Sunday, December 20, 2015

Three Ways to Volunteer and Help Children (Even High Schoolers Can Help)

By Megan S. Willman

There are many kinds of therapy at Family & Children's Place, including this one on the computer that a member is participating in. 

Imagine a community where children are free from abuse, violence, and neglect. That’s the vision of Family & Children’s Place, and its president, Pam Darnall, shares the many ways in which this organization strengthens families in our community. Providing service to more than 6,500 children and families a year, Family & Children’s Place is a leader in abuse treatment and intervention services.

What brings Pam to work every day?

“I want to devote my work life to settings where I can contribute, where I can make a difference in the community for children and families impacted by abuse and family violence,” Pam says. “Children cannot vote or advocate for themselves, and they need caring adults willing and ready to advocate for them. Children who have been abused deserve the same opportunities as those who have not experienced abuse and violence in order to have the greatest opportunity for success later in life.”

Family & Children’s Place has been operating in Kentucky for 130 years and in Indiana for 40. In October 2008, a merger with Family & Children First brought about the organization as it is today, becoming the first agency of its kind to offer such a broad scope of services to its clients. Its proven, research-based programs take a three-pronged approach: help prevent abuse, stop abuse, and help families recover.

Aiden love: This therapy dog, named Aiden cuddles with a member.

Pam highlights five of the organization’s services:
  1. Child and Family Services: family and individual counseling for children and adults who are victims of abuse and violence.
  2. HANDS: a program for first-time and expectant parents that helps foster healthy pregnancies, create stable child growth and development, and build safe homes and self-sufficient families.
  3. Family and School Services: after-school programs that focus not only on academic success but also parent engagement, character-building, and creating a support team between students, parents, and schools.
  4. Family Stabilization Program: assistance for families and individuals at high risk of homelessness, which includes a plan for stability to remain in safe housing.
  5. PAL: a Drug-Free Communities Program for the Parkhill, Algonquin, and Old Louisville neighborhoods focusing on helping young people make good decisions.
These programs bring to life the simply stated mission of Family & Children’s Place: “We protect and heal children and families.” More than 100 dedicated staff members bring their expertise to this critical work, and volunteers are not only welcomed but essential. Volunteer opportunities include:
  • Help with and/or participate in annual fundraisers such as a golf scramble, the Annual Caper, and the Building Brighter Futures Breakfast
  • Spend time with children in the after-school programs
  • Share your administrative skills: answer phones, set appointments, stuff envelopes, etc.
Individuals high school-aged or older are welcome to volunteer.

Additionally, there is an Ambassador Program in which young professionals host third-party events to raise funds and awareness for Family & Children’s Place. Not only does this benefit the organization, but it serves to connect with and build future leaders.

If any of these opportunities appeal to you or you’d like to propose another way to help, contact Janet Tinsley or call 502.893.3900. She helps connect willing volunteers to the opportunities that mesh best with that individual’s skills. Or, visit here.

Perhaps the best way to get to know Family & Children’s Place firsthand is to come to a First Friday event. All are invited for a 60-minute lunchtime tour of the Family & Children’s Place campus in downtown Louisville (525 Zane St.). Offered every first Friday of the month, reserve your spot by email.

Explore the many ways you, too, can help create happy, healthy children and families in our community.

Are you involved in volunteering somewhere? Let us know about it in comments.

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