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A fish tank, which is part of the ABC House's ocean-themed interior design, rests on a pedestal in front of receptionist Itamar Jimenez, far right, plus Deannna Hubele, left, and Michele Roberts. The ABC House hosted a ribbon-cutting for its new location in downtown Albany on Thursday. 

In a perfect world, we wouldn't need the services of the agency that has its reason for being embedded in the initials of its name: the ABC (All Because of Children) House.

But this is not yet that world. And so we need the ABC House, the nonprofit child abuse intervention center which has provided services to thousands of children in both Linn and Benton counties since its founding more than two decades ago.

And it goes deeper than that: ABC House needs a facility that is a better fit for its workload, which has grown since its first days.

The numbers tell the story: In its first year of operation, the agency treated 57 people. Last year, it served more than 600 from Linn and Benton counties, provided counseling services to nearly 100 families and helped educate more than 3,000 children and adults on ways to help keep kids safe.

The agency has long since outgrown its old office space, with its 4,600 square feet of space. Due to space and staff limitations, there can be delays of two to three weeks for medical exams and trauma counseling.

So the news that ABC House has finally moved into its new location, 228 Fifth St. SW in downtown Albany, truly is worth celebrating. The organization held its official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday. 

The new facility, with more than 11,000 square feet, will "double our capacity to serve children," said Jennifer Gilmore-Robinson, the organization's executive director. More room means more private spaces, which means the center should be able to accommodate up to two assessments and three counseling appointments at any given time. The fundraising campaign that allowed ABC House to buy and renovate the downtown building also will allow the organization to expand its staff.

The organization has come a long way from its earliest days in 1997, when it started operating in an office at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital. It moved to Albany in 1999. And today, its new home stands just south of the Linn County Courthouse, a location that should give the organization increased visibility. Congratulations to Gilmore-Robinson and the many other people, in both Linn and Benton counties, who helped make the ABC House's new home a reality.

We can dream about a time when not a single child in the mid-valley suffers abuse, and maybe that time will dawn on some distant day. But until then, the services of the ABC House are essential. Its new location in the mid-valley is a welcome burst of good news for the mid-valley. (mm)

Norma Paulus, 1933-2019

The state's political landscape suffered another loss this week: Norma Paulus, the first woman elected to statewide office in Oregon, died Thursday at age 85.

Paulus served as Oregon's secretary of state from 1977 to 1985, was the Republican nominee for governor in 1986 and served two terms as the state's superintendent of schools in the 1990s, back in the days when that was an elected position. As secretary of state, she advocated for the state's vote-by-mail system and emphasized the office's auditing duties, a role that Dennis Richardson embraced when he was elected. (Richardson, the Republican who was elected to the office in 2016, died earlier this week of brain cancer at age 69). Paulus also served as the executive director of the Oregon Historical Society, a fitting position for someone who made so much history herself.

Paulus was a fiscal conservative, a feminist and an environmentalist, a combination that helped her reach across the aisle to Democratic lawmakers when she was elected to the state House in 1970. At the time, the Legislature included only a handful of women; it's not an accident that her autobiography bears the title "The Only Woman in the Room." But Norma Paulus' life and work helped to ensure that other Oregon women will not be so lonely in those rooms. (mm)

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