Brantwood has been serving children in Montgomery and the River Region for more than 90 years, helping neglected and abused children by providing them a home and supervising their education, health and social adjustment into the community. More than just a roof over their heads, Brantwood provides a place to belong to youngsters torn from their traditional family, often through traumatic circumstances. Established in 1917, Brantwood provides a safe, stable, structured environment for dependent, neglected and/or abused children. The Brantwood staff encourages the children to help one another, rely on each other for friendship and support, and to build a true sense of camaraderie. Children at Brantwood bond in a similar way as siblings in a traditional family.
An institution like this is so vital to our community. There are so many hurting young folks out there. Our Managing Shareholder Tom Methvin, served as past president of Brantwood’s board of directors. Tom says that “Through no fault of their own, many don’t have the same chance that others have. Without places like Brantwood, they’d have no place to turn.” There are a number of programs at Brantwood to serve up to 36 children in residence at the facility, ranging in age from 10 to 21. Every child at Brantwood participates in at least one program, which may include the Basic Residential Treatment Program, Transitional Living Program, Independent Living Program, and the Brantwood On-Site Educational Program. Brantwood also is designated a “Safe Place” and will provide emergency shelter for youth in need. I will explain these programs below:
- The Basic Residential Treatment Program is designed to provide treatment services to children whose needs cannot be met in their own home, traditional foster home, or therapeutic foster care home. It addresses the needs of children who may have been abused, neglected or exploited, and helps address behavioral and emotional problems that can result.
- The Transitional Living Program is designed to help older youths, between the ages of 16-19, move from dependent care to independent living situations. Young people in this program are housed in the Nolan Cottage on the Brantwood Children’s Home campus, but begin to assume responsibility for their own health and nutrition, and learn skills that will help them secure employment and housing, and to form rewarding relationships beyond the foster care system.
- The Independent Living Program provides services to older foster youth, ages 19 to 21, who are expected to “age out” of foster care either on or before their 21st birthday. Young people in this program usually live in an apartment or college housing. Brantwood may assist these young adults with financial support, independent living instruction, transportation, and supervision to help them make the complete transition out of the foster care system.
- Brantwood’s On-Site Educational program provides services for children in grades 5-8 in its on-site school housed in the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery Education Center building. BOSEP, staffed by an Administrative Teacher, Teacher and Teacher’s Aide, primarily serves children in residence at Brantwood Children’s Home, but also may serve other children in the foster care system as space is available.
In 2012, Brantwood was excited to add a high school educational program to its already existing middle school on the Brantwood campus. Now, Brantwood can offer individualized and tailored educational experiences for each student, including grades 9-12! The new educational program began holding classes in August.
Brantwood also operates the “Be a Friend” Mentoring Program, which recruits adults to serve as mentors and friends to children at Brantwood. The program is open to adults age 23 and older, who meet with their assigned youngster at least once a month on Brantwood’s campus and maintain regular communication through phone and regular mail throughout the month. All adults participating in this program must agree to a criminal history background check to ensure the safety of Brantwood’s young people.
What a difference Brantwood makes in the lives of Montgomery area children. This year, Brantwood helped Valencia celebrate her 21st birthday. Through no fault of their own, Valencia and her siblings were unable to remain in their home. She lived in many different places until she arrived at Brantwood, where she began to blossom with the love and support of her new Brantwood family. As the years passed, Valencia obtained her driver’s license, graduated from high school, earned a Dental Assistant Certificate, and eventually moved into her own apartment! Now she is a happy, healthy member of our community, and well on her way to a highly successful life.
According to Brantwood Executive Director Kim Herbert Valanica’s story is one representation of the many success stories throughout Brantwood’s history. Kim says “the lives of hurting youth are transformed while living at Brantwood.” The community is the heart of Brantwood Children’s Home. Supporting Brantwood helps the staff and volunteers fulfill the needs and dreams of the children who make their home there. Almost 50 percent of Brantwood’s funding in 2012 came from individual donations. Donors provide “quality of life” for the children, supplying more than the basic necessities. Financial donations make it possible to say “yes” to children who want to play basketball, go to camp and participate in many other activities.
I urge our readers, especially those in the River Region, to partner with Brantwood and donate to transform the life of an abused child into one that is loved, safe and healing. If you need more information about Brantwood, visit www.brantwoodchildrenshome.org.