The Heart Gallery showcases 90 photos of children ages 5 through 17 who are waiting to be adopted. But, in general, Arkansas has a total of 600 children who are in need of adoption.
BILLY JEAN LOUIS
Project Zero has teamed up with The CALL of Baxter County to bring the Heart Gallery to Mountain Home, in an effort to spread awareness on the number of Arkansas children needing to be adopted.
People will notice the Heart Gallery, as they step foot into the Donald W. Reynolds Library lobby. The Heart Gallery showcases 90 photos of Arkansas children ages 5 to 17, who are waiting to be adopted. But that’s just a small portion of children needing a parent.
In general, Arkansas has 600 children in need of adoption, according to Tenille Rauls, coordinator for The CALL of Baxter County.
Twin Lakes Area residents have free access to the gallery Monday through Sunday during the operating hours of the library. Call the library at 508-0987 for hours of operation.
The display has already kicked off and will through Tuesday. There are tangible reminders at the display. People can grab one to commit to pray for a child, so that he or she can find a family.
According to the Project Zero’s website, the Arkansas Heart Gallery “is a collection of beautiful photographs of waiting children and teens, taken by professional photographers from every corner of our state.”
The site added that “along with the online Heart Gallery, Project Zero has free-standing exhibits that travel to churches and businesses all over our state.”
For the last couple of years, events coordinator for The CALL Shaunda Goodwin has helped with the Heart Gallery.
This is the fourth year The CALL, which is celebrating its five-year anniversary, has organized the display. The agency has grown since it launched in Baxter County, opening 23 foster homes.
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Rauls said the agency has helped keep more than 250 Baxter County children in the county — and over 10 children have been adopted from Baxter County families.
“It’s been amazing to see what God has done in the last five years,” she said.
She’s planning a thank-you breakfast for area pastors who’ve helped the agency. Breakfast will be served in the Knox room at the library starting at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The purpose of the display is to raise awareness of the need for more adoptive parents and to provide people in the Twin Lakes Area the opportunity to see children who are waiting to be adopted, Rauls stressed.
Anyone interested in adopting a child must be 21 years old. The CALL will host an informational meeting some time in January. For more information, call (870) 424-4211.
The agency helps with the adoption process. It does not place the children. It works with the public, serving as a liaison between the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
“We’re considered a bridge organization,” Rauls said. “We are a bridge to help people work with the state government agency DCFS.”
The CALL is a nonprofit that shines the light on the need for foster and adoptive parents while also educating those parents on how to care for children who’ve been through trauma, Rauls said. The nonprofit supports and encourages those families.
“Our goal is to have more than enough families,” Rauls said. “We want to have families match with what that child needs — not just a home but to answer the children’s need.”
Between eight to 10 children — 6 or older — in Baxter County are waiting to be adopted. There are around 16 foster homes that are open for placement.
“We have 44 kids in care in Baxter County,” Rauls said. “And if we’re only having 16 homes that are available to take kids, you can see that there’s a huge shortage.”
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