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March 3, 2005

Seventeen "Family Friends" to be Honored By ULM's Family Matters

March is Social Work Awareness Month, and ULM's Family Matters will honor 17 "Family Friends" who have provided services and resources to help abused and neglected children in the Monroe region. Seventeen "Family Friends" Awards will be presented at an award ceremony on Friday, March 4, during the Title IV-E Advisory Council Subcommittee Meeting.

Singled out because of their support of projects and activities conducted by Family Connections, Family Matters & Family Ties over the past year, these individuals have donated food, supplies, volunteers, and resources to help abused and neglected children in the community and the foster and adoptive families that care for them. The 17 "Family Friends" slated to be honored are: Coach Dale Zimmerman, Sr. of Wossman High School, Coca Cola, Foster Parent Association, Sonic, Raj and Anne Marie Bhandari, Mr. Strong of Easy Way, Carolyn Lewis and the HAMPCO, Little Flower Church, Love's, Minnie Ruffin Elementary School, Monroe Peace Officers, Debbi Pace, Bria Savage & Hibbett Sports/ Sports & Company, and ULM students in Dr. Stacey Moak's class and Dr. Pamela Higgins-Saulsberry's class.

According to Project Assistant Administrator, Linda Christmas, "We are so fortunate to have such generous individuals such as our "Family Friends" in our community. They have given gifts at Christmas, They have given clothing, toys, and gift certificates at Christmas, turkeys and foodstuffs at Thanksgiving, and eggs for our annual Easter Egg Hunt. Some have supported our weekly kids kamps by providing meals for the children who participate; others have collaborated with us for our annual Family Fun Day and provided prizes, food, monetary donations and staff. Thanks to some of our Family Friends, we have been able to take our teens and preteens to Six Flags Over Texas, Magic Springs in Arkansas, Jazzland in New Orleans, and Universal Studios in Orlando.
We could not have done our job effectively without their help. They are true friends to families and children in the Monroe region," Christmas said.

Family Connections is a foster/ adoptive family resource center that provides services to abused and neglected children who reside in foster homes or who have been adopted in the twelve parish area of Region VIII, including Caldwell, East and West Carroll, Franklin, Jackson, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland, Tensas and Union. Family Matters and Family Ties are biological child welfare family resource centers that provide services to parents who have either abused and neglected their children or are at risk of abusing and neglecting their children or who just need support. Family Matters services five parishes: Caldwell, Lincoln, Jackson, Union and Ouachita. While Family Ties services seven parishes: East and West Carroll, Madison, Franklin, Morehouse, Tensas and Richland.

Over 700 families have been involved in services at Family Connections, Family Matters and Family Ties. The project is administered by the ULM Social Work Department through a contract with Louisiana Department of Social Services Office of Community Services. For more information about the awards ceremony or to offer support for abused and neglected children involved with the center, please call 318-340-0989 or 1-800-655-9564.

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