Preventing child abuse one family at a time

There are many nonprofit organizations in the Fox Cities that meet the needs of the community, but Believers Assisting Babies Experiencing Stress, or B.A.B.E.S. Inc., is unique. B.A.B.E.S. Inc. strives to put a stop to child abuse by starting at the very beginning and ending it before it can even start.

B.A.B.E.S., located in the heart of Appleton, is a local abuse prevention service that was started by Dr. G. Manns, former doctor of divinity and pastor, before her passing, at Appleton Sanctuary Church. She saw a need in her church and community, and had the gumption to do something about it.

“Just by thinking of preventative measures instead of after the fact, I think Dr. Manns was a visionary in putting together a program that would surround these families with support,” says Yvonne Kehl, co-chair of B.A.B.E.S. Inc. Hats Off! and Lip-Sync Challenge.

Photo courtesy if B.A.B.E.S. Inc.

Photo courtesy of B.A.B.E.S. Inc.

B.A.B.E.S. has been providing care for young parents since 1970 and has been creating ways to bring in support. The organization’s annual Hats Off! event is perfectly placed, since April is Child Abuse Prevention month. This is their 19th year and in addition to the usual line-up, a Lip-Sync Challenge comprised of seven teams has been incorporated.

“The Lip-Sync is unique for our area. The teams will have choreography, costumes, and special lighting. This is a big production for us with them,” says Elder Williams, executive director of B.A.B.E.S.

The Hats Off! and Lip-Sync Challenge takes place April 28 from 5-9:30 p.m. at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton and has limited seating.

“We’ve got special guests this year. We’ve got Mayor Timothy Hanna, Phil Cianciola, and many others. Most of them are honored judges for the Lip-Sync Challenge. We have Harry Sydney, former Green Bay Packer player and coach. He is the executive director of My Brother’s Keeper in Green Bay,” explains Kehl.

There are an abundance of surprises and unique aspects that make this an event to remember, such as a red-carpet entrance and photos with Sydney. Guests also will be treated to wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres from the Marq. The dress code is urban elegance with bow ties and sparkles encouraged.

“There’s going to be a silent auction with wonderful donations. There’s a spring plant sale and a 50/50 Raffle. The Hats Off! program is emceed by Mayor Timothy Hanna, and there will be information about B.A.B.E.S. Inc.,” adds Kehl.

Photo courtesy if B.A.B.E.S. Inc.

Photo courtesy of B.A.B.E.S. Inc.

If these aren’t good enough reasons to draw in attendees, there are more. In addition to several auction items, there is a special ticket item.

“Mayor Hanna has agreed to allow us to auction him to cook and the winner will receive a dinner for six to eight people. It will be a gourmet dinner, about six courses, paired with wine, in your home or his,” says Williams.

For Hanna, who has worked with B.A.B.E.S. for 13 years, cooking is a hobby.

“People would always come to me and would say, ‘we’re having a silent auction, do you want to donate something?’ So, what I’ve always offered is my cooking services. I try to create a really fun dining experience. We have a lot of fun and the money goes to a great cause. I have a repertoire of dishes I can do and it really depends on their likes and dislikes. I don’t tell them exactly what I’m doing, but I like to get an idea of what they like and dislike, and then I create a menu,” he explains.

Following the first half of the event, everyone will transition to the Kimberly Clark Theater for the Lip-Sync Challenge where Phil Cianciola, the afternoon talk show host for “PhilCast” on WHBY and KZ104.3, will be turned loose.

“He’s just a character. They’re going to be entertained,” says Williams.

This isn’t the first time that Cianciola will be working with B.A.B.E.S.

“They do great work there and it’s all free and they need every dollar they can get. And, I’m happy to go back and contribute,” he explains.

Along with both Kehl and Williams, the participants and others involved are very much looking forward to the Hats Off! event.

“I think it fills a very unique need in our community and just meeting Elder for the first time, her passion for this is just infectious. And, just being at the event I think will be very infectious,” says Kelly Radandt, general manager at Woodward Communications Wisconsin Radio Group.

Everything that B.A.B.E.S. does for the community and the families is based off of monetary contributions from donors.

Photo courtesy if B.A.B.E.S. Inc.

Photo courtesy of B.A.B.E.S. Inc.

“B.A.B.E.S. is 100 percent supported by private donations. We don’t get any federal funding or state funding, it’s totally grassroots supported,” says Kehl.

B.A.B.E.S. Inc. has served 589 families in the last 18-19 years and will be using all the funds raised from the event for their operating budget. Last April, the organization had to say no to 34 children, due to capacity and their goal this year is to lower that number.

“There are a lot of places that do good things in our community, but B.A.B.E.S. is right toward the top of that list,” says Cianciola.

The biggest things that Williams and Kehl hope people will take away from the event is new knowledge, the vision of prevention and how important it is, and the desire to spread the word throughout their community.

To purchase tickets for the Hats Off! and Lip-Sync Challenge, contact the Fox Cities P.A.C. ticket office by calling 730-3760 or call Ticketmaster at (800) 982-2787. Tickets can be purchased online at Tickets are $75 per person, $500 per table of eight or $80 per person at the door until 6 p.m. if available.

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