SUMITON – Tabatha Smith, president of the Walker County Foster and Adoptive Parents Association, said even when someone is not serving as a foster parent, they can still help with birthdays or …
SUMITON – Tabatha Smith, president of the Walker County Foster and Adoptive Parents Association, said even when someone is not serving as a foster parent, they can still help with birthdays or one-night or weekend stays.
Smith spoke Tuesday at the monthly East Walker Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Smith, the wife of Walker County Sheriff Nick Smith, has served as president of the organization for the past six years and spoke to the gathering about fostering and adopting children.
“This issue is very dear to my heart,” Smith said. "Children come into the foster system through the Department of Human Resources. Drugs, neglect, physical, and sexual abuse can figure into the equation."
The number of children in the fostering system grew dramatically last year, according to Smith. “This increase is due to the growing drug problem in the area,” she said.
The problem facing children is complex. When Smith talks to community and church organizations, people often tell her, “I just couldn’t do that.” Or “I would get too attached.” Smith said the fostering system needs people who care. “You will get attached. It will be hard, and you will grieve,” she said. But foster care isn’t for those who won’t get attached and won’t grieve, according to Smith. “It’s for the people who will,” she said.
The families that don’t want to foster but still want to be involved can help in other ways, according to Smith. People can take foster children for a night or weekend to give foster parents a respite.
Sometimes children come into the system on their birthdays. There are churches and other groups that help by donating birthday boxes for foster children. This usually involves some small gifts for the child and a birthday cake. Smith explained that the children need mentors to help them understand that there are those who care. There are many ways the community can help with children in the foster system, according to Smith.
People interested in getting involved can visit the Walker County Foster and Adoptive Parents Association Facebook page and send a message to find out how to help.
In other action, the chamber:
•heard Chamber director Chee-Vee Whitfield report that District 4 County Commissioner Stephen Aderholt had a schedule conflict which prevented him from attending Tuesday meeting. He will attend the March meeting and make a check presentation.
•heard Whitfield welcome Jeremy Pate, a member of the Cordova Economic and Industrial Development Authority. Pate and six other members were recently appointed by Mayor Drew Gilbert and the Cordova City Council following a series of resignations from previous board members. They will be working to get new business to consider Cordova.
•heard Whitfield remind those gathered that the 2019 membership dues are now due.
•heard the first quarterly meet-and-greet is tentatively scheduled for Cordova on March 19 at noon. Once this date is confirmed, she will send out an email. Whitfield also encouraged more members to attend these functions to show support for the Chamber. Chamber President Doug Ragsdale, encouraged everyone to attend and invite someone to these functions to help raise the visibility of the chamber’s work in the surrounding communities.
The chamber's 2019 Golf Tournament is scheduled for Friday, May 31, and the price for entering has dropped to $35 for individuals and $140 for a team. This price includes lunch and range balls, according to organizer Clay Grice. The lower prices should encourage more players to participate this year.