By Katie Benfield
The organization that was formerly known as Grandfather Home for Children is now called Children’s Hope Alliance after merging with Barium Springs a few years back. Children’s Hope Alliance works to provide a safe place for children throughout North Carolina while the organization encourages, supports and provides them with a healthy new beginning.
Part of this process involves including the community in these efforts that Children’s Hope Alliance is constantly working on. A way that the nonprofit can, and does, include those throughout the community is through various events it hosts during the year.
On Thursday, July 20, Children’s Hope Alliance held its annual Giving Them Hope Luncheon at the Hugh Chapman Center in Linville. The event began at 11:45 a.m. with a welcome by Patty Keeney, a Giving Them Hope Society member, as she described her own experiences with struggling children and a hard life that she was able to improve with the help of God.
When the welcome was over, a previous resident of Children’s Hope Alliance (his name is withheld in order to protect the child) talked briefly about his time at Children’s Hope Alliance in Banner Elk. Through his experiences at the residential group home, he was able to grow, heal and learn. After his invocation, he held a prayer for the food that was being served.
There was about a ten-minute break in between the child’s speech and the speech by John Koppelmeyer, President and CEO of Children’s Hope Alliance. In his speech, Koppelmeyer highlighted the importance of providing a safe home for abused and traumatized children who were at-risk. However, he also focused on describing the utmost importance of providing a support system for families and caretakers, as well.
“This truth of the importance of family connection is the center of our vision moving forward as a family service agency,” Koppelmeyer said. “When we merged and became Children’s Hope Alliance, we created a strategic direction to become the most efficient, most effective, family service agency in North Carolina.”
Koppelmeyer went on to explain that in order to help traumatized children heal, it involves allowing them to grow up in the most normalized family setting as possible. For some of the children associated with Children’s Hope Alliance that means helping the families of these children to heal as well. Sometimes this is helping families deal with their own traumatized pasts, recover from substance abuse and addiction and work towards providing a safe, supportive and caring environment for the children.
“Hopefully we can do most of this work before a child has to be removed from the family,” Koppelmeyer said. “Research shows that the act of a child being removed from their family is just as traumatic as the abuse they may have experienced.”
Once Koppelmeyer’s speech was over, a short video was played for the people in attendance at the luncheon. The video provided an inside look into three stories of children who experienced abuse and trauma and found hope through Children’s Hope Alliance. The video began with each of the children telling their stories, involving being kicked out, having to live on the streets and being sexually abused as young children. The video, then, ended on a hopeful note, with each of the kids explaining what Children’s Hope Alliance did for them, as well as what their plans were for the future.
It was clear through this video that Children’s Hope Alliance is constantly saving lives and giving hope back to children from whom it was all taken.
After the video was over, two live testimonies from children that were in the residential program were given to those at the luncheon.
Both of these testimonies portrayed what these children had been through when they were younger. Their stories varied from one another, but both had the same theme. These two children had suffered abuse in different ways. However, they were both left with the same feelings of hopelessness, loneliness and distress.
By being taken in by Children’s Hope Alliance, these children, as well as all the other children involved at Children’s Hope Alliance, were able to cope and heal from their traumatized past. Now, the two of them have big plans for the future – plans they may not have had, may not have been able to achieve, without the help of Children’s Hope Alliance.
After the testimonies, Tim and Ginger Hall, Giving Them Hope Society members, shared their own story about fostering and adopting. Although it was a struggle, and adopting children is by no means an easy process, it was one that was more than worth it to both of them. They now have a huge family full of love, patience, care and support. The two of them emphasized the fact that there are many more children out there that need homes and families that will care for and protect them.
However, the Halls did acknowledge that it isn’t for everyone to foster and adopt. With that being said, they also stated that there are other ways to help and support fostering/adoption programs and Children’s Hope Alliance, and that was through financial support.
It was a call to action, and a touching one at that. All of the proceeds from the event directly go towards helping children and families in need.
Through all of the speeches, testimonies and everything else the luncheon had to offer, it became obvious to all in attendance that organizations like Children’s Hope Alliance are absolutely necessary to have in communities.
Children are the future, and children should be protected, cared for, supported and worked with in positive environments in any and every way that they can be. Children’s Hope Alliance strives every single day to provide just that for each child in the community that needs it.
For more information about Children’s Hope Alliance, as well as ways to get involved and support the nonprofit, visit the website.