The executive director of Ray of Hope told a group of community and business leaders recently that child abuse can be found anywhere — including Bell County.
Ray of Hope is a children’s advocacy center based out of Pineville since July, 2011.
Speaking to the group during a luncheon in Middlesboro, Gina Johnson stressed, “Children cannot protect themselves. They must depend on adults around them to keep them safe.”
“Where is child abuse?,” asked Johnson. “Can it be found in Bell County? Yes. Abuse can be found almost anywhere and everywhere. Three million children die per year due to abuse.”
Johnson spoke of Ray of Hope’s increased presence at area schools. Johnson was alluding to much of the work being done by Jessica Jordan, prevention educator for Ray of Hope.
Area schools occasionally contact Ray of Hope to come and speak to groups and classrooms of children. Jordan is the person that usually does the in-school training. Most of Jordan’s invites are coming from middle schools, but she has also visited schools in grades lower than middle school. Jordan has received the majority of invites from Bell County and Pineville schools.
Ray of Hope seeks to provide confidential services to victimized children and compassionate support to non-offending parents and, or caregivers. They continue to exists to address the neglect, and the mental, emotional and physical needs of children. They also offer parenting classes and counseling services.
During the luncheon, Johnson spoke of equipment Ray of Hope needs.
“As it stands right now, if someone experiences sexual abuse and a physical exam is needed, that person will have to be sent to Hazard because we don’t have the necessary equipment anywhere closer than that,” said Johnson.
Although Ray of Hope has had some important donations regarding medical equipment, there are still one or two important items that are essential.
One such item is called a Colposcope, said Johnson. After acquiring a Colposcope, Ray of Hope believes they will be ready to better serve the area and avoid the need for abuse victims to travel to Hazard.
Hopes are high goals will be reached soon.
Ray of Hope’s first annual fundraiser will be held on May 14, at the Pine Mountain State Park. There will be a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and a program at 6:30.
The keynote speaker for the fundraiser will be Cynthia Rogers, wife of Congressman Hal Rogers. Tickets for the event are $35.
For more information or to contact Ray of Hope, call 606-654-2155, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Shane Pippin at (606) 248-1010, ext. 204