Chief Steve Stahl with Jessica Nicely (left) and Mary Witkofski at the long-awaited opening of the Family Advocacy Center. Photo by Jim Headley

After more than three years of work, the Maricopa Family Advocacy Center officially opened Tuesday morning.

The Advocacy Center will serve as a safe place for the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to receive treatment and exams and be interviewed.

Mary Witkofski, community programs manager for Maricopa Police Department, welcomed the many visitors to the Center. She has been one of the leading forces to make the facility possible.

“It’s been a long three-and-a-half year process, and I’m so excited that it’s finally here,” Witkofski said.

Dawn Theroux leased the expansive home that was transformed into the Maricopa Family Advocacy Center. She was there to help cut the ribbon for the facility.

“Over three years ago we began this process,” Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl said. “The detectives actually started this by saying, ‘Hey, boss, the drive to the nearest family advocacy center is a disservice to the victims in our community.’ We can do better. We should be able to offer our victims some sort of dignity and respect during the investigation process.”

Stahl said the Advocacy Center is the result of the hard work between the Maricopa Police and their partners, Winged Hope and Dignity Health, along with the many volunteers and those who donated to make the Center a reality.

Dawn Theroux leased the house to create the facility. Photo by Jim Headley

“They, too, saw that the City of Maricopa can and should do better for its victims,” Stahl said. “This facility, transformed the way it has been, will treat our victims of sexual abuse, all sex crimes, child abuse and domestic violence with the utmost dignity and respect.”

Stahl said the building represents the people who will be working inside of it.

“I have never, in 32 years of law enforcement, met more passionate people that investigate heinous crimes against our most vulnerable population. These people, the detectives, the victim advocates, the nurses, the doctors, the forensic interviewers, the Department of Child Services, all of our partners, are phenomenal. This building helps them put that phenomenal work together in one building were all services can be provided.”

Theroux said made the house available to become the Advocacy Center because she believed in their dream.

“I have been in Maricopa for over 30 years,” Theroux said. “I watched it go from a small little wide spot in the road into this thriving city that it is now. I am so pleased and proud to have been able to witness that. Giving up this house has been a challenge for me because I have a great love for this facility. But I have loved the dream (of an Advocacy Center) more.”

Witkofski and Stahl joined with Kathleen Dowler with Dignity Health, Jessica Nicely with Winged Hope and Ray Villa with the Community Alliance Against Family Abuse to officially cut the ribbon on Maricopa’s new Family Advocacy Center before a large crowd of police officers, victim advocates, volunteers, officers of the court, politicians and local citizens.

The public was then allowed to tour the new facility.

 

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