BY BRIAN BESCH
LIVINGSTON -- The fourth annual Childrenz Haven Blue Jean Ball Dinner and Gala packed in a crowd of 306 Thursday night at Buster McNutty's near Livingston.
The fundraising event had the feel of a party to celebrate work that the child advocacy center puts into protecting the children of Polk County. A line outside the door to get in showed the support citizens were happy to give.
Though Executive Director Susie Adams said room for approximately 250 would be made available this year, demand for the occasion pushed attendance to a new high.
A silent auction, live auction and cake auction kept prizes going to winning bids. For the night, Adams estimates around $80,000 will go to toward three therapists, a forensic and backup forensic interviewer, and a family advocate. Grants partially pay for other salaries, but the remainder is made up with fundraising.
Dinners of steak, fish and chicken were followed by desserts that were auctioned during the meal. A total of $13,000 was raised in desserts alone. Singer Laci Kay Booth provided entertainment throughout the night.
Among the big items in the live auction were two helicopter hog hunts sold for a total of $7,000, while a luxury hunt in Mexico went for $10,000.
Award recipients for their dedication to Childrenz Haven went to Marty Drake, Clarke and Linda Evans, Gene and Judi Matthews, and John Saxon.
"The response and generosity from the people of Polk County is overwhelming," Adams said. "It is something that we could not do without them."
Childrenz Haven opened in September of 2009 and provides a child-friendly environment for its child clients and is a member of Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas, a statewide membership association representing all local children's advocacy centers in the Lone Star state. Children are referred to Childrenz Haven by law enforcement officials, CPS investigators and medical professionals.
Childrenz Haven is a neutral entity, making no recommendations in any case. It provides a supportive and nurturing environment, in which a child victim can interact with the necessary agencies.