By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
ST. JOSEPH — Whirlpool Corp.’s Gladiator Garage Works brand donated more than $5,000 worth of products to the Children’s Assessment Center this month.
About two weeks ago, 12 members from the brand team volunteered an afternoon to assemble and install the products. Now the center has work tables, storage lockers and wall brackets to keep things organized.
Jamie Rossow, executive director of the Berrien County Council for Children, said they recently expanded their Child Assessment Center after breaking ground in May 2015. The center’s staff moved back in a month ago.
The Berrien County Council for Children is a 501c3 nonprofit that provides investigative interviews and therapy to sexually abused children. Forensic interviewers meet with a child in the center’s interview rooms, so prosecutors can get the info needed and hopefully prevent the child from telling their story more than once.
“Our mission is to support children through a coordinated response to child abuse that includes prevention, assessment and intervention,” Rossow said. “Due to the increasing number of children we see, we completed a renovation and expansion of our building to increase our safe space for kids.”
Josh Gitlin, general manager for Gladiator Garage Works, said he had learned about the Child Assessment Center during a United Way donor tour that highlighted organizations that receive United Way donations.
“What was striking about the visit was the unbelievable number of children that are treated for sexual abuse here in Berrien County. When our team at Gladiator heard about the building expansion of the Child Assessment Center, we wanted to provide product to help make the facility even more useful and help the staff with the resources to better serve the victims of abuse.”
Rossow said that after the tour Gitlin reached out to them with an interest in helping.
“Josh and his son have done some fundraising for us in the past,” Rossow said. “He’s kind of been involved with us before. But when he found out we were expanding, he gave us a call.”
Gladiator Garage Works donated five work benches, several feet of wall tracks that hold gear – which can be arranged to help workers store different items – and a collegiate locker for all three therapy rooms. The storage lockers are different colors with the University of Notre Dame, University of Michigan and Michigan State University logos on the facade.
The financial and in-kind support was big for the center, Rossow said, because its funding is restricted as a nonprofit.
“The donation of the Gladiator furnishings provided us with a functional, organized, beautiful space – furnishings that we would not have been able to purchase ourselves,” she said. “The rooms look amazing. To be able to have these donations was a big cost savings for us.”
Since then, Whirlpool has offered a challenge grant for the Children’s Assessment Center, so any additional funding collected from now until the end of 2016 will be matched by the home appliance maker.
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 27, 2015)