Owens House plans expansion

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A major expansion of Owens Houses is under way.

With the help of large donations such as $50,000 from UPS and a $40,000 from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and numerous smaller donations, Owens House, located in Columbiana and which provides care for abused children, broke ground on a major expansion last Wednesday.

According to information provided by Helen Rardin, executive director of Owens House, the two-story addition to the current facility will include a large room for meetings, two offices for counseling and a handicap accessible restroom. It will also allow for a ramp at the back of the house.

H.C. &8220;Trey&8221; Ireland III, a lawyer who serves as president of the Owens House Board of Directors and who is a former member of the Shelby County Board of Education said, &8220;We’re excited about the expansion because it will allow us to hire additional counselors to provide additional counseling sessions to the children who are on our backlog.&8221;

He said the expansion will cost about $100,000 and will be complete in the spring.

He added,&8221; It’s a shame we have children who are abused who we cannot provide services to&8221; due to lack of space.

Other donations to the cause included $5,000 from the Daniel Foundation, $5,000 from the Hillcrest Foundation along with donations from several towns and cities in the county.

And recently the Heart of Dixie Harley Owners Group and Applebee’s sponsored a pancake breakfast to benefit the home.

The center provides a child-friendly home-like atmosphere for children who have been abused. It also makes the interview process and therapy much less traumatic.

According to Shelby County Department of Human Resources numbers in fiscal year 2004 there were 446 reports of child abuse/neglect involving 642 children.

And in 04/05 Owens House services included 157 forensic interviews and 1,514 counseling sessions.

Among those on hand for the groundbreaking were Rardin, Carole Robbins, administrative assistant of Owens House, Glenn Savage of UPS, Marlin Gallups of Gallups Construction LLC, Debbie Bundrum of UPS, Ireland, Curtis Rigney, treasurer of the board of directors of Owens House, Judy Galllups, Billy Jones, Chris Monceret and Beverly Miller al Owens House Board members, Mayor Theoangelo Perkins of Harpersville, Mayor George Roy of Calera, Mayor Allan Lowe of Columbiana, Mayor Mark McLaughlin of Westover, Annette Tyler of Westover, Jane Bailey of the Columbiana Library, and Bill Bostick, D.A.’s Office.

Grant funding for the operation of the center is furnished b y the Victim of Crime Act funds administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, Children’s First Trust funds, a formula grant from the state general fund; the National Children’s Alliance, Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama and various others