News From The Amani Center

September 2020

Fall Quarterly Update

Staffing Changes

Have you ever heard the term “sad-mad”? If you have kids or have enjoyed the movie “Home”, this term will likely sound familiar to you. At the Amani Center, we have recently experienced a similar concept of mixed feelings & emotions we’ll call “sad-glad”.

For nearly 5 years, a smart, caring, competent and humble individual has been an integral part of our small but mighty team. Nick Schwarz provided years of experienced and dedicated service in the areas of Intake Coordination, Family Support Services and Forensic Interviewing, finishing off his time with the Amani Center as our Lead Forensic Interviewer. Just shy of his 5-year anniversary, Nick has recently departed the Amani Center to complete his EdS degree through a School Psychologist internship at a High School in Tempe, Arizona. His calm character, warm demeanor and patient attention toward our clients and his easygoing and jovial nature will be missed greatly. While we are deeply sad to see him go, we couldn’t be more thrilled for Nick’s future and for the students he will serve! When you watch future Timbers soccer or Blazers basketball games, remember our dear colleague Nick and toast to his future successes (and that his teams win too!).

Remember though, we mentioned that this mixed feeling of emotion has an element of “glad” in it as well, and it is our pleasure to RE-introduce you to a past Amani Center employee. Brandy Hayes (formerly Rountree) who has rejoined the Amani Center team to take on the duties of Intake Coordination and Family Support Services Specialist, as Ellen Sperl moves into the Lead Forensic Interviewer position. Brandy was with the Amani Center from Oct. 2015-June 2016 before moving out of state. She has returned to Oregon, after several years of working with Child and Family Services in the state of Montana. Brandy grew up in Southern Oregon and is now living in Portland. She studied social work at the University of Alaska and has attended multiple trainings on forensic interviewing, child welfare and domestic violence. Brandy is bi-lingual in English and Spanish and has experience in nursing, as well. She enjoys spending time with her daughter, husband and of course, their pets. Brandy is excited to be back working in Columbia County and continuing to be active in community outreach and support. And she’s super stoked to be back in a state that has Chick-Fil-A! Please help us welcome Brandy back to the team!

One last exciting (upcoming) change to our direct service team…we are in the final recruitment stages of bringing on a FULL-TIME medical provider to offer specialized child abuse pediatric medical forensic evaluations 5 DAYS A WEEK! This is a HUGE development for our organization, as we have never had a medical provider available every day of the week. This allows our community partners more accessibility and a quicker response time in scheduling children at our clinic. We will be able to address nearly EVERY Karly’s Law case that is referred to us (the law mandates that children in Oregon who exhibit suspicious physical injuries in the course of a child abuse investigation must receive medical attention within 48 hours). Additionally, we will have a medical provider who is able to interact on a regular basis with our community, our MDT partners and the investigative process. Funding for this position was secured by combining Child Abuse Multidisciplinary Intervention and Department of Justice grantsfunds, as well as utilizing unrestricted funds from fundraising sources. If you have questions about the changes in our direct service staff, please reach out to Program Manager, Amelia Kercher, with any questions.

Responding to COVID-19

This is a new world we live in that still needs to function and address the challenges that existed before COVID-19. The National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention reports that 1,700 children in the US die of abuse or neglect and the National Children’s Alliance reports 700,000 children are victims of abuse every year. Our internal numbers suggest that child abuse is not decreasing , however, the children we are seeing are coming in at later stages of the intervention process than before COVID-19 when they had more eyes, ears and mandatory reporters available and watching out for them. As we enter into an extended period of possible isolation for children, please be vigilant in your observations of our community’s children. If you notice an indicator of abuse or neglect, even if it’s just a suspicion, report it to the statewide Child Abuse Hotline: 1-855-503-SAFE (7233)

Case workers and investigators are trained to recognize the presence of abuse and neglect but they need your help in referring questionable conditions regarding children’s safety. For additional resources in recognizing abuse and neglect, visit the Oregon Child Abuse Solutions website at To learn how to support victims of child abuse in Columbia County visit the Amani Center website at or our Facebook page at

We are thankful to our community supporters who have stepped up to assist in new and creative ways, however the need is great and we must remain vigilant. We MUST continue addressing the public health crisis of Child Abuse.

Countywide services mean community wide recognition

We were honored in August to be named the Rainier Chamber Member of the Month. The Chamber shared with us that we were selected by the Chamber board because of our “role in meeting children’s needs across Columbia County during this pandemic which has presented increased challenges for our nonprofits, as well as our businesses.” Additional factors in the decision included being an active member in the Rainier Chamber of Commerce and working hard to build relationships with members, as well as other nonprofits, in our county. Our staff members are passionate, dedicated and committed to serving all children throughout Columbia County through trauma-informed best practices, fiscal responsibility and collaborative efforts with our community partners. That is at the core of our agency and we are proud, yet humbled, to receive this recognition from our business and nonprofit colleagues. We pledge to uphold the criteria with upon which we were chosen by continuing to work with countywide agencies, nonprofits, businesses and all community partners for the safety of our community’s children and the betterment of our county as a whole  Thank you Rainier Chamber for this recognition.

Updates regarding Events & Fundraising

As you know, in-person events are a challenge, at best, right now. To comply with Oregon Governor’s Office mandates and to keep our community safe, we have suspended all in-person fundraising at this time. This includes our previously scheduled “Epic Voyage to Greece” aboard the Portland Spirit, that was planned for September 2020, which has been moved to September 2021. Although this will impact our organization greatly in the way we secure funding to support our agency, we know that this is the best decision on behalf of our clients, staff and community partners. If you’re looking for an agency to partner with on outside-of-the-box marketing & fundraising ideas, please contact our Development Coordinator, Beth Pulito, via email,, to discuss ideas and options that promote your business and support our mission. We love to create partnerships that are a win-win-win for our entire community!

June 2020

Amani Center Expansion Project

Amid school and business closures, reduced operations across a wide variety of services, and physical distancing measures taken by the state, we MUST still continue addressing the public health crisis of Child Abuse. The National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention reports that 1,700 children in the US die of abuse or neglect and the National Children’s Alliance reports 700,000 children are victims of abuse every year. Amani Center staff continue to work safely and diligently, providing services to children in Columbia County. Amani Center expansion plans are even more critical to provide space for families and children receiving services because of the great need but also because of physical distancing efforts. The plan also addresses increased work areas for staff to work effectively and efficiently and added security to keep alleged victims safe, both physically and virtually.
Expansion Goals

Reduce Trauma

  • Create additional trauma informed spaces


  • Increase safety for clients, staff and records


  • Make the building accessible and ADA compliant


  • Ensure staff have appropriate work spaces to meet clients needs


  • Ensure the space complies with HIPAA rules and increases client privacy

Learn more about the 5 areas of focus directing our expansion plans on our website HERE

Past Newsletters

Amani Center 2019 Winter Newsletter

Amani Center 2019 Spring Newsletter

Amani Center 2018 Winter Newsletter

Amani Center 2017 Winter Newsletter

Amani Center 2017 Spring Newsletter

Amani Center 2016 Winter Newsletter

Amani Center 2016 Spring Newsletter

Amani Center 2015 Winter Newsletter 

Amani Center 2015 Spring Newsletter

Amani Center 2014 Winter Newsletter