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Child abuse in our community should be everyone’s concern.  The Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of East Hawaii (FCJC- EH) is honoring three individuals who have done something about it.  On April 29 at The Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, the Friends will recognize these hard working people in a Gala Dinner Event called, appropriately, “Justice for Children.”

Retired Judge Ben H. Gaddis is being honored at the Gala for his contributions as Family Court Judge for the Third Circuit, where he oversaw child abuse and neglect protective services, family related temporary restraining orders and juvenile offender cases.  He was a strong supporter of a coordinated multi-discipline system response for abuse, neglect, domestic violence and divorce cases.  Because he was able to see the big picture in a Child Protective Services or Domestic Violence case, he would call in other agencies to intervene and provide assistance to the child or family.  Judge Gaddis truly cared about children and their families.  The “best interest of the child” was always in focus and observable in his actions and rulings.

Dr. Christopher “Kit” Barthel, III is another individual whose work  made a significant impact on children who were abused and/or neglected.   With his expertise and background in psychology and therapy, Dr. Barthel became a  State-wide trainer and consultant for the Children’s Justice Centers.  When they opened in the late 1980’s, these Centers provided a new way for reports of child sexual abuse to be handled; requiring police officers, social workers, prosecutors, therapists, educators and attorneys to work together in the best interests of the child. Dr. Barthel’s talent as a skilled teacher along with his adept use of humor enabled frontline professionals to enhance their understanding of the effects of sexual abuse on children.

Gail Madie, the Friends super volunteer,  keeps the detailed program accounting for the two largest grants  the center receives to help abused and neglected children.  Gail used her computer expertise to create the database that has made a significant difference in the amount of time spent trying to track each child’s expenses.  Because of her dedication, any report related to any expenditure for any child made in the past 6 years is available at a moment’s notice. From “A” for “age” to “Z” for zip code, all information can now be compiled and made available for grant writing, grant reporting and budgeting.

Tickets for The Gala Dinner Celebration begin at $65 and tables and other levels of sponsorship are available on the Friends’ website,  “Please consider attending our Gala Celebration,” said Jay Kimura, current Friends’ Board President. “Not only does this dinner event honor three important individuals who care about Child Abuse in our community, the proceeds from the dinner will help identified abused children.  Our Board’s slogan, ‘Help a victim be a child again’ isn’t just words, it’s a promise that the Friends continue to support,” concluded Kimura.

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