ALBANY, Ga. -- An organization dedicated to providing closure and comfort to abuse victims has something to smile about.
The Lily Pad Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Center was given a $2,000 Pepsi Refresh grant Monday from Buffalo Rock Pepsi. The money will go toward the organization's forensic medical program.
Specifically, it will fund a 35 mm camera for investigation of physical abuse. "This is so it frees up our other camera," said Executive Director Karen Kemp.
Kemp is referring to the advanced digital imaging technology the center received earlier this year.
Since clothes are generally taken for investigative purposes, the money will also go to purchasing new scrubs and sweats for victims -- which Kemp classifies as a "comfort item."
"It gives them something that is clean and replenishes their dignity," she explained.
Officials with Buffalo Rock toured the facility during their visit Monday and the two organizations have opted to partner in other ways, which Kemp said is expected to result in a flat-screen TV for the children's exam room.
"We are making plans to attempt Pepsi projects on a national scale," the executive director said.
In short, the grant allows the SANE Center to do things it might not be able to do otherwise during the ongoing doldrums.
"Two thousand dollars is not insignificant in this economy," Kemp said. "Like other businesses, we have had to cut corners. This enables us to enhance patient comfort and enhance patient process."
Mike McDonald, general manager of Buffalo Rock, also provided some comments on the grant presentation.
"We are very humbled and fortunate we were able (to provide funding) to the Lily Pad," he said Tuesday. "Their organization is top-notch in what they do. It means a lot to us what they are trying to do (in Albany)."
This development comes at a time when grants are rounding up, as is typical at the end of the calendar year. "It came at a perfect time," Kemp said. "It's been a challenging year for us; we've been dealing with cash flow issues."
Kemp added that there has been a recent caseload increase. While she said that the economy could be a contributing factor on the physical abuse side, the sexual assault caseload is more likely due to an increase in awareness.
"We are having more calls from adults sexually assaulted as a child," Kemp said.
This grant also comes at a time when the Lily Pad is looking to take on an operations officer, as well as expand to other sites in Southwest Georgia.
Specifically, those other sites are the South Georgia Children's Advocacy Center in Grady County and The Treehouse in Thomasville.
"We are not quite there yet, but we working on it," Kemp said. "We are very close in Grady County, and we are doing negotiations in Thomasville."