CAASA holds community event on Friday, Aug. 5

Monday, August 1, 2022

PLYMOUTH CO. — The Centers Against Abuse and Sexual Assault (CAASA), will host a community picnic and informational event from 3-7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 5, at the Olson Cultural Event Center in downtown Le Mars. Iowa BBQ will be serving food from 5-6:30 p.m., along with Blue Bunny Bomb Pops.

The event is free to the public.

“This is the first time we’ve done an event like this,” said Tracy Ruden, who serves as the Plymouth County Advocate for CAASA.

“We’re just trying to get some community awareness, community outreach,” she said.

One group present will be Wet Nose Rescue, which works with animals needing fostering or adoption.

“The fire truck will be there from Le Mars Fire-Rescue Emergency Services, and there will be a police car there as well,” she continued. “The sheriff’s department, police and and firemen will be there to play yard games with the kiddos, so hopefully we can talk to the parents a little bit.

“It’s easy for me to talk to kids because I go into schools and do presentations. But it’s hard to get in contact with parents,” she said. “We want to tell them we’re here, and these are some signs your kids might need some questions asked. These are the services we provide.”

Ruden wants to emphasize the services of CAASA.

“We’re friendly, we’re safe, we’re confidential and we’re free,” she said.

While she serves as the Plymouth County advocate, when a call comes in for assistance, she covers Lyon, Sioux, Plymouth, Woodbury and Monona Counties.

Ruden began her work with CAASA in April, and said since the middle of May, there have been 14 reported, new sexual assault cases reported in Le Mars.

“We work very closely with law enforcement. If they are called to a scene, their first call is to us,” Ruden said.

They also work closely with hospitals and the county attorney’s office.

“We show up at the scene, we show up at the hospital, we show up at the law enforcement interviews, we’re with them through court, we walk through the whole thing with them,” she explained.

If needed, CAASA provides housing, pays the first month’s rent, helps with groceries, utilities, gas and helps the individual get into counseling.

“It’s actually surprising but a lot of the cases around here are juveniles. I think I have three adults and the rest of my clients are juveniles right now,” Ruden stated.

As an advocate, Ruden spends time with the individual affected by a assault.

“We do a lot of activities, or go to the coffee shop. I don’t want them to sit in my office and tell my everything,” she said. “We are there to support them through the process.”

CAASA is a non-profit organization providing services for victims of sexual violence in 19 counties in Iowa, including Plymouth County.

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