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Parent-Child Center raises $121,000-plus

April 18, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown - Millie Lowman, executive director of the Parent-Child Center in Hagerstown, was hoping to raise $120,000 Saturday during a three-hour telethon.

By the end of the event, more than $121,000 had been raised, and Lowman said she is thrilled.

The money will be used to support the nonprofit center's five programs, which include efforts to prevent child abuse.

"The more we receive, the more we can give," Lowman said.

NBC-25 broadcast the telethon commercial-free from 1 to 4 p.m. from its downtown Hagerstown studio. The station also set up a makeshift studio at Sam's Club, where people dropped cash into a donation box.

Washington County's statistics for child abuse are the second-highest in the state, Lowman said. Last year, 2,400 cases were reported, 1,800 were investigated and more than 400 people were found guilty of related charges.

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"That's just the child abuse that's reported," Lowman said.

Parent-Child Center programs include parenting classes, assistance for pregnant teenagers, helping families deemed to be at-risk for child abuse or where child abuse is already occurring, working with children in the court system and a program called Teen Voices, Teen Choice.

For Teen Voices, Teen Choices, teenage mothers speak to students and other groups about the choices they wish they had made. They tell high school students, for instance, that they might not be able to attend graduation because they cannot find a baby-sitter, or that going out on Friday nights is impossible with an infant at home.

"The stories are pretty compelling," Lowman said. "They just say, 'Why don't you wait until you can financially support a baby?'"

For families in need, clothing, furniture, diapers, formula and other items are available at the center's office at 998 Potomac Ave., in the former United Way headquarters. All of it, along with the center's services, is free.

"If we can help reduce some of the stressors in their life, they're less likely to take it out on their children," Lowman said of at-risk families.

She estimated that hundreds of people were helped last year, and thousands of pieces of clothing were given away.

This is the 16th year for the telethon. Lowman said donations increase every year.

"People in Washington County realize it's a problem and they want to help," she said. "It's an awareness that we want to bring to the community, of the devastating effects of child abuse on everybody, on the whole community."

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