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Center for advocacy turns 10
center outside jd
A Friend's House recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. - photo by Jim Dean
On the Net

For more information about the Forsyth County Child Advocacy Center, go online at
A local organization that helps abused children celebrated its 10th anniversary Friday.

“A Friend’s House,” the Forsyth County Child Advocacy Center, was founded by Michelle Edwards, who also serves as its executive director.

The center has advocates who are trained and certified in interviewing child abuse victims. The interviews are recorded and can be used in court as part of a child’s testimony.

The center works closely with law enforcement, the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office and the Division of Family and Children Services.

“It’s just really wonderful to think what the advocacy offered when we first opened and 10 years later seeing the development of the staff and what we’re able to provide,” Edwards said.

She said her next step is to reach out to churches and other community groups about training programs that will be offered through the center.

Dawn LaBell and Sonya Waren, who are both certified child advocate coordinators, will teach programs that range from preventing, recognizing and reporting child sexual abuse to parenting skills and teen substance abuse.

“We came up with these programs that we’re all certified to do,” LaBell said. “We have so much to offer and this is the first time that we’re breaking out with training, other than parental training.

“The whole purpose is to prevent further abuse of children.”

Edwards said she’s excited about classes she will teach on stress management, anger management and conflict resolution.

She was recently certified by the Holistic Stress Control Institute of Georgia Training of Trainers and said she likes the mind-body-spirit approach to the classes.

“I really think for some people that’s the missing piece,” she said.

The center welcomed the public Friday for an open house, marking the anniversary.

LaBell explained that the T-shirts hanging on a clothesline across a fence behind the building were painted by children the center has served.

The center also has toys and other furnishings to make the children who come there feel comfortable.

“We do this job because we love the kids,” LaBell said.

Like many organizations, the center has been feeling a financial crunch.

“Our funding has been cut significantly,” LaBell said. “It’s just the way it is.”

She explained that part of the building was damaged by flooding when a water main valve broke. Renovations were recently completed.

Not only was the structure damaged, but also video equipment, supplies and other items that had been donated to the center.

She and Edwards said the facility’s wish list includes children’s furniture, computers, DVD recorders, teddy bears, office supplies, children’s books and a video camera.

Volunteers are also needed.