Vineyard Family Services Executive Director Ward Williams speaks during the annual Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce prayer breakfast on Nov. 20 at the Pelham Civic Complex. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

Archived Story

Breakfast focuses on giving back

Published 10:47am Tuesday, November 20, 2012

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The founder of Vineyard Family Services encouraged members of the Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce to remember those less fortunate this holiday season during the chamber’s annual prayer breakfast on Nov. 20 at the Pelham Civic Complex.

During the breakfast, which is held every year a few days before Thanksgiving Day, Vineyard Family Services Executive Director Ward Williams explained his organization’s programs and encouraged Shelby County residents to give back to those less fortunate.

“If everyone in this group leaves here today and goes out and makes a difference, it will impact those around us,” Ward told the group of about 100 gathered at the Civic Complex. “Think about what you can do to help the nonprofits here. The holidays are when some people are hurting the most.”

Vineyard Family Services provides programs aimed at building strong fathers and keeping families together, and also operates the Backpack Buddies program to allow local children on free and reduced lunches to eat on nights and weekends.

Ward said the organization’s fatherhood programs are personal to him, as he grew up in a home without his father. Studies have linked fatherless homes with higher rates of crime, drug usage and poverty rates among children, Ward said.

“If we think about it, a lot of issues in our society today can be traced to fatherless homes and a breakdown of the family,” Ward said, noting about 24 million American children currently live in homes without their fathers.

The Backpack Buddies program helps the more than 8,000 Shelby County children who are on the free and reduced lunch program at school. Many children on the free and reduced lunch program may not otherwise have meals during the nights and weekends without the Backpack Buddies program, Ward said.

During the prayer breakfast, which was sponsored by Legacy Community Federal Credit Union and the Jimmy Hale Mission, the Pelham Fire Department colorguard presented the colors, Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven offered the opening prayer and Leslie Hughes recited George Washington’s prayer for the nation.

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