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Safe Families for Children gala raises funds, awareness for local needs

On Monday night, laughter roared through Del’avant Event Center as Christian comedian Mike Williams entertained a full house at the first ever Our Children, Our Future Gala.

The event aimed to raise awareness and funding for Safe Families for Children, a volunteer-driven Christian non-profit that helps families in crisis. 

“Being in relationships with families who are struggling [is important],” said Candi Gibson, the coordinator of Safe Families for Children of West Georgia. “Change happens through relationships, and what better way than the body of Christ to be the safety net for families who are struggling and needing help that do not have a support system and a safety net up under them.”

Gibson said that as a Christian, she feels like she is called to help children and families in need, and she hopes that through events like the one on Monday, more community members will also answer the call to help local families. 

“I believe Christ called us to be those safety nets, and to see that happening in our community on this scale is amazing,” Gibson said. “We have amazing churches and community.”

During the roughly three years that the program has been in place locally, there have been 108 placements in Troup County. In Troup County, the SFFC operates under the Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services umbrella, and Twin Cedars Executive Director Sheri Cody said that she has seen the program have a huge impact on local families.

“Safe Families keeps kids from ever going into [foster care] to begin with, so it is different from anything that I’m aware of that is being done here in this community,” Cody said. “It is one of the most significant Christian movements in the country because it is the church saying, ‘we’re going to take care of the little children,’ and not just little children — teens too. We’ve had teens in the Safe Families program.”

During the gala, attendees were encouraged to pray over what they should do in support of the program and in support of local families.

“The primary goal was to invite people to become monthly partners with Safe Families, to try to get families and churches to see that this is a ministry that they can support and they can carry on into the future,” said Jennifer Shawa, director of development for Twin Cedars. “We did have grant funding that started the program, but it is time to invite the larger community to be part of sustaining it, and then be part of providing that rescue too.”

Cody said that the program creates a partnership between parents and the church, and while the program has shown solid growth since it began, Cody said that the work at SFFC is just getting started. In the future, she hopes SFFC will accomplish two major goals.

“One is we don’t want to see any child in Troup County go into foster care,” Cody said. “Two is, we’d like to see every church in Troup County become a Safe Families church. Those are the big goals.”

To learn more about SFFC, visit Twincedars.org/program/safe-families-children/, call (706) 616-8028, email SFFCInfo@twincedars.org or visit the Twin Cedars Coleman Center at 701 Lincoln Street in LaGrange.