Bonnie Watts, founder of Coffee County Children’s Advocacy Center, is the first recipient of the Melissa Johnson Children’s Champion Award.
Director of Coffee County CAC Joyce Prusak and Ward Johnson presented the award to Watts on Apr. 21, during the Play with a Purpose event of the center.
This award honors the memory of Melissa Johnson and her love of children, said Prusak.
“I am thankful to Mr. Ward Johnson for making this award possible and look forward to presenting it to others in the years to come,” Prusak said. “I can think of no better recipient than Bonnie for this first year.”
Watts, of Tullahoma, and a group of local activists with the Coffee County Church Women United founded the Coffee County CAC in 2004. The center opened officially and began serving children in 2005.
“The Board of Directors of the CAC decided to give this award to Bonnie because of her relentless commitment to getting the center started and her continuous support over the years,” Prusak said. “Bonnie was the driving force behind the group of women who started the planning meetings for the center and was responsible for getting the buy-in of so many community partners. Bonnie recognized a need in our community and found a way to help meet that need. She wanted children who experienced abuse to have a safe place to come. Her efforts made it possible for us to be able to help over 4,500 children so far.”
The Coffee County CAC serves children who have experienced severe abuse. The center provides services, including forensic interviews, family advocacy, therapy and medical exams, at no cost for children and their families. A referral for services must come from one of the center’s investigative partners. The Coffee County CAC is a nonprofit organization and it operates thanks to the help of businesses, organizations and individuals who support the center.
For more information about the center, visit coffeecountycac.org and follow Coffee County Children’s Advocacy Center on social media.
Photo: Bonnie Watts, founder of Coffee County Children’s Advocacy Center