Explore Corsicana January-March 2019 - Page 23

MAKING A DIFFERENCE A passion for Christ Steve Hayes Protector of children Jenny Bratton Navarro County Child Advocacy Center Grace Community Church Over the decade Steve Hayes has served as Senior Pastor at Grace Commu- nity Church in thriving downtown Corsicana, his passion for Christ and immense love for his church members and community has been evident. Hayes was born in Aschersleben, Germany but moved to Louisiana shortly after. He grew up in Lake Charles where he developed a love of crawfish, Louisiana State University football and the New Orleans Saints. During his first stint in Corsicana, Hayes served as the Stu- dent Pastor and Worship Leader at Grace from 2000-2004. He then moved to the Irving Bible Church, but returned in 2008 to be the Pastor at Grace. His work in his ministry and beyond has led him down several new and rewarding paths. Hayes began as a Creative Consultant for RightNow Media in Dallas in 2002. By 2008 he had moved back to Corsicana and, along with being a pastor, was also a member of the Navarro County Food Pantry. Here, he was able to help those in need have meals and other health-based services. He was a board president at the Hope Center, where he made deci- sions regarding providing services to women and men about pregnancy and parenting. He was a chairman of the board at the Baptist Student Ministry, working alongside Navarro Col- lege to give students a place to meet and study the word. Hayes was also a founder of the Backpacks of Love, which provides essential supplies for students for back to school. He has also held the position of president of the City of Corsicana Main Street Advisory Board. Hayes currently serves as a Board Member of the Navarro County Charity Council along with the Corsicana ISD Advi- sory Committee. In addition to being a pastor, he also serves the community and Christ as a President of the Ministerial Alliance. He has also published a book this year titled Four Stories: Understanding God, You, Your Neighbor, and the World. During hurricane Harvey, Hayes and a group of other volunteers made two trips to Beaumont. This area had more rain than any other during the storm and the flooding was tremendous. His group was the first on the scene, and were able to help gut several homes and repair flood damage. Hayes has been married for nearly 22 years to his wife Kim and together they share five children. While each of their children are special, their middle child, Pierce, is a person with autism. Raising him has been, in Hayes’ words, “A beautiful mess, and has helped our family become more tight-knit and loving.” The family also has three dogs. Some of Hayes’ hobbies include fishing, hunting, watching football, playing guitar and doing Crossfit. The executive director of the Child Advocates of Na- varro County, Jenny Bratton, has served in that capacity since 2011, only the third director since its inception. Bratton is an attor- ney who is licensed to practice law in Texas, but instead serves the children of Navarro County in this capacity. The Advocacy Center offers many services for children going through an abuse case investigation. More children than you’d ever realize suffer from abuse, neglect, or sexual abuse. The Child Advocacy Center offers confidential counsel- ing with the parent(s) and children, services to siblings, emotional support, and other case specific services. “Once a child goes through a case with us, we leave that door open to them forever,” Bratton said. “We are here whenever they may need us.” Since the doors opened in 2002, the center has helped somewhere around 2,000 children. Court Ap- pointed Special Advocates are volunteers who guide a child through the court process, advocating for the child. Right now, every child in Navarro County going through a court process has a CASA. That can only be said for about 4-5 programs in the state of Texas. CAC is also there to help children who aren’t the typical “victims” of a crime, but whose lives are certainly affected by a crime. Bratton said they are pleased to be able to help children outside the realm of normal sexual abuse. The center is totally confidential. Information is only shared with law enforcement, Child Protective Services and the District Attorney’s office. This way, the child only has to tell his/her story one time to a forensic in- terviewer (one specially trained not to “lead” the child in any way, and help them tell it in their own words) and not have to live the horror of repeating the story over and over. Under the leadership of Bratton, services and staff have increased, the program income has more than tripled, partner relations have improved, and a Leader- ship Council has been created. The center is making a difference in more lives than ever before. E X P LO R E C O R S I C A N A |   C O R S I C A N A DA I LY S U N | J A N - M A R C H 2 0 1 9 23