Gala Raises $100,000

Gala Raises $100,000

Center for Alexandria’s Children honors three for work with at-risk children.

The Center for Alexandria’s Children, a public-private partnership that serves abused and neglected children, raised a record $100,000 and honored three Alexandrians who have shown dedication and service to improving the lives of Alexandria’s children at its fourth annual Gala Benefit on Feb. 28 at Virtue Feed & Grain in Old Town.

Alexandria residents Lissa and Dagobert Soergel were presented with the Center’s 2013 Champion for Children Award for their work in founding and expanding Child and Family Network Centers (CFNC), an organization which provides preschool education for at risk children in Alexandria and Arlington.

Arika Van Brunt, a senior therapist with the Preschool Prevention Team at the Center for Children and Families in the City of Alexandria’s Department of Community and Human Service received the Center’s 2013 Outstanding Dedication to Alexandria’s Children’s Award for her work ensuring the healthy social emotional development of Alexandria’s at-risk children.

Center Executive Director Giselle Pelaez commended the award recipients for their contributions: “The Soergels are an extraordinary couple who recognized that many at-risk children were beginning their educational life at a deficit with no preschool preparation, placing them behind their counterparts who begin preschool at age two or three. In creating Child and Family Network Centers, the Soergels ensured all children in our community have the chance to start out on an equal footing, thus preparing and empowering them for success in school and life.”

In presenting the Dedication to Children Award to Van Brunt, Pelaez said, “Arika believes strongly in the value of playgroups and in the collaborative vision of the City's playgroup initiative. She is making enormous contributions in the development and refinement of the playgroup model and curriculum."

The sold-out event featured a Roaring 1920’s theme and drew a capacity crowd of 300 people. Attendees dressed in vintage 1920’s chic and featured a silent auction and raffle, as well as a Be A Star table where patrons could purchase toys and needed items for the Center.

Benefitting the Center for Alexandria’s Children, the gala supports the work of a team of professionals dedicated to protecting Alexandria’s children and strengthening its families by coordinating the investigation, prosecution, treatment and prevention of child abuse in one safe, child-friendly facility. The Center’s partnership with city child welfare agencies brings together, social workers, detectives, prosecutors and therapists, who provide a systematic approach for serving abused and neglected children in the community.

In 2012, the Center provided comcare to children involved in close to 200 new cases of suspected abuse and severe neglect. It has reached hundreds of families through its developmental playgroups program in which children learn through play, and adults learn parenting best practices from experts and from each other. Within the past year, more than 500 Alexandria children and their parents and caregivers participated in weekly playgroups. A

“Thanks to our generous supporters, the Center has been able to devote increased resources to child abuse prevention, education, and outreach,” Board Chairman Nigel Morris, said. “The record level of support for this year’s gala, which raised more than $100,000 for the Center’s programs, affirms our community’s commitment to making Alexandria a safe place for each and every child.”

For more information, visit the Center’s web site at