Harold's House opens new building to serve children in Nacogdoches

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A child advocacy center that has specialized in forensic interviews, exams and helping abused children opened a new facility in Nacogdoches this week. Children in need will no longer have to travel to Harold's House in Lufkin for care thanks to money raised this May by the community.

What was once a dream for child advocacy workers finally came to life Thursday.

"It's really an exciting event to come and actually see the donations that our members made, the Fredonia Rotary Club, become physical reality," said Fredonia Rotary Club president Lee Westmoreland. "We helped furnish this room that is going to be a place of safety for the children in our community."

A $1,200 donation will be the reason children in the area no longer have to stay in hotel rooms during emergency situations.

"I think the room is going to be a great resource for this community as well, and I understand it has already been utilized," said Family Crisis Center of East Texas executive director Heather Kartye. "It goes to show there was a need in this community for that. So, I think it's just another great asset and another great thing that Harold's House has brought to this community."

If needed, children will receive medical exams by the sexual assault nurse examiner at the new facility on North East Stallings Drive.

"If we get a call from CPS or law enforcement that a child here needs to be served, we'll be here," said Harold's House Community Education Director Ashley Cook. "We'll come and open up. Our SANE nurse, a child advocacy worker, or forensic interviewer and support staff night or day will come here and open."

Roughly $30,000 was raised from participants and generous donors that attended badges, bags and bingo in Nacogdoches this year.

"All that funding went in and made a big difference in helping open this place," Cook said. "We've already been serving Nacogdoches children but now we can serve them right here in Nacogdoches."

Though the new facility will be open on a needed bases soon it may house full time staff members.

"Future employment opportunities are definitely there," Cook said. "Every summer we have SFA interns that come and work for us in Lufkin, so we're very excited that they can come and be with us here, also."

Cook said this year Harold's House served nearly 500 children at the Lufkin location, which included children from Nacogdoches. The child advocacy center is hopeful as the community response grows, the Nacogdoches facility will be open Monday through Friday.

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