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Children’s Center child abuse luncheon raises funds for new building

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By Charlotte Underwood

Being a kid shouldn’t hurt. That was the message at Friday’s child abuse luncheon. Instead, love, happiness and laughter should define a child’s life, but unfortunately, child abuse is an all too real factor, which is why the Campbell County Children’s Center is raising funds for a new building.

With only $350,000 left to raise, the children’s center continues to gain momentum towards reaching its goal.

 Local celebrity Ella Nolan was the guest speaker at Friday’s luncheon. Nolan was a recent participant in ABC’s reality television shows The Bachelor. She is now using her position and her past to help educate people about abuse.

“She is such a great representative of Campbell County, we are blessed to have her,” said children’s center board member Jo Anne Myers.

During the luncheon, Nolan told her heart-rending story about the day her mother was shot and killed in downtown LaFollette. That was 27 years ago but it still rings out because not only was it a tragedy it was a result of domestic violence.

Nolan said she feels blessed that God has given her such an incredible story and the strength to retell it in order to help others.

“Being a child that has dealt with tragedy or unnatural circumstances growing up, I know how it feels to be different because of something that is out of your control,” Nolan said, explaining why the cause was so close to her heart.

She said her main goal was to change the stereotype  making it something beautiful.

Prior to the establishment of the children’s center, abused children would have to go to at least eight different locations to be examined, according to board member Shirley Rogers.

Rogers said she felt privileged to serve the children of Campbell County.

The new children’s center will be bigger and more equipped to handle the needs of the area’s children, according to board chair Ed Wheeler. Wheeler said he was appreciative of Nolan’s generosity in helping raise the much needed funds.

“We need the new building badly since Campbell County is the highest in child abuse in Tennessee,” Wheeler said.

It is anticipated that the luncheon raised around $5,000, though the numbers are still being totaled, according to Children’s Center Executive Director Tracie Davis. Two thousand dollars was also raised when a dinner with Nolan was auctioned off  by Paul Provins, of Ayers Realty, at the end of the luncheon. Carol Wheeler and Lynda White are hosting the dinner for up to eight at the Wheeler’s home. Rissa Pryse was the lucky winner who outbid Jeff Hoskins and many others to win the meal.

Nolan left everyone with a piece of advice as the luncheon drew to a close.

“No matter what age you are, if something tragic or out of control happens to, it does not define who you are. It makes you who you are,” Nolan said.

She said she felt that God trusted in her to have this kind of story.  

“It’s up to me to change lives with it,” Nolan said. She pointed out that it wasn’t just up to her to fight, but the responsibility of all.

“As we struggle with the war against child abuse, we battle as a community. As our numbers increase, so does our need for services,” said.

“We all have a story; don’t be ashamed of it. If there are bad things that are happening in your lives, speak up and speak out, because others are going through it too,” Nolan said.