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Harris Home for Children seeking community support, funding and partnerships

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 9:54 AM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - If you are looking for ways to get involved in your community this year, consider checking out the Harris Home for Children. The full-time foster care center and crisis support program has been serving our community for nearly 68 years, but funding has become a prominent issue.

“We are still dealing with some of the old policies that they have when it comes to funding,” said Executive Director Reggie McKenzie. “So we realize that we have to get the community involved in an effort to survive.”

Harris Home is greatly funded by the State Department of Human Resources, but right now that’s simply not enough. Enrollment keeps increasing as kids from emergency situations across the state are coming in.

“We are seeing a trend now where more kids are coming into the foster care system,” McKenzie said. “We need more foster care parents, more facilities like Harris Home for Children because we have seen an uptick in children.”

Harris Home is the only crisis program in Alabama, which means it serves kids all across the state. But many of the kids are from the local Huntsville, Madison area. According to McKenzie, about 50 percent of their kids come from Madison County.

“The state needs us to stay in business,” McKenzie said. “So we need the community to help, to step in so we can be around another 68 years.”

Adrian Hargrove, director of the crisis and moderate programs said he wants to focus on getting their kids out into the community this year. He hopes all types of organizations in Huntsville will hear this message and lend a hand.

“The needs that we have are pretty vast…But everything from financial to sometimes just activities…So if there’s an event going on in town…I know the Harlem Globetrotters are coming out so tickets to things like that. The Trash Pandas…restaurants. Anything that we can do to kind of incentivize the program for them, to reward them when they are doing well,” Hargrove said.

Harris Home has many great community partners, such as Holder Construction. Hargrove said the company stepped in and renovated one of their facilities.

“Everything from our roof, to fixing holes, plumbing, so many things that we needed…Holder Construction stepped in,” Hargrove said. “They raised funds and members from their team really took good care of us.”

There are a host of other local groups that have helped Harris Home in the past few years. For example, during Christmas time many community partners raised funds and bought toys and gifts for Harris Home kids.

Bridging the achievement gap among young people is another goal of leaders at Harris Home. It’s their priority to ensure all of the kids get the educational support, guidance and mentorship they deserve.

Randy Barbour, the education coordinator of Harris Home said he wants to expose their young adults to various opportunities right here in North Alabama. He said they’ve worked closely with Drake State and Calhoun Community Colleges, and would love to build more collaborations like that.

“I have done some tours with some of our young people at Calhoun,” he said. “Just going through a lot of the facilities really helps them to get an idea of what the possibilities are like out there.”

Barbour also said they are looking for tutors and mentors to help their kids succeed in school.

“A lot of our young people come from environments where they didn’t have that support academically and so providing that academic support is really helpful for them. I’m kind of the sole parent…I attend all of their parent-teacher conferences, and any other events they have at school. But having a community to kind of wrap their arms around, especially in the academic setting is really really helpful.”

If you’d like get involved at Harris Home, you can call 256-837-0332. You are also welcome to stop by the Harris Home office on Church Street to learn more about their needs and other ways to partner, or get involved.

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