APPLETON (NBC 26) — It's almost time to put on your evening best for the Black & Pink Ball. It's the Mid-Day Women's Alliance's biggest fundraiser and, this year, the money raised will go towards preventing child abuse in our area.
B.A.B.E.S., Inc. child abuse prevention program in Appleton has a new initiative. Their Strengthening Families workshops are designed to give parents the tools they need to create and maintain healthy relationships with their children.
"The kids don't come with an instruction book," said Ben Vargo.
When Vargo became a father a year-and-a-half ago, he knew he wanted to give little Lillly the best life possible.
"I don't want my daughter to look at me as just some big mean guy that's coming after her all the time. I want to get along with my kids."
"Raising kids is hard," added Pastor Mahnie. "So if you don't have support and tools, you may make some mistakes along the way."
B.A.B.E.S. Executive Director Pastor Mahnie hopes to prevent those mistakes by offering free Strengthening Families workshops at B.A.B.E.S.
"Within the 14 weeks, we're looking at stages of what children should know or what they should be able to do," she explained. "We also talk about noticing and ignoring, so noticing the good behavior, ignoring minor behaviors."
Parents also learn about positive reinforcement and how to plan ahead for challenging situations.
"So that we're not reacting, because when we get to the reaction, that's where the negative things happen and the abuse could happen."
Vargo says the sessions are also helping Lilly learn expectations, and even after parents complete the Strengthening Families program, B.A.B.E.S. follows up with them every month to help them stay on track.
The Mid-Day Women's Alliance believes the program is making a positive impact on the community. It's why the networking and women empowerment group has chosen B.A.B.E.S. to be the recipient of the money raised through this year's Black & Pink Ball.
"We have some amazing donations rolling in that you will have the opportunity to take home that night," said Black & Pink Ball Co-Chair Sarah Fabry.
Last year, the auction, raffle and dinner event raised $35,000. They're funds that B.A.B.E.S. can use to grow its new program.
"By having that opportunity to track those results, they'll be able to show those results then forward which will allow them to get funding from more public things as well," said Fabry.
Pastor Mahnie believes it will lead to more parents getting the training they need to create the family strategy and structure that will help children, like Lilly, thrive.
"When you have kids that have a good relationship with their parents at home, that are accountable for their actions, that sort of thing, what does that say about the community? You have a lot less kids that are getting into trouble," said Vargo.
The Black & Pink Ball is happening on Wednesday, December 4th from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. It's being held at the Butte des Morts Country Club in Appleton which is a new location this year.
The money raised from the Black & Pink Ball will also help B.A.B.E.S. continue to offer free respite care and economic support for families.