A non-profit community center that works with sexually and physically abused children is struggling to make it through the rest of its fiscal year after federal funding it relies on to operate was cut.
The Nueces County Children's Advocacy Center, which has an overall annual budget of about $300,000, was counting on a $100,000 federal grant from the U.S. Attorney General's Office.
However, the center was informed last week that it would not be receiving the grant, which makes up about 40 percent of the center's budget, due to federal funding shortages, Executive Director Mindy Guajardo said.
"The grant is something that we've had for years now," Guajardo said. "There just was not enough money to fund all of the appropriations.
"It was a definite, surprising blow to out budget."
District Attorney Carlos Valdez, who serves as a board member for the center, urged the community to get involved to help the center financially.
"The Nueces County Children's Advocacy Center plays a vital role in the coordination of services between our local law enforcement, child protective services and healthcare communities," Valdez said. "A loss of this center would deprive these traumatized children of a greatly needed resource.
"Our community needs to band together to save this center."
The center, at 502 McClendon St. in Corpus Christi, conducted more than 1,700 forensic interviews of children in the Coastal Bend, Guajardo said, adding that number was higher than other children's advocacy centers in the state and with a quarter of their budget.
Representatives from H-E-B stepped forward Friday to announce the grocery chain was donating $50,000 to the center in an effort to keep the center's doors open. Guajardo is hoping the move by H-E-B will spur others to get involved.
"It definitely sent a message out to the community to support the center, but we're only halfway there," Guajardo said.
The center, which has three full-time employees and one part-time employee, was established in 1994 by the Child Abuse Council of South Texas to help facilitate child abuse investigations. It provides services to children from Nueces, San Patricio, Kleberg, Aransas, Bee, Jim Wells, Duval, Brooks, Jim Hogg, Refugio, Live Oak and McMullen counties.
"When we see these kids having so much to deal with and having their parents trying to protect them, it's important for them to have somewhere to come to," Guajardo said. "We want to make sure they can come to us for any of their needs."
For more information on how to donate to the Nueces County Children's Advocacy Center, call 855-9058, or visit www.nuecescac.org.