Child Protect preparing for move

Published 5:14 pm Friday, August 26, 2011

The Child Protect Children’s Advocacy Center in Clanton is preparing to move into a larger space downtown at the end of September to accommodate its growing number of children in Chilton County in need of its services.

Child Protect is a non-profit organization that provides assistance to children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse.

Jana Zuelzke, a forensic interviewer and therapist, said the Chilton County satellite office has seen an increase in child abuse cases in the last several years, and the space it currently rents from Dr. Renee Smith on Lumac Road is simply too small now.

“That was a great starting space, but we need our own space now,” Zuelzke said. “We are starting to provide more services.”

Zuelzke said Child Protect in Clanton is in the process of adding play therapy rooms as part of the organization’s counseling services.

The organization will use money from a grant through the Wal-Mart Foundation to purchase equipment for rooms, and donations and proceeds from the Aug. 20 benefit concert will fund services such as counseling.

“(There are) great people in this community that have been so supportive and have helped us keep the office open to help the kids out,” Zuelzke said. “We’ll take anybody’s money anytime.”

Andrew Evans of Clanton, a child himself, demonstrated this summer the impact one person can make on an entire city.

Evans’ father, Cary, said his son came to him several months ago in search of a way to give back to children less fortunate in Chilton County.

“The first organization we chose was the Methodist Children’s Home,” Evans said.

Through this organization, they met Zuelzke and eventually contacted her with a proposal called “Andrew’s Mission.”

Evans’ proposal was to donate 50 percent of his earnings from his lawn care service to Child Protect. The other 50 percent would cover the cost for his transportation and supplies.

“I’m trying to teach my son how to give back,” Evans said. “He’s just a big-hearted kid.”

In his letter, Andrew said community support was “bigger than just helping a little boy to make summer money.” Evans raised $105 for Child Protect in Clanton.

Zuelzke said the organization does everything in its power to make post-abuse procedures less traumatic for children.

“That’s why community support and dollars are so important,” Zuelzke said. “It’s happening a lot more than people realize in our county.”