By Kim Morava
A non-profit foundation has been formed to benefit the Unzner Child Advocacy Center in Shawnee, which last year saw 350 children affected by sexual or other forms of abuse.
The Centre handles forensic interviews and evidence collection in cases involving abuse against children. Already this year, about 75 children have been seen at the facility, where officials work to provide a comfortable, home-like setting for the children.
Amy Modlin, executive director of the Unzner Centre, said the Centre is primarily funded through grants and donations, so the Friends of the Unzner Child Advocacy Centre Foundation has been formed.
The Unzner Centre currently utilizes a rented building in Shawnee, but Modlin said they are running out of space there and hope to eventually expand to a bigger building, as they need additional exam rooms and waiting areas for the children they see there, who sometimes can be at the facility for hours at a time.
While fundraising efforts are working toward that effort, Modlin said there’s always a need for funds to purchase items for the center.
Clothes are always a necessity, she said, and having an on-site inventory of children’s clothing is needed in cases where the clothes a child is wearing during a forensic visit must be collected as evidence in a case. Modlin said about 90 percent of the children seen at the facility are affected by sexual abuse.
To help in many areas, the Foundation is preparing for its first fundraiser, the Pirate and Princess Gala, which is scheduled on March 30.
The gala is intended to benefit the Unzner Centre, which is to help provide the Centre with needed funds for a multitude of needs, the Pirate and Prince Gala fundraiser is being planned for Saturday, March 30.
Modlin said parents and grandparents are encouraged to attend and bring their pirates and princesses, ages one to 12.
“We wanted to make it a family event,” she said.
Girls are encouraged to attend in princess attire, while boys should dress up as pirates. With the popularity of both right now, Modlin said it should be a fun event for all.
The Gala is planned from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center conference center in Shawnee.
Cost to attend is a $25 donation per pirate or princess, with additional family pirate or princesses admitted for $12.
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The gala includes light snacks and refreshments, a best costume contest, a princess boutique station, a tattoo parlor, face painting and treasure hunts.
As part of the event, special guests will include Capt. Jack Sparrow and Capt. Hook, Modlin said, along with Cinderella and Rapunzel.
“It should be an afternoon of family fun,” she said, with the event concluding with an Easter Egg hunt. Raffle prizes also will be awarded.
Those interested in attending can register online at: https://www.eventbrite.com/org/3212223258.
Tickets also can be purchased at the door. For more information, all the Unzner Centre, 273-0323.