President Mark Killingsworth presided over today’s meeting. Richard Topp then provided the opening prayer and Mark led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. The meeting was held at the Holiday Inn North and on Zoom.
Mark announced that all of the coats for children that were collected have been delivered to the United Way of Southeast Mississippi. Mark then introduced todays guest speaker Dr. Michael Garrett. Michael is the CEO and Director of Homes of Hope for Children. He started the group home fourteen years ago. The first cottage was opened in 2010. There are now four cottages housing 26 children. Additionally, Homes of Hope has two duplexes that serve as a transitional home for their children who have graduated from high school. Each cottage has a Christian couple that serves as group home parents. Two of their residents have already graduated from high school and another two will graduate next year. All are going to university.
Club President Mark Killingsworth (left) and Dr. Michael Garrett from Homes of Hope.
Dr. Garrett has several concerns with the state’s Child Protection Services (CPS). Home of Hope for Children does not accept state money nor does it have to abide by the CPS rules and regulations. The state’s program requires that no child can stay in a group home or with foster parents longer than six months. Additionally, the state splits sibling units up, often in several locations across the state. The average child up for adoption in our state will see three homes on the average every fourteen months. There are more than 300 children up for adoption across our state.
Dr. Garrett notes that the state’s CPS has given passing grades to bad homes. In fact, a local judge placed four siblings at Homes of Hope. They were living in a home of abuse and neglect. It was a home the CPS had given a passing grade. The parents actually went to jail and the children had nowhere to go.
Homes of Hope files abuse charges and then proceeds to court to get the children placed in their facility. To date, they have not lost a single case.
Homes of Hope believes that children should remain with their siblings, should have consistency, and should have as normal of a family experience as possible. They spend between $38,000 and $39,000 per child each year. All of the money spent comes from private companies, foundations and/or individuals.
Mark thanked Dr. Garrett for the information and then presented Homes of Hope with checks totaling almost $2,000. There being no further business to come before the club, Mark adjourned the meeting with our motto, “Service Above Self.”