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Center for Families turns 125


Bossier-Shreveport non-profit celebrates status as oldest in state

The Center for Families, Inc. is celebrating a historic milestone this month.

February marks the 125th anniversary of the non-profit counseling agency’s existence. While its roots date back to 1889, The Center for Families mission to build stronger lives, families and community continues to make an impact as the oldest and first non-profit in northwest Louisiana.

Laura Brucia Hamm, Chief Executive Officer, said the agency has made great strides in recent years to become more visible, available, accessible and affordable to the community.

“Our mission is to help everyone,” Hamm said. “Our quality of service is high and we are staffed with highly trained professionals that are committed to serving this community. That’s what we have thrived on for 125 years.”

The Center for Families offers a variety of services, including counseling for individuals, couples and families. Hamm said clients range in age from three years old to adults.

One of their successes has been the Triple P Program, or Positive Parenting Program. The goal, Hamm said, is to provide a resource for parents to see an increase in positive family communication and to teach parents how to work with their children in order to decrease household negativity.

However, children’s needs have always been a focal point for the counseling agency. It originally opened as the Genevieve Orphanage and has since evolved into providing foster care, day care and preschool services while also providing counseling and other support services to the community.

“We have a rich history and it all began with the knock of a young child begging for food and money back in 1889,” Hamm said. “Our current focus is mental health care and providing services that will meet more needs of the community we serve.”

An upward trend of clients projected for 2014 is setting the pace for the next century and beyond. Hamm said their growth from 861 clients in 2013 to a projected 1,000 in 2014 means the community still values things like mental health and wellness.

“It is our responsibility to meet those needs to better the individuals that come into our doors,” Hamm said.

An official celebration is in the works for May 6 at the agency’s serenity garden from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The evening will include live music, delectable edibles, a journey through time and a few other surprises.

Their 125th celebration will also include a 24-hour online event through Give for Good, which will empower the people of North Louisiana to come together and raise as much money as possible for their non-profit agency.

As they prepare for the celebration, Hamm is asking for the public’s help in order to fill the pages of a memory book. She’s asking that anyone with a connection to the Genevieve Orphanage or The Center for Families contact the agency to share their experiences.

“The orphanage had so many key players through the 50s. We are looking for oral stories and photos to offer a complete history to the community,” Hamm said. “This is a way for us to pay tribute to the children who were brave enough to come forward and to those who helped guide them through tough times. Any connection or contacts we can get for those stories would be an honor.”

The Center for Families is located at 864 Olive Street in Shreveport. Counseling is provided on a sliding fee scale, also known as an “ability to pay” rate. Things like medical conditions and child support are taken into consideration as special circumstances.

For more information or to share your photos and memories, call (318) 222-0759 or send an e-mail to contact@thecenterforfamilies.com.

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.