Season of Wishes: Natchez Children’s Services advocates for area children

Published 9:58 pm Monday, December 10, 2018


NATCHEZ — Natchez Children’s Services, Children’s Advocacy Center works with children ages 2 through 18 who are witnesses to or victims of crimes in Adams, Claiborne, Franklin, Jefferson and Wilkinson counties.

The organization provides certified counselors to approximately 130 children per year in the region who are somehow involved in criminal investigations, with Child Protective Services or other law enforcement agencies, said Cherish McCallum, executive director.

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Counselors work with the children and their families as they undergo interviews with law enforcement and court officials throughout the course of cases in which the children are involved.

“We have three certified trauma-focused counselors, who go to court with families and advocate for the families throughout the process,” McCallum said.

Natchez Children’s Services is a non-profit organization, funded only through donations and grants, most of which require matching funds, McCallum said.

Up until approximately 2009, the organization was known as the Natchez Children’s Home and housed children at the facility. Since, then, however, the mission has changed, McCallum said, to provide services to help children, who are involved in law enforcement cases as victims or as witnesses and the organization supports the children and their families throughout the interviewing and court processes.

Children’s service and advocacy center has an ongoing need for funding to help meet the need, McCallum said.

“If people can think about us at the holidays,” McCallum said, “we are grateful for what we get. … Cash donations are just really an incredible gift. It allows us to apply that money toward matching grants and allows us to apply for grants that require a matching donation.”

Although monetary donations are most needed and beneficial to Natchez Children’s Services, McCallum said other donations are appreciated as well.

“Every child that comes to us for a forensic issue,” McCallum said, “they go home with an art project, a book, a stuffed animal, art supplies, something to do that is positive after having to come talk about a negative experience. Anytime children come to talk to us … they go home with something positive.”

Donations of stuffed animals and games are welcome, too, McCallum said.

“Every donation is appreciated,” McCallum said. “Like the widow’s mite story in the Bible, any contribution is welcomed and rejoiced.”

Since Natchez Children’s Services and Children’s Advocacy Center is a non-profit organization, donations are tax-deductible, McCallum said.

Donations, McCallum said, may be made by mailing them to Natchez Children’s Services, Children’s Advocacy Center, P.O. Box 2028, Natchez, MS 39121.

McCallum said donations also may be made in person, but she advises people to call 601-442-6858 first to arrange an appointment due to the confidential nature of the center’s work.