Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes: healing kids from hard places
Published 11:30 am Friday, February 17, 2023
WEST POINT — During their noon meeting on Thursday, West Point Rotary Club members heard a presentation on the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries. Elizabeth Williams, the organization’s director for the east central Alabama region, discussed this ongoing effort to protect, nurture and restore the lives of children through Christ-centered services.
Alabama Baptist placed children in need of responsible parenting in foster homes. One of the organization’s home offices started in Auburn several years ago with four foster families. That number has grown to 24 families taking care of 22 children.
For many of these children, attending a summer camp at Shocco Springs has been a life-changing experience for the better. The event occurs each year during the first week of June and is called the Camp of Champions. Children who have experienced periods of abuse and neglect in their own families are given the opportunity to share hope and healing. Nearly 1,000 foster family members and volunteers participate in educational sessions, sports, lake/pool activities and evening parties.
Email newsletter signup
“After attending a Camp of Champions,“ Williams said, “children, foster parents and staff members leave feeling encouraged, equipped and renewed to continue their service through foster care in Alabama.”
In many cases, a child who gives their life to Jesus returns to their original home to have a positive impact on other family members.
ABCH is the largest faith-based provider of foster care services in Alabama. Safe and loving homes are being provided to hundreds of children who are in need of it.
“Our goal was to never be the largest faith-based nonprofit dedicated to foster care in the state,” Williams said. “It is to be a a team of employees and partners where Christ creates healing for kids and families from hard places.”
There are approximately 6,000 children in Alabama’s foster care system.
“Our hope is to reach even more of these precious children in 2023,” Williams said.
Williams mentioned a disturbing story of a young girl who entered the foster program with nothing more than the clothes on her back and some foul-smelling clothes in a bag. A treasured pink blanket she was hugging had a bad smell, too.
When they looked into the bag, they discovered the source of that bad smell. The young girl’s birth mother didn’t like it that her daughter was being taken away from her and placed in a foster home. She expressed that displeasure by dumping a lot of animal feces in the bag.
The foster parents had little choice than to discard the bag of clothes. They did keep the little girl’s pink blanket, but only after numerous times of having it washed and deodorized.
Another little girl came into the program not knowing what her given name was. It seems that her birth mother had always called her girl. When the foster parents found out what her name was, they put it on big letters on the wall in her room.
“She loved it,” Williams said. “It’s like a light turned on for her.”
Soon after that, the little girl with a new name accepted Christ. She asked to do one thing before being baptized.
“I want to pray for my mom,” she said. “I want her to have a better life.”
“We are a Christ-centered organization,” Williams said. “We believe the only way you can forgive others is that you have been forgiven yourself.”
ABCH has a Family Care program for single mothers with children.
“They can live in a home for up to one year,” Williams explained. “We can teach them to budget their income and to cook healthy, affordable meals.”
The organization has worked on behalf of children as soon as they are discharged from the hospital as a newborn baby until they graduate from high school.
Those who donate to Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes can be part of a child’s life. Donors can become part of Hero Partner monthly giving. Raising a child in foster care costs at least $40 a day. This can mean diapers and wipes, medical attention, tutoring, counseling, clothes or toys. It can also mean making sure they enjoy fun school or church activities, joining a sports team, learning to drive or going to college. For details, go to alabamachild.org/give.
Special projects in 2022 included $5,000 for purchasing office furniture for the Oxford office, $5,000 to replace lobby chairs and furniture at the Dothan office, $8,000 for tree removal and $10,000 to rebuild a staircase at Alabaster Family Care, $15,000 for playground improvements in Mobile, $25,000 for a vehicle for a social worker in Decatur, $30,000 for a vehicle for a social worker in Birmingham and $35,000 for a vehicle for a social worker in Auburn.