The month of April represents the start of spring and renewed hope for many children. April has also been designated as national Child Abuse Prevention Month by Congress since 1983. More than 400 guests of the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center annual Reach for the Stars dinner gathered Friday, April 11 in support at the Westin Denver Downtown.

The Center is a non-profit law firm that provides much-needed services for abused and neglected kids so that they have hope for a successful future. Founded in 1981, the Center provides legal advocacy for victims of child abuse and neglect with the goal of securing a permanent, nurturing environment for every child made possible with support from social work professionals and attorneys.

In 2012, an estimated 1,640 children in the U.S. died from abuse and neglect, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services And that same year, children’s advocacy centers around the country served more than 286,000 child victims of abuse, providing victim advocacy and support to these children and their families. In 2013, this number was estimated to be more than 294,000, according to the National Children’s Alliance.

Thanks to generous support from individuals, small business, corporations and professional firms throughout Denver and Colorado, the Center serves more than 1,500 children each year through a wide variety of programs including support for guardianship, domestic violence and education programs, caregiver advocacy, community education, and a helpline. Staff attorneys serve as court-appointed guardians who represent and protect the best interests of abused and neglected children involved in open Colorado Department of Human Services cases.

Executive Director Stephanie Villafuerte, Esq. joined the Children’s Law Center four years ago as Executive Director succeeding Director and Founder Shari Shank, Esq. who started the organization more than 30 years ago.

Emcee Gloria Neal kept the program on track and auctioneer duties were performed by Debbie Stafford with live entertainment provided by members of the SOAR! Youth and Adult Choir. Executive Director Villafuerte and Board Chair Carla Dore thanked sponsors, volunteers and board leadership for their service and many contributions. This year’s board members include Stacy Carpenter, Kelly Condon, Randy Fons, John Hallin, Judy Laspada, Jane Michaels, Heather Purcell-Leja, Shellie Rosser. A special thanks went to volunteers and supporters Justin Breland, Katherine Hudson, Ernie Santella, Paul Trantow and Jenifer Woods.

Super Star sponsors this year included Noble Energy, Colleen Abdoulah Family Fund of the Denver Foundation, and Santella Productions while Shooting Star supporters were Holland & Hart LLP, Judy Laspada, Markus Williams Young & Zimmermann LLC.

The motto of the Center is to Prevent, Protect and Prepare. The Center works year-round to prevent abuse, to protect children who have suffered devastating maltreatment and to prepare children for a future that is abuse free — a life full of promise and hope. For more information visit www.rockymountainchildrenslawcenter.org or call 303-692-1165.