Extraordinary Services for Women, Children Praised
Posted on Monday, July 2nd, 2012
Jean Gordon, Sissy Burge, Sherri Snyder, and Debra Woodbridge at the Love County Community Coalition on July 2, 2012.
Sissy Burge (left foreground) listens as speakers laud her service at the C/SARA Foundation.
The unique and unprecedented contributions of the C/SARA Foundation and its outgoing executive director, Sissy Burge of Marietta, to crisis support for child and adult victims of sexual assault were extolled by members of the Love County Community Coalition at their July luncheon meeting.
Burge started a new job as billing supervisor of the water department of the City of Ardmore lastweek.
Members who work closely with service providers at C/SARA outlined accomplishments during Burge’s 12 years with C/SARA, the last seven as executive.
- Jean Gordon, administrator of the Love County Multidisciplinary Team, comprised of law enforcement and child welfare workers, which jointly investigates child sexual assault cases.
- Sherri Snyder, executive director, Children’s Advocacy Centers of Oklahoma.
- Debra Woodbridge, executive director, Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.
- Yolanda Gay, Love County victim advocate for the Family Shelter, who sent in written remarks, read by Woodbridge.
C/SARA Foundation is the provider of medical exams for child and, by agreement of hospitals in Love, Carter, Marshall, Johnston, and Murray counties, adult victims of rape or sexual assault.
They aid an average of 200 children and 40 women each year, Burge said.
The comfortable homelike setting at 814 16 NW offers comprehensive crisis support.
Victims receive medical evaluations by adult and pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners.
They are interviewed by certified “forensic” interviewers.
Adults are introduced to victim advocates from the Family Shelter who will provide continuing services, such as a safety plan, and legal information, such as about a protective order, or the filing of charges.
Under Federal law, rape victims are entitled to free medical evaluations without contacting police or emergency room.
They may self-refer to C/SARA Foundation at 226-7283 (daytime) or via the Family Shelter’s 24-hour hotline at 226-6424.
Police or child welfare workers are the people who refer children who have been sexually assaulted to C/SARA.
That is because all adults, whatever their relationship to the child, are required by law to report rape, incest, or suspected sexual or physical abuse of any person under age 18 to law enforcement or the child abuse hotline at 1-800-522-3511.
In the case of children, while the forensic interview is taking place, the Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) of law enforcement and child welfare workers follows along from another room out of sight or hearing of the child.
They are able to communicate their questions discreetly to the interviewer so that the child will not be subject to future interviews.
By sharing information and cooperating from the outset, team members increase the likelihood of bringing healing to the child and non-offending family members, and accountability to the perpetrator.
Law enforcement on MDTs is specially trained at interviewing suspected perpetrators of crimes against children.
Officers are resolving many more cases through admissions of guilt in the face of compelling forensic evidence than ever was possible before C/SARA Foundation came along.
Services for children began in 2002.
Under Burge’s guidance, the center became accredited by the National Children’s Alliance.
She oversaw the introduction of adult services five years later.
Burge said that 2,200 children had come through the doors during her tenure.
Oklahoma Chapter of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates and Practitioners has honored her as “Advocate of the Year.”
She is past-president of the Oklahoma Association of Children’s Advocacy Centers.
She chartered the MDTs in Marshall, Murray, and Johnston Counties.
C/SARA Foundation, she said, “is part of my genetics and will always be near and dear to my heart.”
She praised the Board of Directors for trusting her and allowing her to follow her vision to help grow C/SARA into the organization it is today.
C/SARA Foundation, or “Crisis/Support and Resource Association,” began in 1991.
It is a non-profit organization established by Dr. Harry and Lynda Galoob of Ardmore.
The center is known as “Sara’s House,” in memory of Sara Galoob, a beloved daughter.
All of its services for women and children have been groundbreaking in the history of treatment of rape victims.
A dozen similar centers exist elsewhere in Oklahoma, but the Galoobs have given Southern Oklahoma a state-of-the-art approach in what they call, “the place where healing begins.”
Burge expressed her appreciation to all who had supported fundraising drives for the C/SARA Foundation or become affiliated with its services during her time there.
“It makes me proud to have been a part of the development and implementation of such programs that make such a difference in the lives of children and families,” she said.
Burge is a 1990 graduate of Turner High School. She and her husband, Billy, have two children.
Portable Plant: Sissy Burge accepted a plant for her next desktop from the Love County Community Coalition, which honored her for her contributions while executive director of the C/SARA Foundation.