The tax-exempt status is retroactive to February 2012 when the filing first took place, so anyone who has donated to the center since that time can claim the money donated on their taxes.
Lila Sears, director of the center, said this final determination will help the center in several ways.
“We can begin applying for grants, and we can seek help from foundations and individuals who will donate more readily to an actual, verified 501(c)(3),” Sears said. “It also makes corporate donors more willing to give to the center.”
Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair, who has been the driving force for the advocacy center since the beginning, said he was just glad to have the process completed.
“We knew it was just a matter of time, but we’re glad to get this done,” Adair said.
The center opened for business in August on Alabama Avenue in Jasper. Centers like this one focus on conducting forensic interviews with children. The children, who have been victims of abuse or sexual abuse or have witnessed a violent crime, are interviewed by a highly-trained interviewer.
These interviews are carefully tailored to collect information from the children without further traumatizing them, while still preserving the integrity of the testimony.
In the state of Alabama, these interviews can be played in court for very young children who are frightened on the witness stand or are too traumatized to face their attacker.
The center is also currently raising money by selling shirts emblazoned with the center’s logo, which was chosen from designs submitted by local school children. The center has golf shirts for $40, adult T-shirts for $12 and children’s T-shirts for $10.
To purchase a shirt, contact Sears at (205) 387-8324 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.