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Children in Crisis

A Haven for Vulnerable Children

Here at Destin City Lifestyle, we are focused throughout the holiday season on giving. To help you find your giving opportunity, we introduce Children in Crisis, an organization that brings joy throughout the year to our community’s most vulnerable children. Please read on to hear what Ken Hair, President and CEO, had to say about this lovely little neighborhood that has provided emergency shelter and safe homes to children since 2008.

When Children in Crisis got started there was not a single emergency shelter in Florida’s District One (Okaloosa, Walton, Santa Rosa, and Escambia counties) for children removed from an unsafe environment on short notice. Local supporters and civic leaders joined Sharilyn Darnell and Mack Gay, the founders of Children in Crisis, to meet this need. Infrastructure plans were drafted in 2005 and by 2008, the doors opened on an emergency shelter. This wonderful facility is clean, bright, and most importantly safe!

The emergency shelter was soon followed by five homes, each housing a permanent resident foster family of up to 7 children. Each parent comes with two important qualifications - a love for children and a thorough background check. What they don’t need is special skills. CIC has grown to provide relevant training and certification on-site!

In October, Children in Crisis held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for an on-site therapy center that reduces the tricky logistics resident families face getting to appointments. A food pantry simplifies grocery shopping expeditions. And, 8 studio apartments in the Opportunity Home offer young adults continued support as they start their young lives!

Generous donors and other non-profits have made all of this possible. For example, the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation has provided over $3 million in support over the past 17 years, sponsoring four of the homes.

You may think parenting seven children is overwhelming, but Ken and Danna Franks, the Vice President of Operations, explained that the parents receive a full range of support. They are there to assist in many parenting duties, even caring for crying little ones. For example, one child had a difficult transition and cried for hours. This intense need was met with the support of the entire neighborhood.

Ken and Danna have both been at Children in Crisis for more than fifteen years. Their speech is filled with words that express a heartfelt respect for the families in their care - “love”, “believe in themselves”, “blessings”, “opportunity”, “success”! They express wonder at watching children grow in front of their eyes.

They have seen more than 1,020 children arrive scared, with one small bag, maybe containing a change of clothes. They have the joy of seeing these children blossom. The children learn basic self care, build confidence, succeed at school, and just have a chance to be a kid!

Visit the Children in Crisis website to see how you can help. Opportunities include vital, ongoing sponsorship and parenting roles.