Family Preservation Program Strengthens AL Family

For Alexis and Tyler, a day of fishing with their family is about much more than fish. It’s a time to celebrate being together and overcoming the obstacles that nearly drove them apart.

In 2019, after some poor decisions and difficult circumstances, their children were placed with relatives for five months. With the help of UMCH’s Family Preservation program, an in-home intervention program for families in crisis, the couple is grateful to have their children home again.

“It’s one of the worst things you can be faced with as a family, and we made it through that,” Alexis said. “The program allowed me to truly have my family back together. I can’t even put into words how grateful I am.”
The Department of Human Resources got involved with the family last February due to the couple’s past substance abuse history. Their son, who is from Alexis’ previous relationship, was placed with his grandparents, while their daughter went to stay with hers. “It was very hard having them living in separate places,” Alexis said. “They’re very close, and not only were they away from us, they were away from each other.”

Faced with losing their children, Alexis and Tyler met all of their goals, had clean drug tests and worked hard to reunite their family. Before the family was reunited, however, the couple was hit by a drunk driver. Both were injured and Alexis faced multiple surgeries. “They were both out of work for several months,” said Amanda Freeman, the couple’s intervention specialist. “There were a lot of stressors.”

The wreck meant the family was apart even longer. “It was supposed to be a short separation, which is why we agreed to let the kids go to separate homes,” said Alexis, who was in a wheelchair for months. “Because of my injuries, I couldn’t take care of my kids and they didn’t come home until July.”

Not long after the children returned home, Tyler turned himself in for a prior probation
violation and went to jail for 60 days.

“I couldn’t have gotten through it all without Amanda,” Alexis said. “She made sure I kept calm and sane.”
The Family Preservation program is designed to keep families together in safe, loving homes. Staff members meet with families at least twice a month for several months and help parents develop the necessary skills to parent more effectively and to keep their children safe. The program, offered in Alabama and Northwest Florida, has a 95 percent success rate.

“Knowing that there is someone out where who actually cares enough to spend the time with them and teach them makes all the difference.”

“A lot of times when families are in a bad situation, people just talk at them instead of with them,” Freeman said. “Knowing that there is someone out there who actually cares enough to spend the time with them and teach them makes all the difference. To have someone listen and give feedback is one of the biggest reasons for the success rates.”

Alexis and Tyler love their children and were already doing a lot of things right, Freeman said. She helped them identify triggers that led to the drug use and taught them coping techniques. They also focused on parenting techniques, setting boundaries and establishing routines.

“All the things she taught us were very helpful,” Alexis said, adding that she and her husband have grown stronger together. “Amanda and UMCH always had our best interests at heart. She didn’t focus on the negative parts. She helped our family be the best version of us.”

Photo Caption: Former participants in UMCH’s Family Preservation program Tyler Hines and Alexis Campbell and their two children.

Supporters Take to Facebook with Fundraising

The widely popular social media platform, Facebook, receives both praise and criticism.

However, among the long list of pros is one function that has significantly aided children served by the United Methodist Children’s Home (UMCH). Since made available to UMCH in November 2019, many supporters have used their birthdays as opportunities to benefit kids in UMCH’s care.

“The birthday fundraiser is a selfless act of kindness that we would not expect but are regularly receiving now,” said Rebecca Morris, Senior Vice President of External Affairs. “The fact that anyone would redirect the attention most of us enjoy receiving on birthdays toward vulnerable children, who often go under the radar, is simply remarkable and selfless,” she added.

Facebook is generous in its administration of the birthday fundraiser capability as well, waiving any administrative fees for the transfer of funds. For charities such as UMCH, a contributor’s entire gift goes directly to the charity benefited. Prompted by an appreciation for the care UMCH provides vulnerable kids, Alex Alewine set up a birthday fundraiser on Facebook to benefit UMCH ­— the first one hosted since UMCH acquired approval for the function.

“I think the Facebook fundraisers work because they reach so many people, and a lot of people can give just ten dollars, and before long you have a fair amount of funds you’ve raised,” Alex said. “My husband and I believe that it is the Church’s responsibility to serve the needs of our communities,” she added.

“This is a ministry we feel good about donating to, we see that the needs are there, and we think UMCH is meeting those needs.”

Photo Caption: Alex Alewine and her husband, Hank, are passionate supporters of the United Methodist Children’s Home.