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Hope floats for Hilltop homes

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
July 13, 2001
Lauderdale County supervisors are considering a proposal to close the Hilltop Houses for Boys and Girls with the Hope For Children Foundation taking over their work.
Carrie Ponder, Hope for Children executive director, suggested combining the services when she met with supervisors Thursday. She pointed out some advantages in joining the two programs.
The Hilltop Houses are group home for abandoned, neglected, abused and/or status-offenders children. The boys home was opened in 1978 while the girls home was opened in 1986.
Ponder said combining the two would also eliminate competition for the same resources and the same referrals.
She briefed supervisors on staff to be employed at the Hope for Children campus. She outlined special services to be offered, including the recruiting and training of foster families, training for parents, and leadership training to help get children involved civic projects.
She added that Hope for Children will have grant writers on staff to help secure funding and stressed the importance of Sela Ward's efforts in funding the project. She said Ward had a meeting scheduled that day with a major corporation to discuss the company's funding Hope for Children as a charity.
When opened, the children at Hope For Children will have a beautiful and modern campus with up-to-date computer systems and access to Meridian public schools' software, she said.
Ponder asked that supervisors continue to provide at least the annual $70,000 they budget for the Hilltop Houses. She said she would work with supervisors to try to retain Hilltop employees.
She said Hope for Children staff members will work to keep siblings together because they have more room at least 48 beds available as compared to Hilltop's six beds for girls and 12 for boys.
Hilltop is currently housing five girls and eight boys.
Supervisors expressed interest in the matter. If they decide to do it, they have until Oct. 1 to get the kinks straightened out. Oct. 1 is both the projected opening date for Hope for Children and the start of a new fiscal year for the county.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.ned out. Oct. 1 is both the projected opening date for Hope for Children and the start of a new fiscal year for the county.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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