I cherish in my heart my fond memories of the Children's Treatment Centre - the most kind, compassionate and caring people I've ever worked with - and countless others who've responded with kindness, generosity and great humanity.
In January 1996, I was approached by Angelo Towndale to take the lead role in starting an agency to provide counselling to victims of child abuse. That agency was to rely on community support alone, with no government funding.
Though I was presented with a detailed plan on how to achieve that goal, it would be an understatement to say I was apprehensive and not completely convinced it could be done. But I accepted the challenge and brought together nine very caring, community-minded citizens to form the first Board of Directors, of which I was elected the first President: Ray Jodoin (Vice-President), Jeanette Despatie (Treasurer), Ken Sliter (Secretary), Joellene Adams, Michel Bourdeau, Pierre Guindon, Sr. Pauline Rhéaume, Robert Smith and Bernard (Bunny) Warner.
As Board members, our first task was to come up with an action plan to raise enough funds to operate the Centre for a year. The first organization we appealed to was the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, which responded with a commitment of $20,000.00 a year for six years.
That was the first sign our goal was achievable. It gave us much needed confidence, and other organizations and individuals soon came aboard. Among them, the Rotary Club of Cornwall committed $5,000.00 a year for three years. We also got major donations from Levi Strauss, the Celebrity Golf Classic, the Glen Walter Chamber of Commerce, Knights of Columbus Councils, Catholic Women's Leagues and St. John's Presbyterian Women of the Church. Two priests from the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall made substantial donations, and the Children's Aid Society donated half the proceeds from its annual Bike-A-Thon fundraising event.
From the beginning, the Standard-Freeholder played a major role with promotional articles, editorials and pictures of cheque presentations almost every week. The newspaper-in partnership with radio stations CJSS and CFLG, now known as Corus Entertainment, and TVCogeco - also started Sponsor of the Day. Other fundraising initiatives included the sale of Nevada tickets, a talent night, and a Dinner and Roast.
By May 1996, the Board felt confident enough to start hiring staff. The Children's Aid Society generously agreed to our request that Robert Smith be seconded, half-time, to serve as our Program Supervisor. The Board also hired Michelle Hamelin-Purcell as a full-time counsellor, Bernadine McEvoy-Robertson as a part-time Secretary-Receptionist, and appointed Angelo Towndale as the Project Coordinator. Miss Gen Kennedy was our first volunteer receptionist and driver.
On Monday, June 17, 1996, the Children's Treatment Centre was officially opened, filling a gap in childrens mental health services by giving abused children hope and healing. In a powerful way, the Centre continues to help children dream again of a brighter tomorrow, and realize their full potential.
On behalf of the Centre's founding members, I thank our donors, supporters and volunteers for sharing our dream, and for the wholehearted endorsement you gave twenty years ago today to make the Children's Treatment Centre a reality. I thank you all for your continued support.
I wish to thank and congratulate Jim Dilamarter, and the other founding members of the Children's Treatment Centre for their foresight and vision in starting a much-needed haven for child abuse victims.
It was a challenging task, but the founding members were highly successful in rallying community support to start the Centre within just five months. Their initiative has made an incredible difference in the lives of 2,390 children the Centre has served. Those children are a living legacy to the compassion and generosity of the original Board and countless donors, supporters, and volunteers.
Today, I'm joined on the Board of Directors by Madam Justice Johanne Lafrance- Cardinal, Vice-President; Claude Doth, Treasurer; Manon Tailleur, Secretary; Roland Bissonnette, Andy Graham, Rachelle Lamond, Peter Padbury, Vince Robinson and Lyle Van Allen.
When the Centre was started in 1996, it had only one program: counselling for abused children and non-offending parents. But at the request of community agencies and schools, we've since introduced two other services: treatment of youth aged 12 to 17 who've committed sexual offences against children; and treatment for children aged 5 to 11 who are sexually reactive and aggressive toward children their own age.
Until 2014, the Centre had an average of 120 referrals a year. In 2015 the total number of referrals increased to 172. The increase in the number of referrals we experienced in 2015 has continued in the first five months of this year.
In order to ensure that the children did not have to wait for service, the Board of Directors added a third therapist last August. The fact the Centre is community funded has allowed us the flexibility to act quickly to meet the increase demand for service.
From the very beginning, the Centre has received amazing support from individual donors, businesses, and organizations. A case in point is the Celebrity Walk and Breakfast, our largest fundraising event started by the Standard-Freeholder with Jake Lamoureux as its first Chair followed by Milton Ellis as Chair and Sean Adams as Honourary Chair. They raised this event to a new level and made it what it is today.
But let there be no doubt about it, the heart and soul of the Children's Treatment Centre is our Clinical Team led by Robert Smith, Executive Director; Nathalie Lamarche, Senior Therapist; Dr. Beth Pollock, Clinical Psychologist; Sandra Butler, Therapist; Robine Sa-bourin, Administrative Assistant; and Angelo Towndale, Project Coordinator.
Our clinical staff is assisted by a group of very committed and dedicated volunteers who provide reception and clerical duties, and drive children to counselling sessions at the Centre.
We're also indebted to former members of our Clinical Team: Dr. Geoff Langford, Clinical Psychologist; Cheryl Langford, Psycho-Educational Consultant and Dr. Carole Lapointe, Child Psychiatrist for the psychological and psychiatric assessments and consultations they provided to the Team.
I'm sure all our supporters are pleased and proud of the service the Centre has provided to children and their families for the past twenty years. But we know our work is not done, and we hope that you will all be with us in the journey ahead.