Harris Home for Children in need of support

Noon Interviews

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Harris Home for Children has served the community for 67 years, touching nearly a million lives.

It is more than just a foster home; the United Way partner agency is a private, non-profit providing full-time foster care services and crisis support for neglected children and teenagers not just in Huntsville, but around the state of Alabama.

Harris Home for Children is also the only emergency crisis service in the state so when children unexpectedly find themselves without a safe space to sleep, or wondering where their next meal will come from, Harris Home for Children is the only place to turn.

It provides short term (60 day maximum) emergency placement service for youth who need immediate out-of-home care, giving them room and board in a structured, safe, and nurturing environment with trained staff. These staff members promote educational and social growth, and community-based services including supportive counseling, recreation, basic living skills training, and behavior management.

The basic care residential program provides services for both male and female adolescents with mild emotional and/or behavioral problems. These young men and women are educated on how to replace negative behaviors with appropriate self-discipline behaviors. The goal is to have them “graduate” within a year, moving back home with their families, to foster homes or into the Harris Home for Children transitional living program.

Transitional living is for young adults, male and female, whose needs can be met in a family-style setting while they are educated on how to work through the problems of adolescence and young adulthood. The residents live in a cottage-like home, with each home having a houseparent. Emphasis is placed on preparing these youths for independent living and self-sufficiency, as they learn appropriate social and interpersonal skills. Trained staff members teach them how to cook, clean, drive, and maintain bank accounts as a part of their life-skills training.

Harris Home for Children also recognizes that our children may not be ready to live independently the moment they turn 18. This is where the independent living program comes in. Young men and women, ages 18-21, who are full-time college students or are gainfully employed, live in apartments subsidized by the Harris Home. Supervision and financial responsibility are gradually reduced as self-sufficiency is demonstrated. Objectives are put in place so that the youth, through training and experiential living, master independence and become self-sufficient adults.

Because Harris Home for Children is so well-established, Executive Director Reggie McKenzie says many people assume they are on solid ground. In fact, funding is a daily concern, especially since the pandemic.

McKenzie says in the last year, a dozen similar agencies in Alabama have closed. Harris Home for Children has managed to keep the doors open but community support is critical.

For example, they serve more than 22,000 meals a year and use enough laundry soap for more than 4,000 loads of laundry.

Some of the “most needed” items are:

• Perishable and Nonperishable Food Items
• Cleaning Supplies
• Personal Hygiene Products
• Bath Towels and Washcloths
• Gift Cards
• School Supplies

If you would like to arrange to make a donation or want to learn more about other special needs,
please call Mr. Phillip Barton at (256) 837-0332 or email pbarton@harrishomeforchildren.org

You can also donate directly online.

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