Childhelp River Bridge Advocacy Center hosts fundraising ball at Hotel Colorado |

Childhelp River Bridge Advocacy Center hosts fundraising ball at Hotel Colorado

April E. ClarkPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

In April 1975, Operation Babylift saved more than 2,000 orphaned infants and children from war-ravaged South Vietnam.Joyce Bulifant, a Hollywood actress now residing in Carbondale, took part in the mass adoption airlift with colleagues Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson. They were told one volunteer was needed for every baby.”I remember the 24-hour shift to call for volunteers. We prayed all the way there we’d have enough volunteers for babies,” Bulifant said. “Sara, Yvonne and I were the first ones to board the plane and when we walked on, every seat had cardboard boxes with babies in them. There were hundreds of us with these little babies.”More than 30 years later, the three women remain focused on helping children.

In 1959, O’Meara and Fedderson founded a nonprofit organization now called Childhelp, dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect. For their tireless efforts, the pair was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.”Twenty-four hours a day these ladies are Childhelp, helping the children,” Bulifant said.Bulifant shares their compassion.She serves as Childhelp National Board of Directors vice president. And for the last five years, she has been instrumental in opening the Childhelp River Bridge Advocacy Center in Glenwood Springs, dedicated with a ribbon-cutting in July.”It’s so important for the national organization to be involved,” she said. “They’re the glue that holds the public and private (entities) together.”

The center, located next to Valley View Hospital, allows law enforcement and social service agencies to interview and aid child abuse victims in a child-friendly setting.”That seemed to be the number-one hole children were falling through. It happens it isn’t what you want to look at,” Bulifant said Tuesday at a press luncheon sponsored by the Hotel Colorado. “We are so in denial about many things, but what we’re in most denial about is the abuse that happens to children. It crosses every boundary. … It’s the saddest thing because the children are so defenseless.”River Bridge will begin assisting with child abuse cases pending the arrival of medical and forensic equipment in September. Since opening this summer, the center has been home to forensic interviewing training for local agencies. The center will offer ongoing mental-health training for educators, healthcare professionals and law enforcement.”The local existing agencies have been doing a wonderful job for years and years,” said Melissa English, Childhelp River Bridge Founding Board president. “(The center), it is a new concept.”

To raise funds and awareness of child abuse in the community, Bulifant and the center’s staff and task force host a fundraising ball at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, at the Hotel Colorado. Tickets can be reserved by calling the center at 945-5195.At $150 per ticket, the dinner-dance and silent auction also honors Alpine Bank chairman Bob Young, a Childhelp River Bridge Advocacy Center advisory board member.”We’re making this ball really special because we’re honoring him,” Bulifant said. “All of the money we raise here stays here to help this center. It’s there to use for the children.”Contact April Clark: 945-8515, ext. 16601aclark@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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