By Emily Foschio
Niagara Gazette — Niagara County businesswoman Candace Corsaro will never forget the last time she and her three children spent time with the neighbor children, and she will never forget having to tell her children that they wouldn’t see their friends again.
One Christmas Eve night in the late 1970s, Corsaro’s neighbor killed her two children. Corsaro and her children had been with the neighbors that very night, opening Christmas presents and playing merrily.
“My children were too small to understand or remember, but to this day, I remember,” Corsaro said.
Unfortunately, this type of story is not uncommon in our country or our community. The United States has the worst record of any industrialized nation — losing five children every day due to abuse-related deaths. We also see staggering statistics with regard to child sexual abuse. For example, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
Child abuse is not an isolated issue. It happens across all socio-economic levels and all neighborhoods — and it happens in Niagara County. In 2012, the Niagara County Department of Social Services received more than 3,300 reports of child abuse and neglect. They had 326 reports in January 2013 alone.
“The need for services is acute, as child abuse is a growing problem across Niagara County,” said Laura Kelemen, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara. “Protecting our children is a job everyone needs to play a role in.”
With this need in mind, two community agencies dedicated to the protection of children, The Child Advocacy Center of Niagara (CAC) and Family & Children’s Service of Niagara (FACS) host a fundraiser called the Gala for Hope Niagara each year to raise money for the prevention and treatment of child physical and sexual abuse.
This year’s Gala for Hope Niagara will be held April 18 at the Conference Center Niagara Falls, 101 Old Falls Street, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are available online at galaforhopeniagara.com.
The third annual Gala for Hope Niagara will feature wines and tasty treats from elite restaurants and wineries of the Buffalo-Niagara region including Arrowhead Spring Vineyards, Chateau Niagara, Opici Wine Co., Merritt Winery, Lindt Chocolates, Yancey’s Fancy, Water Street Landing, Torches and Wegmans. The event will also feature live music by award-winning local duo Busted Stuff, a basket auction and a silent auction.
The Gala for Hope Niagara will provide an excellent opportunity for patrons to tease their taste buds, explore new beverage and food options, mingle, dance and wind down after a day at work, all while benefitting the children of our community.
“Child physical and sexual abuse impact families all across the county in urban, suburban and rural communities,” said Ken Sass, president & CEO of Family & Children’s Service of Niagara. “Fundraisers like the Gala for Hope Niagara are very important to our combined efforts to prevent abuse and to help those affected by abuse to heal.”
Sponsorships are still available, and those who are unable to attend are can donate by visiting galaforhopeniagara.com. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, contact Laura Kelemen at 285-0045.
Family & Children’s Service of Niagara has served Niagara County one family at a time since 1895. Its mission is to strengthen and care for children, adults and families in need by providing quality human services that effect positive, meaningful changes in their lives. Learn more at www.niagarafamily.org.
The Child Advocacy Center of Niagara, a service of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, is a countywide resource providing a place for multi-disciplinary teams to investigate allegations of child abuse in a child-friendly environment. The Child Advocacy Center of Niagara also coordinates Niagara County’s Child Fatality Review Team, a multi-disciplinary team dedicated to preventing the deaths of children and promoting safety for all children in Niagara County. To learn more, visit www.cacofniagara.org.Emily Foschio is the education and outreach coordinator, child fatality review team coordinator for the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara.