‘Imagine’ fundraiser fights child abuse

River Bridge Regional Center holds its fourth annual “Imagine” fundraiser Saturday, with all proceeds benefiting the Glenwood Springs-based nonprofit’s child advocacy programs.

The event takes place from 6 to 10 p.m. at River Valley Ranch’s Old Thompson Barn, with tickets $50 in advance and $55 at the door if they don’t sell out. The Leonard Curry Trio will give the evening a “mellow, mix and mingle vibe,” with food from Pan and Fork, Allegria and Smoke. There will also be a photo booth and a chance to pose with Frazier the dog, an essential part of the team.

“People love the event, which is why we keep doing it,” said executive director Blythe Chapman. “I think the community has really started to see it as the big chance to support us.”

According to Chapman, the title alludes to the idea of a world in which River Bridge wasn’t needed.

“Imagine a child could feel safe speaking up,” she said. “Imagine a world where people never abuse children in the first place.”

Chapman hopes that in addition to raising much-needed money for child abuse treatment and prevention, “Imagine” will help raise community awareness during National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

That’s no small challenge, as Kerry Ach finds when explaining her position as a forensic interviewer – providing the knowledge and safe environment and for children to talk about abuse.

“People don’t think it happens here,” she said. “It’s an easier world to live in if you don’t need to struggle with that reality.”

In fact, law enforcement in Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle, and Rio Blanco counties sent 176 kids to River Bridge in 2015, and the first quarter of 2016 suggests they’ll see more this year.

“That’s probably a small fraction of the number of children that could have been served had all reports come through,” Champan observed. “The kids that come through here are the ones that we know are going to be OK … It’s the kids we don’t know about that really keep me up at night.”

To help with that figure, River Bridge is hosting community courses on preventing child sex abuse from 6:30 to 8 p.m. April 18 at Elk Creek Elementary and April 20 at Highland Elementary.

Their motto is “where silence ends and healing begins.”

“That’s really what happens here,” Champan said. “We’re ending that culture of fear. Abuse grows and flourishes in silence.”

Source: http://www.postindependent.com/news/21549004-113/imagine-fundraiser-fights-child-abuse