C’dale Rotary Club launches effort to help victimized kids | AspenTimes.com

C’dale Rotary Club launches effort to help victimized kids

When a kid in the Roaring Fork Valley is neglected or abused they often must enter a bureaucratic world that can be frightening in its own way.They might be rushed off to the emergency room, then to the local cop shop and finally to a social services office so the proper authorities can examine them and investigate their case. The kids go to the professionals because the professionals can’t always go to them.But the Rotary Club of Carbondale Aspen Glen is trying to change how the valley deals with what its members consider an overshadowed problem. The group is heading efforts to create a “child friendly facility” where victims of neglect, abuse or sexual assault can be cared for and interviewed.Actress Joyce Bulifant, who now lives in Carbondale, took up the cause after learning about the extent of child abuse cases in Pitkin and Garfield counties. There have been an average of 340 “validated” abuse and neglect cases over the last four years in the counties. The vast majority of cases are in Garfield County, but Pitkin County is far from immune.Bulifant said national studies indicate only about one-third of cases are reported, so the local problem could be much more severe.Data from the Pitkin and Garfield county social services departments and district attorney’s office for the two counties shows there were 1,961 reports and 1,102 validated cases of physical abuse and neglect in the two counties between 2000 and 2003. There were 326 reports and 257 validated cases of sexual assault or abuse over that same period. The Rotary Club is heading efforts to create a Children’s Advocacy Center, but Bulifant said a broad spectrum of people and agencies are participating in a task force that’s studying the problem and seeking a solution.She said the task force doesn’t want to create a new nonprofit to operate the center. Members believe the facility could be effectively folded under the umbrella of a hospital or existing nonprofit.But task force members also feel it is essential to create a facility dedicated exclusively to helping the victims of abuse. Ideally that facility would be in Glenwood Springs, Bulifant said. The goal is to build a facility or convert an existing structure.Bulifant said members are hoping to have a building donated. Funds are needed to operate and possibly build such a facility. The Rotary Club of Carbondale Aspen Glen is hosting two events this weekend to raise funds.A musical presentation of “I Do, I Do,” will be performed after cocktails and dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11 at the Hotel Colorado. Tickets are $75.Saturday night the Rotary will host a Sweetheart Ball from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Hotel Colorado. It features cocktails, dinner and music by the Sirens. Tickets are $100 per person.Tickets for both events are available at Sounds Easy Video in Carbondale, Travel King in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, and the Hotel Colorado.Bulifant and her husband, Roger Perry, will star in “I Do, I Do,” a turn-of-the-century love story. Bulifant has extensive stage, television and film experience, including roles on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Just Shoot Me” as well as the movie “Airplane!”Perry guest starred in “Star Trek” and had roles in “The Facts of Life” and “Falcon Crest.” People who want to donate to the Children’s Advocacy Center but can’t attend the fund raisers can call Bulifant at 963-8838.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com

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