Palmer Home for Children president and CEO Drake Bassett talks with Rotary Club members Tuesday afternoon after speaking to the group about the mission of the organization and its newest ventures at Lion Hills Center and Golf Course. Photo by: Mary Alice Weeks/Dispatch Staff
May 28, 2014 9:54:11 AM
Palmer Home for Children has made Jonah's Journey, a Tennessee-based organization that finds temporary or long-term care for children of incarcerated mothers, part of its ministry.
The two organizations began discussing a possible integration of their services in the fall of 2013. The move became official in early March, according to Robert Farris, vice president of strategic initiatives with Palmer Home.
"It was a ministry that fit culturally with Palmer Home's culture of being a faith-based ministry dedicated to providing a safe place for children," Farris said.
Palmer Home, based in Columbus, provides residential care for children and introduces them to "the love of God through service," according to its website. The ministry currently serves nearly 100 children, from infants through college-age.
Jonah's Journey was founded in Nashville, Tennessee, roughly seven years ago by LeAllison Whittinghill. Since then, the organization has found homes for an estimated 100 children whose mothers are in prison, according to Whittinghill.
"Partnering with Palmer Home for Children provides structure and operational leadership," she said. "We are excited to join this mission and make this journey together."
Jonah's Journey began after Whittinghill started volunteering at a Tennessee prison on a weekly basis. Doing that, she learned that the only option for women who gave birth to babies while incarcerated was state-run foster care. She began helping pregnant prisoners place their children in safe homes. It is a small organization, run by four women, Farris said.
Parents chosen to foster the children are trained and certified. They are required to visit the mothers with the children twice a month. When the mothers are released from prison and are ready, they are reunited, sometimes permanently.
Palmer Home decided to make the move to expand its purpose both in terms of children it serves and geographically, Farris said.
Drake Bassett, president and CEO of Palmer Home, agreed.
"Our mission is to help children in need and we've been looking for the right opportunity to extend our reach," Bassett said. "Jonah's Journey has demonstrated success in connecting children in need with a Christian home. That's what we do."
Palmer Home officials say that by them providing administrative and marketing support, Jonah's Journey will offer more opportunities to children in need.
"The marriage of these two organizations will work to multiply these success stories and provide more loving homes across the South for hurting children in need of a safe home," Leon Manning, vice president of marketing with Palmer Home, said in a press release.
Farris said organizations similar to Jonah's Journey in Alabama, Pennsylvania and Colorado have contacted Palmer Home interested in integrating.
For more information on Jonah's Journey visit jonahsjourney.org. For more information on Palmer Home visit palmerhome.org.
William Browning was managing editor for The Dispatch until June 2016.
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