By VIKAAS SHANKER - firstname.lastname@example.org
JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow was looking for some way to create a local children’s advocacy center to aid child abuse victims and ease the process of prosecuting sexual predators more than two decades ago.
The advocacy center would allow children the opportunity to only sit through one interview, which helped them and prosecutors.
He sought private funds for the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center, or WCCAC, because referendums filled the election ballots at the time. So he approached Sister Coletta Hennessy, O.S.F., of Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center.
Glasgow said Saint Joseph gave a $45,000 grant, which the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services matched. Silver Cross Hospital President and CEO Paul Pawlak donated 3,000 square feet of space for the center.
Later on, Dr. Sangita Rangala of the Care Center at Edward Hospital started working with abused kids through the center and is continuing.
Glasgow reflected on the beginnings of the center at a 20th anniversary celebration Tuesday evening at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, and honored Hennessy, Pawlak and Rangala for their contributions to the center.
Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center, Silver Cross Hospital and Edward Hospital were commended.
Glasgow also formally introduced new WCCAC Executive Director Lisa Las, and a new logo at the celebration.
A crowd of about 150 people gathered in the Rialto lobby to celebrate the 20-year mark of the center, including local, county and state officials.
Glasgow presented Hennessy, Pawlak and Rangala with trophies of recognition.
Glasgow said the center couldn’t have started without Hennessy and her work with social accountability and the community grant program at Saint Joseph.
“She had the foresight, the creativity, to realize this is something we had to move forward,” Glasgow said.
Hennessy said the recognition belongs to the hospital, its staff and the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart.
“We were very happy to do it because [Glasgow’s] philosophy and mission is the same as ours, to help the underserved,” Hennessy said.
Pawlak said the WCCAC does a great job and is an example of dedication and compassion for kids.
“In society today, you need this,” he said about the importance of the WCCAC. “Hospitals and our doctors can’t do everything.”
Rangala, who has been providing medical exams for children since 2002, is dedicated to the center, Glasgow said.
One of her biggest concerns was minimizing the trauma of the exam, Rangala said.
“What I learned very quickly was that it wasn’t a traumatic exam, it was very therapeutic for children,” she said, adding that it’s important to empower kids by giving them the choice of how involved the exam would be.
As Glasgow glimpsed into the journey of the WCCAC, he also welcomed new change.
He introduced Las as the new executive director, noting her experience leading Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties for 11 years.
“She took the agency from a ramshackle hut to a castle,” he said.
Glasgow and Las then unveiled a new logo for the WCCAC, highlighted by four multi-colored handprints.
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