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Embrace Alabama Kids brings awareness to children’s issues

For children in unfortunate situations, the Embrace Alabama Kids program is working to help and they brought their message to Andalusia Tuesday afternoon.

First established in 1890 as the United Methodist Children’s Home, the program offers a variety of options for underprivileged children.

Senior Vice President of External Affairs Rebecca Morris and Director of Programs Lori Foreman discussed those options locally.

“We have programs that span the whole state of Alabama, but here in Andalusia, we have therapeutic foster care and family preservation. We take care of foster kids who can’t live with their biological families,” Morris said. “In family preservation, we try to keep kids in the home with their parents or biological family. Our staff is on call 24/7 to work with families and we have an incredible staff here who works with our families and the community in Covington County.”

Morris also said they have parents as teachers. She said, “The parent is the first teacher of their children.” According to Morris, if children are removed and put into foster care during family preservation, it is very unlikely they go back to their home. “We try to keep them together and rebuild the family unit.” She said children in foster care can have any kind of diagnosis and there are specialized families in place to take those children. “There is a great need of ministries that take care of children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected at no fault of their own,” she said.

Foreman discussed the three programs offered in Covington County. The foster care program serves approximately 15 to 20 kids at one time. There are 23 families in our family preservation program. In the parents as teachers program, there are 12 to 15 families at one time. The organization offered a floating mural activity at the Carriage House of Springdale Tuesday to raise awareness.

“We painted the murals in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, and Mobile on the same weekend. We had a community event where different kids came,” said Foreman. She shared most of the murals were painted by children in group homes and foster homes to help bring awareness and give them something fun to do. “The children came together to work on the art, which helps bring a community together and also bring awareness to our name change,” she said.

Morris and Foreman each explained why the 131-year-old program changed its name in the spring.

Morris said, “Embrace is what we really do with the kids. We have one of our kids here today, which I call him a kid but he is a young man.” Morris said he lived with them and then graduated from college. According to Morris, there are ministries and a college program for children whether they are in foster care or family preservation. “We really take care of them the span of their lives, and he drove over today to be with us. That’s always fun,” she said.

Foreman said the change better described the roles of the program, which started as an orphanage in Selma. “We have a home for mothers and children who are experiencing homelessness in the Montgomery area. We are all over the state and here to just embrace children wherever they are in whatever need they have. We felt like Embrace Alabama Kids has always been our mission, and now our mission is our name,” said Foreman.

Mayor of Andalusia Earl Johnson was also on hand for the floating mural activity at Springdale.

“These are the kinds of events that bring to light what people are doing. For example, I’ve heard about Embrace Alabama Kids but never truly understood what all they did. I had no idea the Wright and Bergfeld families as well as the United Methodist Church were involved locally. I learned a lot just by being here this afternoon.”

Johnson stated it is important to bring this program to the public’s eye because of the publicity and excitement it entails. “Embrace Alabama Kids is a great organization, which works all over the state and gives kids hope about everything. If you don’t have hope, you don’t have anything. If you can give a child some hope, they have a chance,” Johnson said.

For more information contact Lori Foreman at 334-504-2009 or visit embracealkids.org.