The King's Home provides help today and hope for tomorrow
Published: September 30, 2014
By: Paige Townley
For more than 40 years, the King’s Home has provided help, hope and hospitality to others in the community when they need it most. The nonprofit organization operates a variety of services that are dedicated to youth, women and mothers and children experiencing difficult or extreme circumstances, such as abuse, abandonment and homelessness.
“We’re all about hope and opportunity,” says Lew Burdette, president of King’s Home. “We want to be that hope and opportunity that moms and teenagers maybe have never had before.”
With six campuses located in Jefferson, Shelby, Tuscaloosa and Blount counties, the King’s Home operates 22 total residential group homes. Twelve of these homes are dedicated to at-risk youth. Approximately 98 percent of the youth at King’s Home, which includes boys and girls ages 10 to 21, have suffered some sort of abuse, neglect or abandonment
“We are trying to instill in them that even though life hasn’t treated them fairly, they have the rest of their lives in front of them and it’s really what they make out of it from this point forward,” Burdette says. “We try to point them towards hope and goals and give them time and space to heal from the abuse and the deep wounds that come with it.”
To help each child, the King’s Home provides spiritual development, educational assistance and counseling. The children are also placed in loving homes that include parents and their own biological children. “We are trying to teach them safe, loving boundaries, which is a healthy structure for life,” Burdette explains. “Our model is to have loving homes with loving house parents we call family teaching parents. That shows the youth what a family looks like – a loving mom and dad interacting with each other, loving each other. These youth have never had that modeled for them. In many cases, if you were abused as a kid you will be an abuser as an adult because you’ve never learned healthy living or appropriate relationships. We want to see that cycle broken.”
Living in a home with a family also teaches youth many life skills that so many take for granted. “We are teaching every single day, many times just basic things like good table manners, how to greet someone and personal hygiene,” says Burdette. “We also teach other life skills, like how to be successful financially and budget wisely. We want them to be successful in every area.”
To help youth develop and one day be independent, maybe even attend college, workers at King’s Home meet every week to discuss each child’s goals and how they are developing. “We want every kid to be successful, so we are intentional about that as a team,” Burdette says. “No child is going to be left behind here. We know it’s no one’s dream to live at King’s Home. We want them to one day live independently, so we challenge them to set goals and achieve them and really work for success.”
King’s Home also hosts nine homes that are dedicated to women and mothers and children who are fleeing abuse and domestic violence. In addition to offering a safe place to live, King’s Home provides food, medical expenses, counseling, childcare and educational support. “We sit down with the women and look at what they have been through and encourage them to figure out what they want to do and what they want their future to look like,” says Liz Sherrell, the King’s Home’s operations director. “We help them decide on some goals, both short term and long term, and then we help them achieve them.”
For many women, those goals are all about getting a job. To make that process as stress free as possible, King’s Home helps the women create resumes, prepare for interviews and even transport them to and from interviews. “We had one mom who was actually locked in a closet with her three children for days at a time,” Burdette says. “The physical abuse was horrible and when she came to us she shared that her dream was to go to college. She ended up getting her masters degree in accounting and then a high-paying job as an accountant. She has been out of our program for more than five years now and is doing great and providing a great life for her children. All she needed was a chance.”
With so many lives impacted every year – King’s Home served 328 residents last year alone – motivation to continue providing life-changing compassion, love and hope is never hard to find. “It’s amazing to see God at work transforming lives,” Burdette says. “That’s the most rewarding part for us—to see the residents that come to us with hurt and suffering and disappointment and find hope and opportunity.”
Paige Townley is a freelance writer.