Powerhouse event fuels Blue Sky Bridge
Although it’s hard to contemplate, serious child abuse does exist in Boulder County.
The good people of Blue Sky Bridge face this reality daily, and are widely known for their effectiveness in helping to heal and prevent it.
This weekend, Blue Sky Bridge supporters gather for a major fundraising event: A Moveable Feast. In its 16th year, this progressive dinner party combines beautiful homes, great food and drink, and a serious message: this work merits significant and sustained financial support.
“In an average year we serve 250 – 300 children and their care givers,” says Nia Wassink, Development Director for Blue Sky Bridge, an independent non-profit established in 1995 that works closely with law enforcement and social service agencies. “About 90% of our cases involve sexual abuse. We also serve victims of physical abuse and neglect, as well as children who have witnessed violence. Essentially, we are here to serve any child who is the victim of a crime.”
Programming focuses on two fronts: intervening in abuse that is already occurring, and reaching out to stop abuse before it starts.
In abuse cases, Blue Sky Bridge provides highly trained staff to perform research-compliant forensic interviews that help build the foundation of criminal case investigations, and the subsequent prosecution of abuse offenders.
“Blue Sky Bridge is a vital partner to law enforcement agencies in the protection of children and the prosecution of child sexual assault offenders,” says Boulder County prosecutor Katharina Booth, the chief trial deputy for the district attorney’s sex assault/domestic violence unit.
“They are experts in providing a friendly environment for child victims that helps lessen the trauma of the interview process, and employing proper non-leading questioning styles that are essential for their later introduction into court,” she says.
In addition, Booth says that Blue Sky Bridge offers crisis intervention services to children and their family members during “this incredibly difficult time, and during the often lengthy and difficult criminal justice process.”
In terms of prevention and outreach, Blue Sky Bridge provides proactive education programs through local elementary schools and other community partners, to help deter and prevent future crimes against children.
These efforts require funding, and this weekend’s Moveable Feast fundraiser is a major source.
“Moveable Feast funds about 20% of our operating budget,” explains Wassink. “It is also spreads the word on our work. And once people understand our impact, their support tends to increase on a steep curve.”
Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett will speak about the organization’s impact at the event, which hosts about 200 supporters – first at a central appetizer party, and later at dinner parties in homes throughout the County.
“We’ve expanded the event from homes in the heart of Boulder to include homes in surrounding communities,” explains event co-chair Nanette Schunk. “We serve children in all of these places but our funding base has largely been in Boulder. We are working to build a wider base of friendships and funding relationships.”
A Moveable Feast has become a powerhouse event, raising considerable funds and awareness in one night for this critical, independent organization. But how does one impart a high level of understanding on such a difficult subject during a glistening dinner party?
“We’ve asked our hosts to make a really strong pitch for what our work is, and how people can support us at a high level,” Wassink says. “Our crisis case loads are higher than ever.”