POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - A non-profit group in Randolph County hopes to fill a need in the Arkansas foster care system.
"There's no secret there's a foster care problem in Arkansas and most people don't want to take in teenage boys," Neal Harwell said.
Harwell, board president of Bridge of Hope Ministries told Region 8 News that their goal is to teach the boys necessary life skills before adulthood; more importantly though, they want to give the boys a stable, secure home.
In just two years, what started out as an idea blossomed into reality.
"We've done a lot in the short time that we've been around. Now we're pretty close to opening up a home for a few boys."
Harwell said the idea to help alleviate the foster care system came to them a couple years ago.
"We all got together and went to our local DHS office and asked what the need was," Harwell said.
"We discovered the boys are the hardest to place in foster care, especially teenagers," Board of Hope Treasurer Amy Holt said.
The mission to change that started soon after.
"We've built a home probably big enough to house five to seven boys," Holt said.
"We first thought there might be some negativity with the stigma that comes along with group homes and foster children and teenage boys," Harwell said
However, Holt said the community has been supportive of their dream.
"Most of the people we talk to you were just amazed that we're doing this," Holt said.
Their second annual fundraiser, which takes place January 23, sold out.
More than 200 people purchased tickets to help a group that's working to make a difference in the lives of teenage boys in foster care.
"We want to prepare them for adulthood. Once they turn 18, it's not a magic number that they're mature & prepared to be adults," Harwell said. "One of our goals is stability; for the boys to stay here awhile & make some attachments."
The non-profit is in the process of building a home right outside of Pocahontas city limits.
Harwell said since starting up their non-profit organization, they've received generous donations from people in the area.
You can also mail donations to P.O. Box 821, Pocahontas Arkansas 72455.
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