Cape Vincent church supports child abuse victims through community partnership
image above: Members of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cape Vincent were at an October 18th Open House hosted by the Child Advocacy Center of Northern New York (CAC), celebrating CAC’s new facilities. CAC provides assistance to children who have survived sexual or physical abuse.
“Almost the entire parish is involved either by donation of goods, money, or time. We don’t have any children in our parish—and now we have 350!”
When St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cape Vincent found themselves with an empty rectory, one member suggested opening the building as a safe house for victims of abuse. Initial conversations with the Victims Assistance Center of Jefferson County revealed that the rectory was unsuitable for this purpose due to security considerations, but led the church to a new partnership with the Child Advocacy Center of Northern New York (CAC). CAC helps children who have survived physical or sexual abuse in St. Lawrence, Jefferson, and Lewis counties. Last year, CAC helped 350 children in Jefferson county alone.
At first, St. John’s was donating small items like snacks, juice boxes, and clean underpants to the center. As the relationship grew, members learned that CAC staff provide homemade blankets to children needing forensic exams, for use in place of paper drapes; the child is then allowed to keep their blanket. St. John’s began a “comfort blanket” ministry, blessing homemade blankets for the children who come through CAC. The church also provides backpacks and school supplies at the start of each school year.
And the rectory that started the whole partnership became an asset to CAC after all—when the church ultimately sold the building in 2017, they donated $25,000 from the sale proceeds to the Center, and pledged an additional $5,000 over four years. Thanks in part to this gift, the CAC was recently able to move to a new facility. St. John’s members were delighted to attend the Center’s recent open house celebrating the move.
“Almost the entire parish is involved either by donation of goods, money, or time,” says Charlie Fix, a member of St. John’s vestry. “We don’t have any children in our parish—and now we have 350!”