Butterflies raise funds for NMCAC
OSCODA COUNTY — Those colorful butterflies pasted on the walls of 31 local businesses are more than just a decoration. Each represents a donation to the Northern Michigan Children’s Assessment Center as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Executive Director Becky Yuncker said the Butterfly Effect fundraiser works to raise both funds and awareness about abuse in the community.
“We just want to bring awareness to the community that there are kids that are being abused and neglected,” she said. “We also use this as a fundraising event to support the services we provide to kids.”
This will mark the third year NMCAC has collected donations in the region using the butterflies, though it encourages any kind of monetary donation. Last year Roscommon County ranked the highest in donations with $1,784. Oscoda was in second with $1,083, but was in first in 2015 with $1,248.
“It’s a simple way to help make a difference,” Yuncker said.
The center works with law enforcement and Children’s protective Services to investigate cases of abuse and neglect. This is primarily done by providing a more child-friendly environment for victims to recount their stories.
The center also offers medical examinations for children and family members. In January the NMCAC was able to also hire a full-time therapist, Jessie Thompson.
“That was really exciting,” Yuncker said. “That we’re now able to offer the full range of services.”
Prior to this, the center could provide a medical exam and interview, but would need to refer a person to other places for counseling services, according to Yuncker. By filling the position, the center became able to provide more complete care.
“Our goal is to provide all the services that a family might need under one roof,” Yuncker said.
Since it opened in 2014, the Roscommon-based center provided assistance to children who have been abused or neglected in Crawford, Roscommon, Oscoda and Ogemaw counties. All of these services are free for the families who participate.
The center is accredited by the National Children’s Alliance chapter in Michigan and receives funds from the board of commissioners in all the counties it serves. Fundraisers like the Butterfly Effect account for a sizable portion of the center’s funding, according to Yuncker.
“Our funding has started to become more stable for us to provide services, but we still have to raise about 30 percent of our budget from fundraising or donations, just the community support,” she said previously.
Yuncker said in past years the Sunrise Convenience Store in Mio has done well in butterfly sales. She said the Mio Family Pharmacy in particular has stood out this year.
“They’ve called twice to get more butterflies delivered,” she said.
Since staffing is less of an issue currently, Yuncker said she hopes the center will start to offer more counseling groups for kids and parents, such as support and therapy groups. NMCAC already offers programs for teachers at the schools in the communities it serves. She also wants to work with county officials to do more community outreach.
“My focus is really a community approach,” Yuncker said. “We as a community need to be aware of the issue and acknowledge that kids are being abused and neglected.”
She said this starts with adults, since it can often be difficult for children to express what is happening to them.
“We as adults need to step up and keep our children safe,” she said.
Since May 2014 NMCAC has had 58 cases of neglect or abuse in Oscoda County, according to data provided by the center. In these cases, 13 alleged offenders were charged.
“If you have concerns that a child is being abused or neglected, please report that so it can be investigated,” Yuncker said.
Those interested in more information or in need of help can contact NMCAC at 989-275-7145.