Volunteers offer blankets and support to Barium Springs
Thursday, Mar. 06, 2014

Volunteers offer blankets and support to Barium Springs

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/19/10/12/Mrrql.Em.138.jpeg|210
    Lake Norman Relief Society Member Katrina Woolley gives blankets to Barium Springs Development Manager Jill Gibson. The women's relief organization gathered material and hand-made the quilts for the past year to be given to children receiving services and being placed into group homes or foster care through Barium Springs.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/19/10/12/h5jdX.Em.138.jpeg|210
    From left Barb Carlson, of Barium Springs; Andi Baughan, Katrina Woolley and Jennifer Forsberg, of the Lake Norman Relief Society; and Jill Gibson, of Barium Springs.

“This one will really excite a 9-year old boy,” Barb Carlson, Barium Springs’ donations coordinator, said of a brightly colored hand-tied quilt with the faces of action figures and super heroes.

The blanket was just one of many that came from boxes and laundry baskets full of handmade blankets donated to Barium Springs Home for Children, a children’s group home and children’s services provider in Troutman. Women from the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints spent more than a year collecting material and making the blankets.

Lake Norman Relief Society President Jennifer Forsberg said the group participates in a variety of projects to help those who need it most in the community, but she said the Barium Springs project had particular significance.

“Many of our members are mothers and grandmothers. We are connected to children in our homes and church. Knowing that these children often come from not having the simple necessities of a loving care provider, food and shelter, makes our hearts pour out for them. We are grateful that by coming to Barium, they will get the help they need and hopefully feel loved by receiving these blankets,” said Forsberg.

“Barium Springs takes care of North Carolina’s most traumatized kids,” said John Koppelmeyer, president and CEO of Barium Springs. He told how one teen came to the group home with a drug addiction. She found healing through art and music therapy and met with counselors to resolve the issues that were at the root of her addiction – a past of sexual abuse and homelessness. Now she is in a foster home and is doing better.

“Many have experienced homelessness, neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, multiple traumas, disappointment and abandonment,’’ said Jill Gibson, regional development manager of Barium Springs. “We work hard to heal their hurts and set them on a better path to a bright future.”

Gibson said that community involvement from the area is essential for the organization to continue to operate. State and federal funding continue to decrease and the organization relies on private donations and community support to bridge the gap. The organization’s 13 offices across western North Carolina serve more than 3,000 children and families.

“Supply drives and other donations, like these blankets, are a huge help to Barium Springs. Household items donated by supply drives decrease our expenses and increase dollars to directly help our children and families. … Financial support is our biggest need but we know and respect that not everyone can donate financially. Our next biggest need is for hygiene products, nonperishable foods and household supplies,” Gibson said.

Volunteers’ contact with the children is limited because of the sensitive nature and confidentiality needed for many of the children. But volunteering and financial support helps Barium Springs put more money directly into therapeutic education, counseling, clinical assessments and other treatments for the children.

Groups can volunteer by coming and hosting a dinner from one of the community programs available to the foster care families or by helping with cleaning or grounds keeping at the site. Individuals are able to volunteer by assisting in office work or coming and reading to a preschool-age child. Organizing a supply drive for essential items such as underwear, socks and nonperishable snacks is helpful.

“We are so blessed to have such wonderful volunteers at Barium Springs. Just this past year, over 250 volunteers donated over 3,000 hours of their time to support our mission and the children and families we serve,” said Gibson.

Adrienne Babbitt is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Adrienne? Email her at observerfreelancewriter@gmail.com.

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