If you suspect abuse, please call 855-503-7233. For emergencies, dial 911.

Amani Child Abuse Assessment Center for Columbia County

June 2024 Newsletter

From the Director's Desk:​

June is always a busy month at the Amani Center: it is the end of our fiscal year, preparing for mid-year reporting, the start of summer vacation and so much more. Nationally there are many recognition month designations that apply to the work that we do. National PTSD Awareness month, National Men’s Health Awareness Month, National Safety Month, Immigrant Heritage Month and probably most noticeable this month, Pride Month, for the LGBTQ2SIA+ community.

At the Amani Center we are dedicated to serving and supporting every individual with particular attention to supporting individuals who come from historically oppressed or marginalized communities. It may seem that the LGBTQ2SIA+ community has made incredible progress towards equality, but there is still an incredibly long way to go in our rural community and across the globe. We get such a unique view into the lives of individuals and see the difficulties faced by LGBTQ2SIA+ youth and families in our community. We see so many youths who are physically and mentally abused because of identifying as LGBTQ2SIA+, or who are being kicked out of their families. In my time working at the Amani Center, I have seen youth efforts to host pride events canceled due to threats and hate. I have seen families who have had hate speech yelled at them as they walked our streets. We have a long way to go.

It is no wonder why so many of our LGBTQ2SIA+ community remembers remain invisible. We have had LGBTQ2SIA+ individuals in county leadership positions, public service positions, law enforcement, foster parents, prominent business owners and more. Despite working in this community and dedicating my life to public safety and health, I often choose to remain invisible too, for fear that it would change people’s perceptions of me to know. But there are so many times that I wish I could reach out to the youth that we serve and the families in our community and say, I am one of you too. It is not appropriate or my role to do so when youth and families are receiving services at our center. But, for any of you reading: You are not alone, there is community here and people that can help and support you.

Our LGBTQ2SIA+ youth need love, support and acceptance. They need to see visible signs of acceptance and inclusion, and most of all, they need caring adults and parents to show them love.

Thank you,
Amelia Kercher, Amani Center Executive Director

Pictured below are Amelia and her wife Jenn. They will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary this year.

What's New?

This month, we applaud the success of Amani Center Medical Provider Jennifer Reardon as the co-founder of the newly established Columbia Sexual Assault Response Network (CSARN).

A group of local citizens and organizations have come together to form the Columbia Sexual Assault Response Network in order to bring sexual assault response medical exams to Columbia County. On April 29th the Ford Family Foundation notified CSARN co-founder Jennifer Reardon, RN, FNP-BC that their request for funding was approved and they were awarded a $25,000.00 grant.

Along with Janelle Adams, a long time Columbia County Resident and Victim Advocate, Jennifer has worked to help found the CSARN. This group includes a board of directors made up of local service providers, representatives from Law Enforcement and the District Attorney’s office and individuals with lived experience who have come together to ensure that victims of sexual assault in Columbia County are able to receive medical exam and evidence collection services locally.

Currently without the CSARN’s services, if an individual in Columbia County is a victim of sexual assault, the nearest location to receive services are the hospitals in Portland. The Amani Center provides services for child and youth victims, but victims over the age of 18 need to be served by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). Columbia County does not currently have any SANE services and the nearest providers are hospitals in Portland. Receiving services in Portland can mean long waits at emergency rooms surrounded by medically ill individuals, and that is after the long drives to get there. It also puts a strain on our local services and investigators as Law Enforcement and Advocates have to leave the community to get to the hospital.

CSARN aims to change all of that. To provide services in St. Helens in a dedicated, trauma-informed setting with a team of supportive individuals, Sexual Assault Victim Advocates from SAFE of Columbia County and the CSARN team will provide support, medical exam and evidence collection services and help victims apply for services and programs that can help them heal.

If you or anyone you know needs help or assistance, please have them contact SAFE of Columbia County at (503) 397-6161. If you would like to get involved with CSARN’s efforts, you can make a donation to PO BOX 1088 or email Jennifer and Janelle.

June Spotlight:

This June, as we celebrate Pride Month and the vibrant folx of the LGBTQIA+ community, we want to spread the news about an exciting local resource for parents and families in Columbia County: the LGBTQ+ Family Group!

This group meets the third Saturday of every month and rotates the location of each meeting throughout the county. Parents of LGBTQ+ community members and their children are welcome! Childcare and lunch are provided at no cost, and everyone is asked to register for each monthly event through the online form provided here: LBGTQ+ Family Support Group

For further details about this group, please contact Columbia Health Services.

Upcoming Events:

Thursday, July 18th – FREE Teddy Bear Picnic at the Columbia County Fair & Rodeo

The Amani Center is hosting a free Teddy Bear Picnic during the Columbia County Fair & Rodeo for all kids ages 3-10! Register for the picnic at 10:00 a.m. at the Gazebo for a free lunch, craft and activity taking place at the Pavilion Stage at 11:30 a.m. This event is sponsored by Wauna Credit Union.

Saturday, September 14th – Hullabaloo Dinner

The Amani Center’s annual Hullabaloo Dinner is back again this fall at Grabhorn Farm in Scappoose. This special fundraising event offers an evening of delicious food, exceptional entertainment, auctions, raffles and more! Tables are available now for purchase, with a variety of sponsorship options. Visit the Amani Center website to learn more or contact Monica Rush to reserve your table today.