Patty Eagar, CEO and President of Advocates for Children, has announced her retirement from the organization. Eagar, who has been with the organization 18 years as of June, will retire on December 31 of this year.

Advocates for Children was established in 1983 when a handful of community members recognized the need for prevention and treatment of child abuse. The first location was at 13 Elizabeth Street and was quickly outgrown due to high demand of available space and services.

Eagar, who joined the staff in 1997 as a part time director, hit the ground running and in less than two years was overseeing the current administrative office of Advocates for Children as well as Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter location at 49 Monroe Crossing.

As awareness grew along with community support, so did the programs and services. When Eagar began, only two programs were present: Transparenting (then called “Helping Children Cope with Divorce”) and Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter. Over the years, expansion has included nine programs including Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), A Better Way Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) where forensic interviews are conducted, Rainbows-a grief support program for children, along with preventive programs like Hope in Your Home and First Steps. The newest program, Great Start Georgia, will be in full swing by 2016.

Advocates also began a partnership with Safe Place, a national program to offer safety and shelter for runaway, homeless youth. Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter is one of only two Safe Place locations in metro Atlanta.

Along with the expansion of programs and services under Eagar’s leadership so did locations. In 2008 the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) opened its doors at 113 Douglas Street. In 2012, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) occupied its current location at 654 Joe Frank Harris Parkway and now serves as home to the CASA employees and over 80 CASA volunteers.

“We are very proud of Patty and thankful for the 18 years of service she has given to the children and families of Bartow County. We are excited for her as she begins the next phase of her life and as her new role as a grandmother,” said Todd Browning, chair of the board of trustees for Advocates. “We have a great team in place at Advocates and look forward to many more years of serving the children and families that need the services provided by Advocates for Children.”

Advocates provides unique services in Bartow County; there is no duplication of services through the eight programs by any other organization here.  Without Advocates, over 3,000 children and families would not receive these services—a real tragedy.

Eagar has grown the organization from a small, old house on Elizabeth Street with 20 employees, two programs and serving an average of 200 families and children annually to 42 employees, nine programs and serving over 3,000 children and families each year.

As Eagar prepares to let her team of professionals take the reins she can rest, reflect and enjoy her retirement with great pride knowing all she has accomplished over the last 18 years.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my many years at Advocates, not only because of what we have accomplished for thousands and thousands of children and families over the past 18 years, but because of the pleasure of working with such wonderful, committed and creative people: our staff, board members, volunteers and supporters.

“Stepping away will allow me to do some new things away from here.  Among other things, my granddaughter Annabelle was born this month, and Bill and I have some travelling to do while I still can.  I love this place, as everyone who knows me knows, and will always continue to do so.”

The staff and board of Advocates for Children will plan a celebration later this year to honor Eagar and all her many years of work and dedication to the prevention and treatment of child abuse.