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Child Enrichment named Bank of America’s 2023 Neighborhood Champion

(Featured photo: Maureen McManus speaks about Child Enrichment at the Neighborhood Champion Award ceremony)

A $50,000 grant will go a long way for Child Enrichment.

 “This could not have come at a more perfect time for us,” said Maureen McManus, Child Enrichment’s development director, after the organization was named Bank of America’s 2023 Neighborhood Champion at a ceremony Nov. 2 at the Morris Museum of Art. “We have expanded to meet the community’s needs, and it’s so wonderful for the community to see that and give back to us.”

Child Enrichment operates three programs to assist children and their families who’ve been impacted by child abuse, neglect and sex trafficking.  

Recently, the organization held a ribbon cutting for its building at its Walden Drive location, expanding from a 4,000 square foot building to a 16,000 square foot space.

The three programs include CASA which provides training for community volunteers who advocate on behalf of children in foster care; the Child Advocacy Center which conducts and records forensic interviews that are later used as testimony; and prevention.

McManus said children and families receive free trauma counseling on site. The new facility provides more room for the therapy.

“We had three staff people to an office,” she said. “We have seven therapists in the office. They can go in and do therapy.”

Also, the new building has a second waiting room area.

Some of the children they see have been involved in sex trafficking.According to McManus, Richmond County has the largest number of child sex trafficking cases in the state of Georgia.

“I think part of that is we’re good at identifying it,” she said.

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Some sex trafficking cases are gang-related, and some of the children seen at the center have been arrested.

“A lot of times, kids come in in handcuffs and shackles,” she said.

Prevention is an area that the organization wants to highlight.

“Ultimately, we want to go out of business,” McManus said. “In the past, we’ve come in with intervention. We are really excited about making numbers go down and reaching children and families before they need intervention.”

Since 2004, Bank of America has distributed more than $300 million through its initiative by providing funding and leadership training to nonprofits that are “advancing economic mobility and building up underserved neighborhoods,” according to a news release.

This is the fifth nonprofit in the Augusta area to receive the grant. Organizations must apply, and their applications are reviewed by a panel made up of community leaders, said Ora Parish, president, Bank of America Augusta.

“Nonprofits are vital to solving social challenges, improving communities and promoting economic advancement,” said Parish in the news release.  “Providing these nonprofits with flexible funding and leadership training not only positions these nonprofits for sustainable, long-term success, but demonstrates our commitment to creating real change in the places where we live and work.”

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News and Inspiring: Women of Augusta, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

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