Children’s Policy Council makes a difference in Selma, Dallas County

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Making a difference.

With a few willing hearts, strong wills and guidelines that will be the end result – a difference.

According to District Judge Bob Armstrong, the Dallas County Children’s Policy Council is Selma’s “best kept secret.”

The council is comprised of representatives from city and county resource centers and agencies and volunteers. Their duty by state law is to assess the needs of the county’s children, then find avenues to meet them.

“So many people going about a quiet effort to try to make a difference,” said Armstrong at the council’s meeting on Friday.

The council has in place many programs and activities for children and their families, such as mentoring.

“You don’t just get the child, you get the parent(s),” said Renda Thomas of the Juvenile Probation office.

Thomas was excited over recently bringing eight children into the mentoring program.

Also excited about their project was Fatherhood Initiative volunteer coordinator William Hasberry.

Hasberry is organizing a workshop for men seeking to be facilitators of the program to be held on July 19 and 20 at the Holy Ghost House of God Church off Highland Ave.

The goal of Fatherhood Initiative is to teach fathers how to be better parents.

Armstrong, who serves as chairman of the Policy Council, presented Hasberry with a Good Samaritan Award for his work with the council.

There were also awards for Lorraine Capers and Debra Howard who were absent on Friday.

Officer Carlos L. Jones with the Police Athletic League (P.A.L.), announced Basketball Games at the Park, held on Saturday at the Ronnie Sharpe Park on Voeglin.

Jones also spoke of the Gang Resistance Education and Training Program that will be coming to schools.

If asked, Jones said he is willing to speak at Vacation Bible Schools and other events.

The council’s funding comes from grants, state appropriations, gifts and donations, which are – along with volunteers – constantly sought.

The following is a partial listing of other programs, council members and contact information:

William Hasberry, Fatherhood Initiative Program, 874-2529

Renda Thomas, Dallas County Juvenile Probation Mentoring Program, 874-2529 or 874-2556

Cliff Chestnut, Child Policy Coordinator

Dennis Rutledge, Selma Crime Task Force

Tania Baldwin, Three Rivers Early Intervention, 1-800-723-0490 or (205) 759-1279

Tonya Gandy, offering support to special needs children, Cahaba Mental Health, 875-2100

Pastor Jemison, Prison Ministry and jobs referral program

The council meets monthly in the main courtroom of the Dallas County Courthouse.