Canadian County child advocacy center earns support

Devon volunteers spruce up C.A.R.T. House; annual gala June 17

Devon Energy employees volunteer through the United Way for a workday at the Canadian County C.A.R.T. House in El Reno: From left, John Atkins, David Wilkowske, Dawson Weathers, Wally Stillwell, J.D. Hardy, Matthew Taylor, Aaron Whiteley, and Tangi Smith. Not pictured is Scott LeMaster. (Photo courtesy)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Canadian County’s child advocacy center, which recently earned a “sprucing up”, is getting ready for its annual gala.

The Child Abuse Response Team (C.A.R.T.) House serves child victims of abuse.

The center, located near the Canadian County Courthouse in El Reno, is a child-friendly and safe place where children can tell a forensic interviewer about their abuse and begin the healing process.

A Canadian County United Way agency, the C.A.R.T. House will welcome support for its cause at the upcoming “Champions for Children Gala” in Yukon.

Recently showing their support were employees from Devon Energy, who volunteered their time and talents during a one-day work project at the CART House.

“They rebuilt and painted our back deck, cleaned up flower beds and planted new plants in front,” C.A.R.T. Executive Director Joanne Riley said. “We are very appreciative because they did things for us that were not in our budget and would not have gotten done otherwise.

“Devon is very supportive of United Way nonprofits through this area.”

Tangi Smith, Devon’s community relations specialist, said the company believes in giving back to the community they are part of.

“We are excited to help the C.A.R.T. House rebuild and paint their back deck and plant flower beds because we believe in their mission of providing a safe environment for children,” Smith said.

For nearly 32 years, the C.A.R.T. House has reduced the trauma of abuse victims by eliminating the need for multiple interviews – so the child does not have to repeatedly tell their story of abuse.

Previously, a child was required to tell their tragic story of abuse to law enforcement agents, attorneys, child welfare workers, and medical professionals.

“We served 255 children in 2022, with referrals from Canadian and several surrounding counties,” Riley said.

C.A.R.T. provides a warm and caring home environment for child abuse victims ages 3-17 years in Canadian, Blaine and Kingfisher counties. Their motto is “Helping Put the Pieces Back Together.”

Devon employees paint and secure the back porch at the C.A.R.T. House in El Reno. The volunteer work crew also refreshed flowerbeds in front of the house during a one-day project. (Photo courtesy)


The C.A.R.T. Champions for Children Gala will be 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, June 17 at 13356 N.W. 84th in Yukon.

“Our gala will be at a venue donated by Yukon philanthropist Dave Mathena,” Riley said. “This is one of our fundraisers that helps support our kids in Canadian County.”

Next month’s event will feature a silent auction and live auction (conducted by Canadian County Commissioner Tom Manske), a tasty dinner and drinks.

Tickets are $35 each. And table sponsorships are $500.

“This helps keep the ticket prices low for our law enforcement and DHS (Department of Human Services) partners,” Riley noted.

Canadian County has one of only 20 accredited child advocacy centers in Oklahoma among about 900 across the United States.

C.A.R.T. is now completing a five-year reaccreditation process through the National Children’s Alliance.

Riley has been the executive director since November 2022 after 5-1/2 years with the Compassionate Hands’ nonprofit ministry.

The Child Welfare Citizens Advisory Board, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, governs the C.A.R.T. House.

Board members are Eric Epplin (president), Jeri Poplin (vice president), County Commissioner Dave Anderson (treasurer), Eileen Gibbens (secretary), State Rep. Rhonda Baker, Carolyn Husmann, Dr. Alecia Hanes, Yukon Police Maj. Curtis Lemmings, Suzanne Thompson, and Carrie Whitlow.

To support the C.A.R.T. House of June 17th Champions for Children Gala, call (405) 422-3459 or visit