Soldiering On: Godly Principles Armor Young Man with Resilience

Embrace Alabama Kids has provided homes, healing and hope to thousands of children and youth for 130 years. In its early days, Embrace Alabama Kids provided homes for orphans, but as society and issues have changed, so have the needs of the children. Today, most of the children and youth served by Embrace Alabama Kids have been abused and neglected. Many have experienced horrors that most of us can only imagine.

Today, through the eyes of a young man named Eric, here’s a glimpse of the impact this ministry and your support of it can make.

Eric came to live at the Settlement, one of Embrace Alabama Kids’s group homes for teenage boys, when he was 13 and starting the 8th grade. His father was dead, his mother was mentally ill and addicted to drugs, and she had lost custody of Eric and his brother and sister.

Like most of the kids who come to Embrace Alabama Kids, Eric was angry when he arrived. After all, he was in foster care because the person who was supposed to love him the most couldn’t – or wouldn’t.

Most of us, thankfully, can’t fully imagine the emotions Eric was feeling, but we may have gotten a tiny glimpse of it during this pandemic. Since March, things have felt a bit out of control. We didn’t know what the next few weeks or months would bring, and we still don’t. We can’t imagine how we’ll be affected long-term, and we’re uncertain about the ramifications this may have on the future.

These are struggles that our foster children and youth have faced for so long – a loss of control, fear of what the future holds, feelings of uncertainty and helplessness.

That’s why Embrace Alabama Kids makes sure that the kids in their care receive a strong spiritual foundation. They go to church, they read the Bible, they participate in Bible School, they pray – as a group and individually – and they grow in their faith.

In order to give Eric an outlet for his frustrations, the Embrace Alabama Kids staff got him involved in sports. He played football and basketball and ran track. His grades improved. He started to bond with the other boys in the home, and for the first time in a long time, Eric felt like he belonged.

But still, he couldn’t quite find his way. After graduation, he floundered a bit. He tried community college, but it wasn’t a good fit. Since one of Eric’s mentors at the group home was a staff member who had been a career military man, Eric decided to enlist in the Army, and he has finally found his calling.

Just before he graduated from Fort Benning, Eric sent a letter to his brothers in the group home. I want to read part of that letter today, so you that you can hear, in Eric’s own words, what Embrace Alabama Kids has meant to him:

Dear Settlement Brothers:

This whole experience has been a huge change to me mentally, physically, and spiritually.  I’ve learned that nobody in this world is ready to hand you anything, you have to work your (butt) off and go get it.

Most importantly, I found a friend that would NEVER leave my side in any situation and that’s GOD.  Whenever I had nobody to turn to, He was right there protecting me the entire time!  He’ll never leave you or forsake you, even when you reach your lowest points.

I appreciate everything that Embrace Alabama Kids has done for me.  You all helped shape me into the man I’m becoming and ya’ll are the reason I am physically and mentally fit to be part of one of the strongest fighting forces in the world.

I wouldn’t trade you guys for anything in the world, and Mr. John, Mrs. Joy, Mrs. Lisa, Mr. Scott and Mr. Leon are the foundation of the future of every child that comes through the Settlement.  I’m blessed to have had great role models in my life.

I appreciate every punishment I received, every dish I had to soak, every dollar I was told to save, every decision that was supported, and every time they told me “no.”

I love you guys and I will see you at graduation.  By the time ya’ll get this I will be officially a soldier in the United States Army.

Love, Private White

As you can tell, the Children’s Home helped Eric grow from a scared, angry boy to a proud, God-fearing soldier  – and your support of this amazing ministry made it happen. Thank you for being a part of his story and for opening your hearts and your wallets for the many other “Erics” whose lives will be changed by Embrace Alabama Kids.


Montgomery Ministry Affiliates with Embrace Alabama Kids

Mary Ellen’s Hearth (MEH) at Nellie Burge Community Center, a ministry focused on serving homeless women and children, is now an affiliate of the Embrace Alabama Kids.

As a result of the affiliation, Embrace Alabama Kids will carry out the day-to-day operations at the ministry’s Montgomery-based facility that provides safe living space for ten homeless moms and up to 20 children. While addressing the adversity these mothers face in regaining their independence, they’re provided a safe home along with their children.

With collaboration and synergy as the driving forces that brought both organizations into a series of discussions, it was soon determined that they could make a greater impact and further their respective missions by working together. Both ministries have Methodist roots and both have wide-ranging support across Central Alabama.

“Mary Ellen’s Hearth’s mission and values are closely aligned with ours,” said Dr. Blake Horne, Embrace Alabama Kids President & CEO. “We are both faith-based organizations with Methodist roots and share a focus on providing homes, healing and hope to vulnerable populations.”

Mothers at Mary Ellen’s Hearth are equipped with the tools and resources needed to help their children learn and grow.

With this impactful program becoming a part of Embrace Alabama Kid’s continuum of services, Embrace Alabama Kids says donors who choose to give to its ministry can know their support extends further than it did before. With the stage set for a fruitful affiliation, the future of Mary Ellen’s Hearth is much more promising even amidst a hard-hit economy.

“We look forward to being able to provide additional staff and programming resources that weren’t previously available to Mary Ellen’s Hearth,” said Dr. Horne. “At the end of the day, it’s about serving the vulnerable and sharing God’s unconditional love, and we couldn’t be more optimistic about expanding our ability to do that through this new affiliation.”

Mary Ellen’s Hearth at Nellie Burge Community Center is funded in part by the River Region United Way, community partners and individual donors.