Kids First celebrates ‘miracle’ of serving youth
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
ALABASTER – Kids First Awareness Community Center volunteer and board member pastor Joe Raines often is asked about miracles similar to events described in the Bible.
“Some people ask me ‘Pastor Raines, why don’t we ever see miracles like you do in the Bible?’” Raines said during an Oct. 23 celebration dinner at Kids First. “Come to this place, and you will see a miracle. This is a miracle, what is happening here and what will continue to happen here.”
Raines joined dozens of parents, school leaders, Kids First volunteers and children at the center to celebrate Kids First’s decade of service in the community. For the past 10 years, Kids First has offered afterschool and summer programs to at-risk youth in Alabaster’s Simmsville community.
During the celebration, Kids First members sang for the visitors while an off-duty Alabaster police officer volunteer played the guitar. All in attendance then danced to “The Cupid Shuffle” in the street in front of the center.
“If you want to see God at work, come right here and see it for yourself,” Alabaster First United Methodist Church Pastor Sherry Harris said during the ceremony.
Alabaster Mayor Marty Handlon and Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers praised Kids First and its executive director, Cindy Hawkins, for her work in the community.
“Parents, never ever give up on your children. It is your God-given right to give your child unconditional love,” Vickers said. “Don’t apologize to anyone for giving that love to your children.
“It’s a passion of mine to make sure our schools are successful,” Vickers added. “You’ve got to believe in your kids and in our schools.”
Handlon echoed Vickers’ comments.
“Every time I speak about Cindy and the work she does here, I speak positively,” Handlon said. “We are all a big family, and it takes all of us to make our community successful.”
Hawkins said Kids First has been successful for the past 10 years because the community has rallied around the center.
“It’s almost like we all have the same heartbeat,” Hawkins said. “We are here today because we love each other.”