A $1.2 million gift recently made by supporters allows Arkansas Baptist Children's Homes and Family Ministries (ABCHomes) to expand its foster care ministry and impact major capital needs, according to agency leaders.
More than $767,000 of the generous gift was made by Charles and Genevieve Bonner of Conway, Ark. Winston Wolfe of Memphis donated $500,000. The trio are longtime supporters of ABCHomes.
Part of the Bonner's donation will help the organization meet the needs of foster children and provide startup money for the "Connected" Foster Care Ministry in Sebastian County. Sebastian County has more children in need of a foster home than any county in the state, according to Arkansas Division of Children and Families Services (DCFS) statistics.
The "Connected" program gives Baptist churches an opportunity to take an active role in ministry to foster care children, families and state foster care workers. It will help establish a structure for the foster community; recruit, facilitate and provide training for foster families, in accordance with DCFS; and facilitate multi-church partnerships. To date, Connected is ongoing in Pulaski, Mississippi and Miller counties.
"We are honored to give to the Baptist Children's Homes," said Charles Bonner. "We pray our gift will reach more children and youth who are growing up in today's world with so many distractions and many who come from difficult, difficult situations."
Through their gift, the Bonners also provided a $100,000 matching gift to the agency's annual Thanksgiving Offering. Additional funds from the Bonners and Wolfe's gift will help agency leadership pursue architectural consultation in consideration of major capital needs at the Arkansas Baptist Home for Children in Monticello, Ark.
"At Arkansas Baptist Children's Homes and Family Ministries we are overwhelmed with the generous gifts from longtime supporters, Mr. Winston Wolfe and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bonner," shared David Perry, ABCHomes executive director. "What a blessing to interact with Winston, Charles and Genevieve as they went through the process of providing these gifts. I think they are as excited about making the gifts as we are in receiving them."
Wolfe's gift honors the memory of his dear friend and former Arkansas Baptist Home for Children director, Royce Aston. Aston served as social services/campus director of the Monticello home from 1975 to 2002. The Bonners' gift is given in memory of their parents, Charles F. and Jewel Mae Bonner, and Jim and Ethel Goff, as well as their daughter, Ethelyn Bonner Gaither.
"Royce was like a brother to me," shared Wolfe. "I want to honor him with this gift ... and hopefully it will help children in need."
For information on ABCHomes or to schedule an interview, contact Stella Prather at 501-376-4791, ext. 5168, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arkansas Baptist Children's Homes and Family Ministries is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, which has been caring for children and families in crisis since 1894. Last year, ABCHomes impacted the lives of about 300 children and single mothers that lived at seven ABCHomes locations. Many of these residents come to ABCHomes from situations of severe abuse, abandonment or neglect. In addition, more than 2,200 counseling sessions were provided to individuals, couples and families around the state by five licensed ABCHomes counselors. To learn more about ABCHomes, go to abchomes.org.
This article appeared in the Arkansas Baptist News (arkansasbaptist.org), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist Convention.