Champagne and diamonds signify something special. In the case of the UND Northern Plains Children's Advocacy Center, that something special is the kids.
To support its efforts in advocating for children who have been victims of sexual abuse, the center will hold its third annual "Champagne and Ice" fund-raising gala and auction Dec. 15, beginning at 6 p.m., in the downtown Parker Center. In addition to free champagne and the auction, raffle and giveaway of diamonds, there will be jazz musical entertainment, appetizers and desserts ,and a cash bar.
This year's event will feature a silent auction as well as a live auction conducted by Minot auctioneer John Bearman.
Forensic interviewer Christal Warren, seated, and family advocates and therapists Tricia Baldwin and Dave Haugen, gather in the children’s interview room at the UND Northern Plains Child Advocacy Center to look over promotional material for the upcoming Champagne and Ice fund-raiser Wednesday.
The $25 admission tickets are available at Lien's Jewelry, the UND Center for Family Medicine, or at the door. People also can call 852-0836 to reserve tickets.
The fund-raiser, which generated nearly $15,000 last year, is important to the operation of the advocacy center, said director Jeanne LeMay. One of three children's
advocacy centers in North Dakota, the Minot center receives state funding and health insurance reimbursements, but it also depends heavily on grants and donations to support its mission.
National statistics show one of four girls and one of six boys is sexually abused before the age of 18.
The Northern Plains center assists in the investigation of suspected child sexual abuse. A specially-trained forensic interviewer talks with a child while law enforcement and social service personnel participate through a closed-circuit television network. The goal is to create a safe environment where a child can feel comfortable talking about a traumatizing event. Not all do so. At Northern Plains, about 46 percent never disclose abuse, LeMay said.
When a child does disclose abuse, advocacy center staff can assist the child and the family through the court process. The center also provides a specialized medical exam, family advocacy, and child and family therapy.
"These kids and their families really need a lot of support," LeMay said.
Governed by a board of directors, the Northern Plains center serves families throughout the Minot region. Referrals to the center must come through a law enforcement or social service agency.
So far this year, the center has conducted 187 interviews. Interviews generally are for concerns of sexual abuse, although interviews also have been conducted for other types of abuse or with children who have witnessed violence.
Information about the advocacy center and its programs will be presented at the gala.
Gala guests will have the opportunity to bid on a number of gift baskets, restaurant and movie packages and donations from local artists and businesses. The live auction will include a Delta vacation package and University of North Dakota hockey tickets.
The cocktail hour and silent auction begin at 6 p.m. The silent auction closes at 7:45 p.m. and is followed by the live auction at 8 p.m. Guests can expect a gala atmosphere and may wish to dress formally but are welcome to dress casually.