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73 InnovativeHealthMag.com ment of Children and Families. It offers more programs for children and families than any other advocacy center in Florida, and only a handful nation-ally exceed it. Yet for all these achievements Jill says “we remain a ‘dark agency.’ When families work with other social service organizations, they can talk about their back story then brag about their suc-cess. But no one we benefit shouts our ac-complishments out to neighbors and friends, family and coworkers, because that would admit the worst kind of abuse occurred in their home.” Val, the Director of Clinical and Preven-tion Services, oversees Family Alliance, CAC’s therapeutic services program. “Children be-gin treatment because an adult mistreated, maltreated, or abused them, whether it be physical, mental, or sexual. We also treat children who have witnessed domestic violence or been a victim of bullying. During the initial phase of treatment, the child is usually exhibiting trauma symptoms and experiencing a high level of anxiety; in addition, the child is struggling with trust issues, and often feels ashamed. Then sud-denly one day you see it,” marvels Val. “They come out the other side! They emerge, return to school, play with friends, and night-mares end. It’s a joyous occasion.” Prevention Services encompasses four vitally important programs that benefit not only the clients, but the community as a whole. Pine Manor is a blighted neighbor-hood in South Fort Myers where violent and illegal activity is a daily occurrence. CAC has been a committed partner with the Pine Manor Neighborhood Association for over a decade, and provides a safe place for the children to come after school and during the summer. Staff provide positive reinforcement through education and fun field trips to places and events the kids would otherwise never experience. The main push is to broaden and improve reading skills because “If you can read, you can make it in life,” Val philosophizes correctly. Val proudly states that “CAC thrives greatly due to our willing-ness to partner and collaborate with four community agencies ‘‘ They come out the other side! They emerge, return to school, play with friends, and nightmares end. It’s a joyous occasion.” ‘‘


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