February 25, 2009 Edition

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Hampton to lead shelter's efforts

Amber Hampton, the new administrator at the Lawrence County Children's Shelter, shows a book display at the facility, which is scheduled to begin accepting children in late spring or early summer.
TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt
Gretchen Hunt

Amber Hampton, recently-hired administrator for the Lawrence County Children's Shelter, is already on the job making preparations for when the shelter begins accepting children.

An Arkansas Army National Guard veteran, Hampton credits her time overseas with developing a desire to work with children.

"I'm excited to work at this facility because of the children we will be helping from this area," she said.

"After being overseas and seeing the children and the living conditions and the things they had to go through, it made me realize the things that I had taken for granted. That's when I decided it was time for me to invest in my own community and the children of this area."

A 1995 graduate of Black Rock High School, she will have many responsibilities in overseeing the day-to-day operation of the shelter. In addition to her administrative duties, she will also be serving as social services director and case manager.

"As the program grows, I hope to be able to develop a staff," Hampton said.

Hampton will also oversee the direct-care staff, who will work in three eight-hour shifts. She said initially there will be at least two employees per shift, so the center will employ eight to 10 when it opens.

She said the board elected to go with a staffed shelter, rather than a house-parent situation so that those caring for the children will be awake and on the job at all times.

In addition, volunteers will be needed from the community to tutor children, take them to doctor's visits, read books, plan activities, help prepare meals and other such tasks. She said they also hope to develop a network of volunteers from area churches who would pick up children to attend services at their churches.

She said those who wish to help can also consider a monetary donation or the donation of needed items such as new packages of socks and underwear, cleaning supplies, paper products, canned food items and dry goods.

Those interested in helping in any way can stop by the shelter during office hours, which are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Shelter to open by early Summer

The facility is scheduled to begin accepting children in late spring or early summer. Hampton said they had planned to open in April, but the ice storm and completing all the licensing requirements has pushed the opening back.

Hampton earned a bachelor's degree in social work from Arkansas State University and served 13 years in the National Guard as a member of the 875th. She completed a tour of duty in Iraq with the 39th brigade HHC out of Beebe.

She completed social work internships at the Division of Children and Family Services Lawrence County and the East Arkansas Area Agency on Aging in Jonesboro. She also worked at the DCFS in Lawrence County, as the Rear Detachment Readiness NCO for Headquarters 875th of the National Guard and at the Family Assistance Center for the state of Arkansas in Jonesboro.

Most recently, she served as a case manager for Families, Inc.

Judy Turnbull, president of the shelter's board, said Hampton is the perfect fit for the position.

"Amber is self-motivated, reliable and has a strong desire to help displaced children," Turnbull said. "She has a good heart and will insure the children safety, comfort, trust and hope for a better future. I believe she will not give up on any needs for the children or the shelter."

The daughter of Dennis and Linda Phillips of Powhatan, she and her husband, John, live in Walnut Ridge. Her daughter, Allie Phillips, is a seventh grader at Walnut Ridge School.

Hampton said the shelter could never have been a reality without the support from the community.

"I want to thank the community for their support in the past and their continued support in the future," she said. "I encourage everyone in the community to come by and take a tour of the shelter."

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