, Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center remains the only center of its kind in Mecklenburg County, serving children from birth to age 18. Pat’s Place provides a safe, nurturing environment where healing begins giving every child the opportunity to become the happy, healthy children they were always meant to be.
WIF’s first-year grant served as a launch pad for Pat’s Place. For WIF, it remains joyous proof that Charlotte women, pooling their resources, can identify a significant problem in the Charlotte community and create significant, lasting impact which transforms our city for the better. WIF members still hold this grant close to our collective organizational heart, and individual WIF members continue to provide a steady stream of volunteers and board members for Pat’s Place.