What better way to celebrate the past than to plan for the future?
Cynthia Wise, The Alabama Baptist Children's Home: The First One Hundred Years
PLANNING AHEAD // A five-year program is proposed to the convention with seven objectives:
- Increase the staff, especially in the social services area
- Renovate five of the old cottages
- Construct at least one additional cottage
- Establish group homes in other areas of the state
- Construct freezer and storage space for meats and vegetables
- Renovate the administration building to provide room for religious educational activities
- Consider establishing a branch home in north Alabama
GROUP HOME OPENS IN BIRMINGHAM // The Birmingham area sees its first group home, the "off-campus home," opened behind the former site of Howard College on 4th Avenue South.
MILTON AND MATT // Milton Curtis becomes business manager, a role that would eventually become known as Vice President of Administration. Along with his wife Matt, who serves as the ministry's dietician, he moves onto the campus at Troy.
MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO AID GROWTH // Birmingham attorney, businessman, and Samford University trustee Leo Bashinsky donates to ABCH an extra $155,000, added to a donation of stock valued at $200,000 he had previously given. At the time, the total gift of $355,000 is the largest ever made to the Children's Home.
DECATUR CAMPUS OPENS // On July 12, 1970, the Decatur campus is dedicated, allowing the ministry to reach far into north Alabama.
(Click on photos to enlarge)
A NEW HOME IN MOBILE // Also in 1970, the historic property of the former Protestant Children's Home in Mobile, which had been built in the 1840s on Dauphin Street, is offered to ABCH.
A NEW "GENERAL" SUPERINTENDENT // Having already served in various capacities with the Children's Homes, Hobson Shirey serves as Superintendent from 1960-1975. He had been the assistant to E.E. Cox from 1955 to 1960. In 1971, as facilities are added in Mobile, along with the new property in Decatur dedicated in 1970, Shirey's title became "General Superintendent," as each campus would have their own manager.
But in 1971, the building of the former Protestant Children's Home is sold, as Mr. Shirey feels it doesn't suit the needs of ABCH. With the money from the sale, ABCH is able to purchase two new homes in Mobile with plans for a branch home also.
"Pop" Shirey would be like a father figure to many children, attending many of their social and sporting events, taking them off to college, and giving away some of the girls in marriage. He retired in 1975, making way for Tom Collier, superintendent in Decatur, to take the helm of ABCH as the new General Superintendent.
GARDENDALE HOME ADDED // The existing Birmingham group home is sold, and another home in Gardendale is purchased.
ABCH FOSTER CARE BEGINS // Alabama Baptist Children's Homes becomes an officially-licensed child placement agency for foster care. Foster care has been discussed for years, and future Executive Director Paul Miller has done a graduate school research project on the possibility for foster care in the ministry of ABCH. It now comes to fruition as the first foster home is recruited in Troy.
ANOTHER PROVEN LEADER // A mathematician by trade, Mr. Collier came to ABCH from Redstone Arsenal to take the position of Assistant Superintendent in 1960. He would also serve as Decatur superintendent before becoming General Superintendent in 1975. All in all, Collier would serve children and families through ABCH for almost three decades, retiring in 1990.
SPECIAL NEEDS PROGRAM // Mobile Superintendent, Paul Miller, opens a program for children with special needs at two homes in midtown Mobile.
NORTHPORT GROUP HOME // A new ABCH group home opens in Tuscaloosa under the supervision of the Mobile office. This home would remain open until the late 90s.
MATERNITY HOME // Concerns over staggering numbers of abortions leads the 1984 state convention to a motion to begin a maternity home to help young, unmarried, and pregnant women in times of uncertainty. The next year, Alabama Baptists purchase a large home in Mobile for the purpose of establishing a maternity group home. The Alabama Woman's Missionary Union contribute furniture and appliances for the new facility.
While continuing to grow the foster care ministry in Mobile, Paul Miller and Louise Green in social services lead out in several new programs, including the maternity home, an adoption program, and an emergency shelter.