Eagar: An 'advocate' for Bartow's children
by Marie Nesmith
Jun 12, 2011 | 1838 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For Patty Eagar, executive director of Advocates for Children, the best case scenario for her organization would be for it to become an unneeded service, signaling an end to child abuse and neglect in Bartow County. Unfortunately though that presently is not the case as there were 763 local children last year who were the victims of child abuse.

Since 1997, the Cartersville resident has directed Advocates for Children, a nonprofit that serves more than 2,500 area youth each year through the Flowering Branch Children's Center and providing services that assist in the awareness, prevention and treatment of child abuse. Some of its programs include Rainbows grief support, Bartow Court Appointed Special Advocates and A Better Way Children's Advocacy Center.

Like the rest of her staff and volunteers, Eagar currently is catching her breath, with the organization's Duck Derby season wrapping up last month. On May 14, more than one month of fundraising culminated with thousands of rubber ducks racing for prizes at the Riverside Day Use Area on the Etowah River in Cartersville.

Since about 55 percent of Advocates' annual $1.4 million budget currently is raised by the local community, the Duck Derby's success is integral to its operations.

Occupation: Executive director for Advocates for Children, 14 years

City of residence: Cartersville

Family: Married almost 35 years to Bill, four terrific adult "kids," three precious granddaughters (19, 16,

1)

Education: Conestoga High School in Pennsylvania; The Colorado College, Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, 1974

Age: 58

When did you become the executive director of Advocates for Children, and why did you want to be a part of this organization?

A: June 1, 1997. I was looking for a way to mesh my skills at running a business, my appreciation of volunteer work and my love of kids. Pretty perfect fit -- I got very lucky.

What is the purpose of your nonprofit and how does it benefit area children?

A: Advocates exists to fight child abuse, and to help provide safety, comfort and hope to those who are already its victims.

How has Advocates for Children grown/changed since you came on board?

A: We really had only two programs back then -- the old Children's Shelter and a program for divorcing parents. And we had only one fundraising event: Every Child's a Star. We've added programs and discontinued some. Now we have 10, including First Steps, Flowering Branch, Rainbows, CASA, Supervised Family Visitation, Safe Place, Volunteens, TransParenting and A Better Way Children's Advocacy Center. And there's lots more work to be done, unfortunately.

What do you enjoy most about this line of work?

A: Every day is different, that's for sure. Around here, every day is Make A Difference Day.

What is it like for you to witness how Advocates touches the lives of children?

A: Happy endings are the best. Successful adoptions, former residents returning to the shelter with happy families of their own, young moms able to cope and thrive, children who are no longer grieving, and children who no longer live in fear all make it worth it.

How has Advocates' funding changed over the years and how has it affected your organization?

A: Long gone are the days when we actually were part of line items in the state budget. Though state and federal tax dollars do make their way to several of our programs, most of that is through competitive grants. To keep serving over 2,500 children and families each year, we have to raise nearly $700,000. We haven't grown at all in the past few years, though the needs have. Some of our programs have no public funding at all, and are completely supported by donations.

How much money do the Duck Derby-related events generate annually, and did you believe they would be so successful?

A: This year the Duck Derby events netted just under $70,000: about 5 percent of our budget. It takes a lot of work on the part of a lot of staff and dedicated volunteers, and I hope everyone still thinks it's worth it! Back in 2002, when we were getting ready for the first one, I knew this community was ready for a big event like that. It's great fun, raises enormous awareness, and attracts year-round volunteers to our programs. But we are not in the business of racing ducks: they are a means to the end of child abuse.

What are your future goals for the organization? Where do you see it in 10, 20 years?

A: I'd love to see us out of business, because there would be no more child abuse or neglect in this community. In the meantime, we'll forge on, identifying unmet needs and doing our best to fill them.

What is your greatest professional achievement?

A: I have hired some wonderful passionate and professional people over the years who work for us or volunteer for us, and make Advocates look good.

If you weren't the executive director for Advocates, what would you be doing?

A: Organizing something.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

A: My husband says Caring, Creative and Determined, but I'm going with Brilliant, Witty and Gorgeous.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

A: I used to be a manufacturer of fashion boxer shorts and sold them all over the country.

What is your favorite restaurant/meal?

A: Seafood, almost anywhere

What do you like to do in your spare time (hobbies)?

A: Cooking (and watching cooking shows), a little gardening, reading and as much traveling as possible. Oh, and Facebook.

What is your favorite quote?

A: Doing good feels good.

Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?

A: Probably our own backyard, where my husband built us a "mountain," stream, patio and two little mini-ponds.