Children’s Homes’ Party at the Parks event celebrates, raises awareness of foster care

Looking around at all the different colors of face paint she had to choose from, a little girl couldn’t decide what design she wanted Kym Mitchell to paint on her face.

Mitchell — a volunteer at the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries’ (ABCH) annual Party at the Parks event May 6 in Birmingham — said the little girl then asked, “Can I just have ‘ABCH’ on my cheek?”

It’s those little interactions that encourage volunteers and ABCH staff and remind them of what their mission is at events like this — to celebrate the children and families God has placed in their care.

As ABCH President and CEO Rod Marshall describes the event: “Party at the Parks is an opportunity to celebrate the wonderful ministry that happens every day for our foster parents, Campus Care Homes and Family Care Homes.”

Party at the Parks got started in 2015 by a group of young adult volunteers who wanted to celebrate ABCH foster families while raising awareness about foster care. The resulting annual event is free and open to the public, and is put on by ABCH’s Birmingham Regional Advisory Board, a volunteer group of young leaders in the community.

Current members of the Regional Advisory Board are Scott Johnson, Buck Poole, Anna Leigh Marshall and Heather Hancock.

At this year’s Party at the Parks, children bounced around inflatables, munched on popcorn and snow cones and enjoyed family-style music. Face painting, of course, also was a highlight of the day.

And many foster families were among the more than 2,000 participants at Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham.

Michelle Drashman Glassford, ABCH director of communications, said, “Nearly 50 of our families got to attend, mostly from the Birmingham area, but many of our kids from our Campus Care homes in Decatur and some from Oxford foster care were also there.”

Many moms and children in Family Care from Alabaster and Gardendale also participated, she added.

Rod Marshall said, “It was a delight to see so many kids having so much fun.”

But none of it would have been possible without the volunteers like Kym Mitchell from area churches and businesses, Glassford said.

“We could not have done it without those 65 hands, feet and hearts to serve. Most were from area churches and some were from area businesses.”

Also making the event a reality were the individuals, churches and businesses that provided funding. Of the 18 sponsors, the top six were Skin DX Group, PC; Lawton Real Estate; Harmon Dennis Bradshaw, Inc.;  CrossPoint Church; Blue Dawg; and Water Way Distributing Co, Inc.

Foster families also received sponsored tickets for the Birmingham Barons baseball game that night. (Maggie Walsh)