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Tourney benefits child advocacy and adult rape crisis center

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Organizers for the 3rd Annual Children's Charity Golf Tournament are urging area residents to be a voice for children by becoming involved as a player, hole sponsor or by just making a general donation.

The tournament, which is scheduled on May 7 this year, will take place at Dalhousie, the No. 1 rated golf course in the state.

Tee off times are at 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tournament proceeds will benefit the Southeast Missouri Network Against Sexual Violence, a child advocacy center and adult rape crisis center. The agency provides forensic medical care, counseling and advocacy for victims of physical and sexual abuse. The collection of forensic evidence (documentation of injuries and interviews of victims) is critical in helping law enforcement and prosecutors get child abuse perpetrators off the streets.

Registration for the tournament can be done through the agency's Web site at www.semonasv.org or by calling SEMO-NASV at 573-332-1900.

Tournament registration is $125 and includes tournament play, lunch and a free gift for every player: a Las Vegas quality deck of cards with a picture of every player's team/foursome. The cards are being donated by Gemaco, a Kansas City based company. Gemaco is also donating the 16 table top poker sets, valued at over $225 each, as first place prizes. The 16 second place winners will receive a gourmet food gift basket, valued at just under $100, from Gourmet Gems of Kansas City.

The Cape Girardeau Kiwanis Club, the main sponsor of the tournament, donated $10,000 to the event. Autry Morlan is donating a 2007 Chevy Equinox SUV for a hole-in-one prize. Food and other prizes have been donated by Lamberts and Good Humor in Sikeston, River Eagle Distributing in Cape Girardeau and The Branding Iron in Jackson. Many other businesses, civic clubs and individuals have also provided hole sponsorships.

People in Southeast Missouri need to understand that crimes against children happen right here in this area, according to Tammy Gwaltney, executive director of SEMO-NASV.

Gwaltney noted April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Children live at risk every day and the most dangerous place for some children is their home, she said, as this is where they are abused and mistreated in many cases.

SEMO-NASV opened its doors in 1997 and initially served 42 victims. In 2006, that number rose to almost 600 victims in just the forensic care program alone of which nearly 20 percent were from Scott County. An additional 200 counseling and 400 victims' advocate clients were served this same year. Through the "Green Bear" school-based outreach prevention education program, the agency provided child safety information to over 10,000 children.

A new area of service for the agency the last year was working with federal authorities on Internet crimes against children. With the widespread use of computers by children, predators are online looking for victims to abuse. SEMO-NASV works with the FBI and federal prosecutors to interview the victims of these crimes and bring the offenders to justice.

All services by SEMO-NASV are free and no one is turned away from care.

The agency recently received a $53,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to expand their "Green Bear" prevention education program and to develop community coalitions made up of churches, civic groups, community leaders, schools and the media, among others.

These coalitions will ask adults to be the main line of defense in preventing child abuse through the development of prevention education programs, community training and information events and other programs specific to each community's need.

Will all the recent media attention regarding the St. Louis child abduction case and the more recent Ste. Genevieve case, adults need to get organized and be proactive in the protection of children, Gwaltney said, as children cannot protect themselves.

For more information about SEMO-NASV, the coalition, or other related agencies and services, call Gwaltney at SEMO-NASV.