March-April 2011 | FOR THE CHILDREN




Bella Grace takes a stand for abused children with “Bumps & Babies Strut Their Stuff”

Melanie Gladden has earned a healthy reputation for community involvement. And while much of that has taken the form of private gestures, the entrepreneur and owner of Bella Grace children’s and maternity boutique in Salisbury has come to realize that her successful business can be a catalyst for even more good work.

On March 24th, Melanie Gladden and Bella Grace will present “Bumps & Babies Strut Their Stuff,” a charity luncheon, auction and fashion show to benefit the Life Crisis Center of Salisbury.

“We are very grateful to Melanie Gladden and Bella Grace for this event,” said Michele Hughes, executive director of the Life Crisis Center. “Her generosity will help us launch our brand-new child therapy garden, so children who have been victims of abuse can further the process of recovery with the aid of their therapists outside, amid the peace and tranquility of the sensory garden.”

Complete with its own fountain, the child therapy garden offers an array of beautiful sights and colors for the purpose of visual and ambient stimulation in ways conducive to a sense of well-being in children. With this facility, the Life Crisis Center hopes to create an environment that will not only help children work through their traumas with play therapy, art therapy and sand therapy but also, in some cases, even provide legally admissible evidence that may bring their abusers to justice.

“There are many figurines, models and drawing materials on-hand that children may use to depict their circumstances when words are not available to them,” said Brynne Moore, the Life Crisis Center’s director of development. “Sometimes, even the sand on which children sit and play can serve as the canvas for their stories.”

The inaugural “Bumps & Babies” event will be held at the beautiful Fountains in Salisbury. In addition to a raffle for an assortment of 25 gift baskets and designer accessories, the $30 ticket buys the attendees lunch — including desserts by the Original Smith Island Cake Co. — an auction and a fashion show featuring the latest, hippest and most stylish designs in maternity and toddler wear. The baby-based haute couture will be modeled by a handpicked collection of Bella Grace’s own customers — including an appearance by celebrity guest model Gabrielle Carlson Heller, Miss Maryland USA 2009.

“Not only does the highest number of domestic abuse cases occur during a woman’s pregnancy,” advised Hughes, who’s been leading the Life Crisis Center for eight years, “but the counties of Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore have a child-sex-abuse rate that is twice the state average, so there is a lot of work to be done and a lot of people who need our help.”

Established in 1976, the Life Crisis Center is a private, nonprofit agency whose mission is to improve the quality of life in the community by providing a wide range of services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.   

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