Home Features Kalin’s Center to Host ‘Boots and Bling Ball’ Fundraiser

Kalin’s Center to Host ‘Boots and Bling Ball’ Fundraiser

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By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – Kalin’s Center will be holding their “Boots and Bling” fundraiser Saturday, Sept. 10 at the Crockett Civic Center. The fundraiser will include a steak dinner, live auctions and plenty of music.

Kalin’s Center is a non-profit center dedicated to helping abused children in Houston and Trinity counties. Founded in 2001, the center provides a safe and child-friendly environment for abused children up to the age of 18 to tell their story. There are 71 similar facilities throughout Texas. 

Kalin’s Center’s Executive Director Angela Cross took time to give the Messenger a tour and an interview about the center’s mission. 

The purpose of the center is to make children feel safe so they will tell their stories. Once upon a time, children would speak with a law enforcement official. As caring and understanding as they might have been, a badge, uniform and gun could intimidate some children. Kalin’s Center has created an atmosphere specifically to make the children feel comfortable. 

Upon a first visit of the facility, one can be proud that something like this exists in Crockett. It is clean, modern and has been constructed for its purpose. There is a large room with dolls and toys where the children will tell their stories directly to the center’s employees – the family waits outside. 

Kalin’s Center’s Executive Director Angela Cross

“A child comes with a protective relative,” Cross explained. “We do a forensic interview. The only people in the room are the interviewer and the child. Relatives wait in the family room. We make them aware that we have cameras in the interview. We hide nothing from them.”

The proceedings are recorded, and there is a room where law enforcement can watch live. In case it is needed, there is an interrogation room for law enforcement to ask adults more difficult questions on the spot. 

Down the hall, there is a medical examination room. Further down, bunk beds adorn the wall of a cute children’s bedroom – complete with bathroom and shower. 

It is truly something to be proud of – until one thinks about the purpose it was built to serve. The stories that have been told in those rooms. The children that must sleep in the center’s gorgeous bedroom while they wait for Child Protective Services (CPS) to find a more permanent living solution for the child. 

The very need for such a facility like this is enough to break one’s heart. 

Cross grew up in Center, Texas, before graduating from Sam Houston State University with a degree in Criminology and Corrections. After graduation, she moved to Crockett and worked as the Chief Juvenile Probation Officer for 33 years. Cross served on the center’s board for many years before becoming the Executive Director in 2017. 

Cross says working with children can take its toll on her, personally. 

“It’s hard, but you can’t internalize it. You can empathize. You tell yourself, ‘While that child is here, we are going to do everything in the world to help them. If they make it here to us – more than likely – they will never have to experience anything like that again.”

“I have gone home crying at night. We sometimes see kids being taken away from their parents. And all they want to do is go home. That’s tough. But we have to do what’s in the best interest of the child.”

The good the center does – in Cross’ mind – far outweighs the tough days she experiences working there. 

“When I worked in probation, I didn’t think I made any difference whatsoever,” Cross explained. “Because some kids just keep getting into trouble. Sometimes it’s over generations. But sometimes at a grocery store, someone will come up to you – and I don’t always remember them. They say, ‘You saved my life.  I want to thank you.’ So every once in a while you do make a difference.”

The “Boots and Bling” Ball will raise money for the center to continue to support the children they help. There are special rates and bonuses for buying an entire table. However, individual tickets are on sale for $50 each. 

The center has received many donated gifts that will be auctioned off at the ball. They still need donations of gifts and ticket sales. 

For more information about the Boots and Bling Ball, please contact Kalin’s Center at 936-545-9455. You can also visit their website, www.kalinscenter.org

Greg Ritchie can be reached at greg@messenger-news.com

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