Brantwood Children’s Home provides a safe space and healing for hurting children, victims of abuse and neglect, in the River Region. It provides the basics — food, shelter and clothing — but it also instills a sense of normalcy and fosters trust in the lives of the children under its care.
“When you see a child — a child who’s been through the unimaginable — start to smile and speak. When you see things beginning to change for them, that’s when you know the work you’re doing is so worthwhile,” said Gerald Jones, executive director of Brantwood Children’s Home.
Brantwood Children’s Home was founded in 1917 by the Federation of Women’s Club. The original idea was to care for and house children of incarcerated parents. Today, it’s evolved to also provide a home for children or teens who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. Jones, who’s been at the helm of the nonprofit for more than 24 years, has seen hundreds of children come up through the organization, and currently, Brantwood has 25 children, teens and adults ages 10 to 21 under its care.
“We wish there wasn’t a need for our program. Unfortunately, there is. We see it as our responsibility to help these kids heal and be made whole again — to normalize their environments,” said Jones. “It truly changes their lives and gives them the emotional and educational skills to be successful, good citizens.” It does this transformative work by ensuring its kids have necessities like food, shelter and clothing. But it also goes far beyond these basics. Brantwood staff members supervise the children’s education, health and social adjustments into the community. They encourage them to participate in chores, family meals and extracurricular activities.
But raising children is expensive. While Brantwood receives about $11 to $14 per day in state funds for each child, that amount barely covers the basics, let alone the extras. “It is important for the community to realize how much money it takes to meet the needs and some of the wants for the kids. There is such a need for support; financially, emotionally and spiritually. We appreciate the many private and corporate donors we have. They allow us to keep doing what we’re doing,” said Jones.
Robby Brantley, the Vice President of Capitol Container, is not only invested in Brantwood’s work as a donor, he also serves on the program’s board of directors. He grew up watching his mother volunteer with Brantwood. Brantley volunteered himself as a child. “Brantwood is an organization that’s always been very dear to our hearts,” Brantley said. “Anytime you can support such an important organization for our community, it becomes a very easy decision.”
Archie Grubb, a Principal with Beasley Allen, is another dedicated volunteer and board member. “We have been privileged to partner with Brantwood for more than a quarter-century,” he said. “Brantwood’s legacy of caring for hurting children fits squarely into our company’s mission and our duty as citizens of Montgomery.”
In addition to monetary donations, Brantwood also accepts in-kind gifts and donations of clothing, shoes, toiletries and furniture, all of which are tax-deductible. Its annual “For the Love of Our Children” golf tournament is one of its largest fundraisers of the year. “These children desperately need every opportunity you can help us provide,” said Jones. “For many children, Brantwood is a place for ‘firsts’ — the first time they’ve received something brand new of their own; the first time they’ve slept with sheets on their bed; the first time they’ve received a Christmas gift.”
In more than two decades leading the organization, Jones says it’s the little moments that remind him that this is what he was called to do. One of those moments sticks out — when he installed a new board member who came to Brantwood as a child. “That’s one of the joys of being here so long; seeing those kids, now with their own families and careers, wanting to come and give back,” Jones added. “That’s why we do what we do.”
GIVEBACK + BRIEFS
In Memory of the Great Rememberer
Montgomery and the River Region lost one of their brightest lights in August when local historian Mary Ann Neeley passed away. For decades, she’s been the foremost authority on area history and has spent countless hours enthusiastically sharing every facet of Montgomery’s story — warts and all — by writing books and articles, leading tours and more. She made people care about the things that came before and helped us understood why that caring and why understanding our past is so important to present and future progress. Her encyclopedia-like knowledge and deep repository of River Region memories will be sorely missed, as will Neeley’s warm personality, a welcoming nature that made her such an effective preserver and promoter of history.
Local Business Helps Homeless Veterans
A local company is lending its support to help homeless veterans. Turenne PharMed Co, a Montgomery pharmacy and medical supply business, donated personal hygiene goods and daily necessities to help a project organized by Junhyung Park, a Boy Scout and student at LAMP. Park collected these items to fill bags to give to homeless veterans. The bags were distributed during an early September event aimed at helping the veterans with health screenings, jobs and more. When people at Turenne PharMedCo heard about Park’s project, they decided to help the young man. The company’s employees donated about 1,000 items such as nonperishable food and hygiene products.
Dementia Friendly Alabama Joins Forces with Whole Foods
Every three seconds, a new case of Alzheimer’s is diagnosed in the world, and more than 91,000 Alabamians live with Alzheimer’s. To foster increased awareness and encourage dementia friendliness in the state of Alabama, The Central Alabama Aging Consortium, the local Area Agency on Aging, founded its Dementia Friendly Alabama (DFA) initiative in January of 2016. Earlier this year, DFA partnered with Whole Foods to host its first Memory Café, now held every second Friday of the month. Memory Cafés are social engagement opportunities for those living with dementia and their caregivers and give participants an opportunity to take a sensory tour of different sights, smells, sounds and tastes while in a safe and caring environment. There are different areas of focus for each Memory Café, but the common thread is ensuring attendees are not focused on the disease, but on having a good time. And Memory Cafes are only one facet of DFA’s services and resources. In addition, the organization offers dementia resource guides, matter of balance classes, memory screenings, Project LifeSaver (tracking device for loved-ones) and virtual dementia tours.