JOLIET — Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announces that County Board Member Herb Brooks Jr. and Dr. Rita Gray from the Will County Health Department have been appointed to the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center’s Board of Directors.
In addition, the Board of Directors bid a fond farewell to founding board member Mike Mikuska, who worked closely with State’s Attorney Glasgow over the past 21 years to develop the services the center provides to sexually abused children and their families.
County Board Member Brooks, who also serves as the longtime pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church, and Dr. Gray, who is a clinical psychologist and the Director of Clinical Training for the Health Department, were nominated by State’s Attorney Glasgow and approved by the Board of Directors at its most recent meeting.
“Our two new members bring tremendous experience, talent and passion to the Board of Directors,” Glasgow said. “It will be a great honor to work alongside Pastor Brooks and Dr. Gray as we guide the Children’s Advocacy Center in its mission to provide hope, healing and justice to vulnerable children.”
State’s Attorney Glasgow, who chairs the board of directors, established the Children’s Advocacy Center 20 years ago as a not-for-profit agency to improve investigations into cases involving child sexual abuse. When children make an outcry of sexual abuse, they are brought to the center, where trained and compassionate forensic interviewers obtain an accurate statement in a neutral, non-suggestive and child-friendly environment.
Interviews recorded at the center have been used to successfully prosecute thousands of child predators. In addition, the center’s experienced staff provides children and families with advocacy, counseling and social services that enable the healing process to begin.
Pastor Brooks has a long history of community work focused on the needs of children. He has served on the boards of both Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will & Grundy Counties as well as CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Will County. In addition, he served as the president for Joliet Public Grade School District 86 and as a member of the Family Violence Coordinating Council.
“I have a strong interest in protecting children, particularly those who are disadvantaged,” Brooks said. “The children who visit the center for interviews, counseling and other services are going through the most traumatic time they may ever experience. It’s an honor to work with a vital agency that helps bring justice and healing back into their young lives.”
As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Gray brings a wealth of experience regarding the important work that is performed by the Children’s Advocacy Center. The Will County Health Department has used the center as a referral source for abused and victimized young people. In addition, she has counseled families and children during times of crisis.
She serves on University of St. Francis Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Advisory Board and the Illinois Psychological Association Committee. And she is affiliated with many local agencies including the Will County Community Health Center Medical Clinic; the Will County Departments of Detention, Probation and Juvenile Court; Guardian Angel Community Services; Cornerstone Services; Stepping Stones; and Youth Experiencing Success in Schools (YESS).
“I truly believe in the center’s mission to deliver justice to sexually abused children and to help the healing process begin for them,” she said. “The services that the Children’s Advocacy Center delivers are invaluable to those who are coping with the trauma of child sexual abuse. I am honored to serve on the Board of Directors.”
On a bittersweet note, State’s Attorney Glasgow and fellow board members presented Mikuska, president of Mickey’s Tire and Service Centers in Joliet, with a plaque honoring his 21 years of service and his work as a founding board member. Mikuska, who decided to step down this year, recalled humble origins when the State’s Attorney approached him at a United Way event to talk about establishing a Children’s Advocacy Center nearly 22 years ago.
“I remember that we used to begin our meetings discussing, ‘OK, how much money don’t we have this month?’” he said.
The not-for-profit center is funded through grants, donations and fundraisers. However, Mikuska worked with the State’s Attorney and fellow board members to develop the center into the first-class agency it is today with its staff of highly skilled professionals and a range of social services for children
“If it wasn’t for your vision this place wouldn’t exist today,” Mikuska told the State’s Attorney at his final board meeting.
Mikuska also is responsible for the slogan that was adopted by the Children’s Advocacy Center when its logo was being redesigned for its 20th Anniversary in 2015. The new motto, “Hope, Healing, and Justice for Abused Children,” perfectly sums up the mission and work of the center, said State’s Attorney Glasgow, who thanked Mikuska for his hard work over two decades.
“I turned to Mike at the very beginning because he is creative and he is committed to protecting children in their time of greatest need,” he said. “Without the steadfast dedication of this devoted community leader, we might never have launched the Children’s Advocacy Center. We will miss him greatly. And we all wish him well as he takes on new endeavors.”