Advocacy center receives $10k  donation from nonprofit

Pictured is The SAM Foundation Alabama Program Coordinator Nicole Goggans and DeKalb County Children's Advocacy Center Executive Director Liz Wheatley.

Last week The SAM Foundation, a non-profit organization, presented the DeKalb County Children’s Advocacy Center with a $10,000 donation.

Alabama Program Coordinator for the SAM Foundation, Nicole Goggans, said, it’s important to them to continue to support the Children’s Advocacy Center in Fort Payne.

She said the CAC is an essential resource in the community. As a partner of The SAM Foundation, they have been able to work together to train several area counselors in suicide prevention programming.

The inspiration for the foundation is Sam Johnson, who died by suicide Dec. 17, 2002, brother of Georgia Program Coordinator Julie Smith and Alabama Program Coordinator Nicole Goggans.

The foundation offers free programs that include a variety of suicide prevention training that are customizable for any organization.

The programs are also set to facilitate support groups for those affected by suicide or may be in crisis, including their families and friends.

CAC Executive Director Liz Wheatley said through its School-Based At-Risk Therapy program, the CAC staff are called upon to assist school counselors when threats of suicide or self-harm are made.

Wheatley said the CAC has been providing therapy in schools since 2000, and The SAM Foundation has been contributing donations since it’s been in existence because they work in the schools as a therapy resource.

“In just a four-month period, six counselors trained at the CAC were able to directly help 18 students who were in crisis,” said Goggans.

In the School Based At-Risk Therapy program, therapists refer the student to in-patient facilities or hospitals if needed.

Wheatley said the funds from The SAM Foundation “help provide hope through individual therapy services as long as it is needed.”

The SAM Foundation has worked directly with Wheatley to provide educational programming and create a strategic network for the state of Alabama that focuses on mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

“The day that Nicole Goggans called me and was sharing with me about starting The SAM Foundation and some of the things that they wanted to accomplish through the foundation, we both knew that our compassion for that same type of need was running parallel to one another,” said Wheatley.

She said the heart and compassion that went into beginning The SAM Foundation says a lot and “this family has experienced suicide in a very real way.”

Goggans said they are “really proud” of their suicide prevention programs at work and their success in helping the community.

“We are grateful to the CAC for hosting several important training programs for mental health professionals over the last year and for how it is helping many throughout our community,” she said.

Goggans said their relationship with the CAC has been important since the beginning of The SAM Foundation.

“Elizabeth Wheatley and her team are extremely valuable to the community and have been a great resource and partner for the foundation,” she said.

To learn more about the SAM Foundation, visit

For more information about the DeKalb County Children’s Advocacy Center programs and services, visit

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