Making an Impact: The Children's Advocacy Center

CAC of Smith County provides a variety of services to care for children who have suffered abuse – any kind of abuse: sexual, physical, emotional, environmental. It is a tragedy they are so busy.
Making an Impact: The Children's Advocacy Center
In: Giving

(1st published 2022)

This week I toured the most wonderful place. This week I toured the most horrible place. Both at the same time.

It started after basketball when my friend, Rusty, a semi-retired CPA, mentioned he served as Treasurer for a local nonprofit organization. Rusty and I have banged into each other on the court for 15 years or so and I never knew this because he is modest. (Rusty is a marvel at 72 - competing at a high level, in shape, and physical. I am his junior by seven years and he wears me out.)

Rusty arranged for me to get the dignitary’s tour of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County. The CEO, Terri, and Chief Development Officer, Deanna--generous with their time--showed me the facility and introduced me to many of the dedicated staff. CAC of Smith County provides a variety of services to care for children who have suffered abuse – any kind of abuse: sexual, physical, emotional, environmental. It is a tragedy they are so busy.

Each child they help makes a colorful handprint to hang on a wall – the walls are covered.

The process begins with a child-friendly, recorded forensic interview that is turned over to law enforcement who bring the guilty to justice. The continuing CAC services include comprehensive medical attention, skilled counseling for the victim and family, financial help (because many times the breadwinner is the abuser), caring personal advocacy through the entire painful process, and follow-up through the long road to recovery and health.

CAC partners closely with Child Protective Services and law enforcement, and both departments have offices in the facility. As Deanna said, “Our multi-disciplinary approach is so helpful – each of us working together to do what is best for the child.”

It takes specially trained, wonderful people to provide these loving services. I don’t believe I could stifle the tears or stem the anger enough to be effective. As I complimented and thanked every person I met, they all had a common response: It is hard, but we love what we do because it is so fulfilling to make a difference and change lives for the better. You see, recidivism in adults is very common. But because children are so malleable, with the proper help they can recover and lead successful lives.

A testament to the dramatic changes CAC brings are the before and after masks the children paint to reflect their emotions. One example: a hideous red, black, and blue grimacing death mask reflecting bitter tears and rage; then, much later, a second mask with gentle colors and traces of sadness and anger remaining, but a big smile.

It is said you can judge a society by how it treats the weakest—young, old, infirm. This requires love – outflowing concern - too rare in our increasingly selfish society. CAC of Smith County and the 70 sister entities across the state are about caring for our innocent and precious children - love in action.

I was struck by Terri and Deanna’s passion, and even Rusty, the stoic warrior on the court, got all soft around the edges – but don’t tell anyone. The organization has outgrown its current facility and plans to move into a five-story building late this year. Most of their budget comes from donations and they are running a capital campaign to complete the new space. [Update: They moved. The new address is 3015 South SE Loop 323, Tyler, TX 75701]

Visit the CAC website to get involved. ( c

If you are looking for a charity to support, I highly recommend you donate generously to CAC of Smith County. Donate Here

You won’t believe how much good will come from it.

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