By Jessica Walker
The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) of SWFL hosted its 40th Anniversary event on Saturday December 4, 2021 to celebrate this significant milestone. Thanks to sponsorships and auction items, the agency raised over $100,000 that will provide continual support of the services necessary to assist children in healing from abuse and neglect. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office contribution to this event was a significant donation of $25,000 as part of the overall total.
The evening keynote speaker, Sasha Joseph Neulinger, is the director of the Emmy nominated documentary “REWIND,” a candid and personal documentary where Neulinger revisits his childhood and the events that tore apart his seemingly perfect world. Sasha now travels the world, sharing his story and providing a voice for children that deserve access to justice and healing. “A therapeutic masterwork” (rodgerebert.com), “Rewind, rises above the familiar to the realm of genuinely inspirational” (Wall Street Journal). “It’s a saga about perseverance and bravery, two qualities that Neulinger—then, and now— exhibits in spades” (Esquire).
“We could not have asked for a better evening to celebrate our 40th Anniversary,” said Julie Boudreaux, CAC Chief Executive Officer. “The support of our community, before and during the event, was astounding and warms my heart to see the love and generosity of so many in SWFL making a difference in the lives of children dealing with trauma. We work so closely with law enforcement and to have Sheriff Marceno and Retired Sheriff Scott as our co-chairs was truly an honor. Sasha’s story of his own experience of surviving multi-generational sexual abuse was shared with our guests and his presentation was extremely impactful.”
Neulinger says, “If provided with the proper support, we can give children the opportunity to recognize that their lives don’t have to be defined by their trauma. With the support of Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida, these children can find immense strength, self-awareness, and confidence from confronting their trauma head-on. If these children have the courage to speak up, then as the adults, we must have the courage not only to listen, but to do everything in our power to support them. This event provided serious momentum in that effort.”
Since 1981, The Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida, Inc. (CAC), a United Way partner agency, has worked to improve the lives of children and their families through a coordinated response to child abuse and neglect, offering them a safe and friendly environment in which to heal. The CAC provides abuse determination services as well as therapeutic counseling, parenting education, Beesley’s Paw Prints pet therapy program, and prevention programs in Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Charlotte Counties. All services are provided free of charge. For more information, please call (239) 939-2808 or visit www.cac-swfl.org.