News & Events

Oct. 8, 2014: Area universities partner to preserve Children’s Home history

Julie Mote gently paged through a photo album of black and white images showing children gardening, laughing with arms around each other, or riding the bus. Each photo was clearly labeled in neat handwriting with names, events, and dates. Smiling, she pointed out an image to a friend standing next to her. When asked why she keeps all the old albums, she quietly answered, “I don’t know.”

 

“Yes you do,” said her daughter Clara, who had accompanied her to the annual Children’s Home alumni gathering held Oct. 4 in Decatur. “The photos are special. These people are your family.”

 

Julie grew up at The United Methodist Children’s Home, along with the dozens of other individuals at the event. The Children’s Home was established in 1871 to care for children orphaned during the Civil War, and it evolved over the years to help children and families as their needs grow and change. The campus had its own water system, school, farm and church, and at maximum capacity housed 150 children by the late 1960s.

 

A partnership among Emory University, Kennesaw State University, and the Children’s Home will preserve the memories of participating alumni through an archive project. Kennesaw State students interviewed individuals at the Oct. 4 event, and the recordings will be given to Emory University’s Pitts Theology Library. The library also will house photographs and other historical artifacts from the Children’s Home.

 

“These stories need to be preserved,” said Dr. Julia Brock, Kennesaw State University public history professor. “They add texture to our understanding of the history of child welfare and advocacy in the South. The Children’s Home is an historic institution; oral histories shed light on important changes at the Home in the 20th and 21st centuries.”

 

Liz Brown came to the Children’s Home in 1961 at age seven. After overcoming the fear of leaving her dysfunctional home and being placed into an environment with complete strangers, she found relief to find safety, friends, and three meals a day.

 

“It was nice to experience being a kid,” said Brown, who shared her story for the archive project. “My first seven years were spent playing the parent and protecting my siblings, as they did for me. I gained many new brothers and sisters at the Children’s Home. We have a common bond that no one can ever completely understand. I get great satisfaction from seeing all my brothers and sisters each year.”

 

Their bond is based on memories that are too painful for some to revisit.

 

“Time doesn’t necessarily make our memories rosy,” said Debora Burger, who lived at the home in the mid 1960s and early 1970s. “Some alumni don’t come to our annual gatherings. This wasn’t where we wanted to be, but the kids growing up with us were our family. We supported each other, and we celebrated each other’s milestones. It was bittersweet. And some of us remain the closest of friends.”

 

With some alumni now in their mid 80s, this is a critical time to preserve their history before it is lost to time. If you or someone you know is a Children’s Home alumni and wants to participate in this project, contact Dr. Julia Brock at jbrock39@kennesaw.edu.

 

Oct. 7, 2014: 11 Alive’s “Atlanta & Company” features The Children’s Home

Volunteer Coordinator Sharon Brewer appeared live on 11 Alive TV’s “Atlanta & Company After Noon” on Oct. 7 to promote the upcoming Oct. 10-11 flea market and the work of the Children’s Home.

 

Join us at the flea market to find a large variety of items from clothing to appliances to antique jewelry.  All funds raised will benefit the Children’s Home work to help children and families in need. The flea market takes place on Oct. 10-11 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Children’s Home, 500 S. Columbia Drive, Decatur, GA 30030. Food and beverages also will be available for purchase, and reusable Children’s Home shopping bags sold for just $1.

 

Atl & Company host Rashan Ali talks with Sharon Brewer of the Children's Home.

Atlanta & Company host Rashan Ali talks with Sharon Brewer of the Children’s Home.

Watch the Atlanta & Company segment on the Children’s Home.

Sept. 22, 2014: First annual Fam Fest a success!

The United Methodist Children’s Home held its first annual Fam Fest at Six Flags on Saturday, Sept. 20. More than 500 guests, including many of the children and families served by the Children’s Home, enjoyed a day of fun at the park including private access to the Dare Devil roller coaster for one hour, a lunch program led by WXIA 11 Alive anchor DeMarco Morgan, and entrance to a private pavilion with food and beverages.

 

42 sponsors made the event possible, including presenting sponsor Jackson Healthcare, Georgia Power, Weaver Capital Management LLC, Wells Fargo, WXIA TV Gannett Foundation, Inc., and others. The event raised more than $80,000 for the Children’s Home work to help children and families in need.

 

Here are some highlights of the day. We hope to see everyone (and more) for next year’s event!

 

The United Methodist Children's Home held its first annual Fam Fest at Six Flags on Saturday, Sept. 20. More than 500 attendees celebrated a day of fun.

The United Methodist Children’s Home held its first annual Fam Fest at Six Flags on Saturday, Sept. 20. More than 500 attendees celebrated a day of fun.

Five-year-old Taleeia races around the bumper car track.

Five-year-old Taleeia races around the bumper car track.

The Harwood family watches friends prepare to descend on a nearby roller coaster.

The Harwood family watches friends prepare to descend on a nearby roller coaster.

Fam Fest guests enjoy the Dare Devil roller coaster. Children's Home guests enjoyed private access to the roller coaster for an hour.

Children’s Home guests enjoyed private access to the Dare Devil roller coaster for an hour.

Five-year-old Cadence Thomas runs to the next ride.

Five-year-old Cadence Thomas runs to the next ride.

Yolanda White and her sons in line for the Dare Devil roller coaster.

Yolanda White and her sons in line at Six Flags.

Fam Fest guests prepare to ascend the Dare Devil roller coaster.

Fam Fest guests prepare to ascend the Dare Devil roller coaster.

WXIA 11 Alive anchor DeMarco Morgan led the Fam Fest lunch program, which included a catered meal, fellowship and bands.

WXIA 11 Alive anchor DeMarco Morgan led the Fam Fest lunch program, which included a catered meal, fellowship and bands.

More than 500 people attended the first annual Children's Home Fam Fest.

More than 500 people attended the first annual Children’s Home Fam Fest.

Young guests enjoy the candy bar in the Children's Home private pavilion. Fam Fest was made possible thanks to the generosity of 42 sponsors, who donated $110,250. The proceeds from Fam Fest will directly benefit the Children's Home work to help children and families in need.

Young guests enjoy the candy bar in the Children’s Home private pavilion. Fam Fest was made possible thanks to the generosity of 42 sponsors, who donated $110,250. The proceeds from Fam Fest will directly benefit the Children’s Home work to help children and families in need.

Aug. 26, 2014: Rebuilding a Life

Latrena Martin drove from Texas to Atlanta with her three children and the promise of a new start. She had accepted a full-time job and had an apartment lined up. But upon her arrival to the city, the job offer was unexpectedly rescinded, and her apartment was not ready. The family stayed in a hotel, but then money ran out and the apartment fell through too. Within two weeks of her arrival to Atlanta, her family was in the scary situation of sleeping in their car in a parking lot.

 

“People think that homelessness can’t happen to them,” said Noelle Owen, director of family preservation services at The United Methodist Children’s Home. “But imagine the devastating consequences of several bad things happening in a row: a family member has serious health issues, you lose a job, or your spouse dies and you haven’t planned financially. Homelessness could happen to any of us.”

 

Latrena had applied to the Children’s Home Family Housing Program, and thankfully there was an almost immediate housing availability. She was able to move in within days.

 

The Home provides a safe, comfortable home for families at risk of homelessness, giving them key support so they have a stronger chance to succeed on their own. Staff advocate for the family, as well as provide emotional, budget and employment counseling. Families typically stay at the Children’s Home for six to 18 months, until they achieve mutually agreed upon goals such as obtaining a professional license, and have developed a long-term plan for self-sufficiency.

 

“Our first night at the Children’s Home, I felt so relieved. A huge burden had been lifted,” said Ms. Martin.

 

With a secure place to live, she could focus on furthering her education – she enrolled in cosmetology school – on paying her bills, and on her children. For someone like Latrena, who had never been in a situation of needing assistance, it also was a sobering experience. But she knew she was at the home because she needed help to get to the next level.

 

And she did.

 

“It wasn’t easy,” said Ms. Martin. “There were times of struggle, but I kept pushing forward. Those of us in the program helped each other out, for example when daycare wasn’t available and I needed to go to a job interview.”

 

In July 2014, Latrena gave notice to her case worker at the Children’s Home that she would be leaving. She had received her cosmetology license, accepted a new full-time job and secured an apartment.

 

“I didn’t want to be given an exit date, I wanted to do it on my own,” she said, smiling.

 

How did she feel the first night at her new home? “Ecstatic,” she said.

 

 

Aug. 14, 2014: Changing Lives

The United Methodist Children’s Home serves children and families across North Georgia through our top-rated foster care and independent living programs, as well as our family housing cottages where families get the support they need to thrive.

 

Watch our latest video:

 

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