Amberly’s Place lost a critical and beloved member of the family on March 30. Goldie Love, a certified therapy dog, died at the age of 10. The golden retriever was almost 11 when she “passed over the rainbow bridge.”
Goldie joined the family advocacy center in 2013. She was certified and trained to work with victims. She brought comfort to countless victims, young and old, in Yuma County.
She would lay her head on the laps of victims who had experienced a loss. Children who were scared needed her the most.
Amberly’s Place has kicked off its annual Week in Paradise fundraiser, and the early-bird drawing will take place Wednesday evening.
The drawing for “paradise” vacation packages is the agency’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The family advocate center uses the funds to help abuse victims in Yuma County and parts of Imperial County with their emergency needs.
This year 11 packages will be given away, with the early-bird winner drawn at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Z Fun Factory. The early-bird winner will receive four 2022 season passes to Waylon’s Water World and a day at Z Fun Factory for four with dinner, go-karts, miniature golf and arcade games; and two active recovery or therapeutic massages by Myolab.
The early-bird winner will also be entered for a chance to win one of the remaining 10 vacation prizes.
Cynthia Sanks, with SYNERGY Home Care, carries an armload of stuffed teddy bears into Amberly's Place, 1310 S. 3rd Ave., Thursday morning. SYNERGY donated 300 teddy bears to the family advocacy center, then went down the road and donated another batch of bears to Crossroads Mission. "It's the right thing to do, " said Rob Dunn, co-owner and Director of Operations at SYNERGY HomeCare of Yuma. The donation couldn't have come at a better time, said Tori Bourguignon, Executive Director at AMBERLYS PLACE, who said the facility was running low on stuffed bears.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the message from Amberly’s Place is that child abuse is everyone’s business.
“The importance of this topic cannot be understated. Child abuse creates a lifetime of challenges for survivors. These adverse childhood experiences have long-term consequences to both the physical and mental health,” said Tori Bourguignon, executive director.
In 2021, the family advocacy center provided services to 1,242 primary and secondary victims of child abuse in Yuma County and parts of Imperial County. Secondary victims are those who witness and/or are directly impacted by the abuse of the primary victim.
“We have made great strides as a community in terms of how we report and respond to child abuse cases, but there is still much work to be done to prevent the abuse from happening,” Bourguignon noted.
This month, Amberly’s Place is working to raise awareness of child abuse and how everyone can help prevent it. One way of shining a spotlight on the issue is by “planting” blue pinwheel gardens around town. Pinwheel gardens bring attention to community efforts to support families and public policies that prioritize prevention to make sure child abuse and neglect never occur.
“Pinwheels are used to help educate communities about the importance of supporting children and families,” Bourguignon said. “Shining in the sun, the pinwheel is reflective of the bright future all children deserve and our belief that getting it right early is less costly than trying to fix it later.”
Some of the pinwheel gardens can be found at Southwest Junior High in San Luis, Bushmaster Memorial Wall in Somerton and Yuma Police Department.
What’s in a dining room table? A lot more than may be apparent at first glance. For a family, the table can be a place where everyone gathers, lively discussions are held and homework is done. To many, it’s a central place to meet in a home and that’s precisely why it means so much for a family starting over.
On Thursday, April 7, Dr. David Cullison’s Construction Trades students at Fourth Avenue Junior High presented a brand new table that they budgeted for, designed, measured, cut, sawed, stained and assembled to Amberly’s Place, the family advocacy center that helps victims of abuse, which accepted the table on behalf of a family in need.
“For us, this is an opportunity to facilitate community service for these students and help themselves develop hands-on learning and skills that they will use not just today, but in their futures,” said Tori Bourguignon, director of Amberly’s Place. “And it’s an opportunity to give back to a family in need for their community. A table is a very personal thing so it’s a huge gift for a family.”
Over at Sun Vista RV Resort, a group of quilters helps bring peace through their pieced work. These quilters are known as the Sun Vista Piecemakers and all 68 members are residents of the resort who regularly donate quilts and funds for charitable causes. Among these causes is supporting Amberly’s Place, a family advocacy center that assists victims of abuse, and this year, the Sun Vista Piecemakers presented a $4,200 check to the nonprofit on March 12.
Marion Gilkey, leader of the Piecemakers, explained that the group has been donating quilts and raising funds for Amberly’s Place for years now.
“It’s a very worthy charity,” she said. “They handle domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse and sexual assault.”
Gilkey and her peers shared that they were inspired because they wanted to do something for their community and not just themselves. The group has donated over $58,000 in total to Amberly’s since they got started.
The $4,200 donation is the result of a yearly quilt raffle. The Piecemakers put on a quilt show at their resort, sell tickets to a quilt raffle and donate all the proceeds to Amberly’s. But it doesn’t end there.
The Piecemakers have a sponsored closet of quilts at Amberly’s to be given to everyone who comes in needing help. The quilts in that room are in the hundreds and the Piecemakers make everything from baby quilts to twin-size quilts.
Amberly’s Place closed the year with a 40% increase in physical child abuse, a 25% increase in domestic violence, and a 9% increase in child sexual abuse.
In 2021, the family advocacy center served 2,706 primary and secondary victims in Yuma County and parts of Imperial County. Secondary victims are those who witness and/or are directly impacted by the abuse of the primary victim.
The center helps victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault and elder abuse.
Yuma County Attorney Jon R. Smith (left) talks to the local law enforcement agencies who were present at Friday morning’s 2021 kickoff event for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Yuma Police Department motor officer Jesse Nunez applies his purple “End Domestic Violence” magnetic ribbon to his motorcycle during Friday morning’s 2021 kickoff event for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the parking lot at Amberly’s Place, 1310 S. 3rd Ave. Law enforcement agencies from throughout the area are participating in the annual event. Domestic violence, according to the Amberly’s Place website, is defined as, “ ... the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically.”
As summer continues, donations continue at a slow but steady rate at Amberly’s Place – but the need is always there.
Tori Bourguignon, Amberly’s executive director, says the nonprofit organization particularly needs snacks, Walmart gift cards and monetary donations for the victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse whom it serves.
Snacks are important, as some cases require forensic interviews and sexual assault exams, which can up to take three to six hours hours, she said. Gift cards to Walmart help provide emergency needs for victims, such as door lock replacements or perishable food items.