On Tuesday, September 21, 2010 the Gulf Coast Kids House Board of Directors is hosting the “Breaking the Silence Annual Meeting” at the Pensacola Yacht Club. This is a moving educational program about Gulf Coast Kid’s House and includes a history of the organization, it’s mission, statistical facts about the lives of many children in the Pensacola area, and powerful testimonials, all offered during an hour-long breakfast meeting.
The Gulf Coast Kids House Began As An Idea in 1997
The idea for creating the Gulf Coast Kids House began in 1997 when local professionals recognized the need for a unified system where children who were victims of child abuse could tell the story of their abuse only one time, in one place, where all of the agencies involved in the prosecution of child abuse, and the healing process for an abused child could listen and observe. Rather than make an abused child tell their story to stranger after stranger in multiple locations, it’s done in one kid-friendly, neutral environment. This approach spares a child of reliving their abuse over and over again, helps them to begin the healing process sooner, and fosters an environment where the many agencies involved in a child abuse case can work cohesively.
In 2002 the not-for-profit organization purchased a building in need of refurbishment, the future home of Gulf Coast Kid’s House (GCKH) at 3401 North 12th Avenue, Pensacola. In 2003 the building was renovated to accommodate agencies involved in prevention, investigation, and prosecution of child abuse. The grand opening of Gulf Coast Kid’s House was held in 2004. After the opening in 2004 GCKH provided approximately 2000 services to children who were victims of abuse. By 2006 GCKH provided approximately 3200 services to children who were victims of abuse, and the numbers keep growing.
Mr. Tip McAlpin, Incoming Board President
Mr. Tip McAlpin, one of Pensacola’s premier interior decorators, of McAlpin Interiors, is the incoming President of the Board of Directors for Gulf Coast Kids House. I had the opportunity to ask Tip about his participation in the Gulf Coast Kids House. His initial introduction to the organization came from his brother, Richard. Tip volunteered to help with the refurbishment and design of the building to insure it was a kid-friendly environment. A half dozen local designers joined forces, worked on a tight budget and created a space with donated furniture and art that makes the kids feel comfortable.
Says McAlpin, “I have been involved with GCKH since the plans for a children’s advocacy center began. I was instrumental in forming a group of 6 local designers who worked together for over a year (totaling over 1000 hours) in planning and executing the design for our new facility. We officially opened our doors in February 2004. I wanted to become involved when I realized that over 1200 children are physically or sexually abused in Escambia county each year. If we as adults do not step up and protect and defend them, then who will? The children’s advocacy center provides the child one place and one time to tell their horrible young life experience that they suffered at the hands of adults. A sign over our front door reads, “small voices heard here.”
Where Does the Funding Come From?
The Gulf Coast Kids House does not receive guaranteed federal or state government funding. There are random grants approved, but most of the funding for operational expenses is dependent upon corporate and individual donations. There are only three full-time employees, but an army of committed volunteers keeps the program going. Donations are needed.
To learn more about the Gulf Coast Kids House or to make a charitable contribution, attend the “Breaking the Silence Annual Meeting” at the Pensacola Yacht Club on Tuesday, September 21, 2010. For more information contact Debra Bond, Office Manager at (850) 595-5823 or call the GCKH at (850) 595-5800. There is great satisfaction and joy in knowing that you helped to make a positive difference in the life of a child.