September 1, 2010 Edition

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Children's Shelter
names administrator

Lisa Hufstedler (center) has been named the new administrator of The Children's Shelter. She is greeted by the Michelle Culbreath (left) and Joyce Rose, who have been serving as interim volunteer administrators for over four months.

John Bland

The Children's Shelter Board has named Lisa Hufstedler of Bono as the new administrator of the Shelter. Hufstedler, a native of the Walnut Ridge area, will begin her duties on Sept. 7.

For the past two-and-a-half years Hufstedler has been working with the Craighead County Department of Human Services. "I have worked with children and families in making their lives better," she said.

While related to that work, her administrative duties at the shelter will be a new challenge, including efforts to secure funding. "I'm excited and apprehensive," she said. "It's going to be a great working environment," she added.

Hufstedler's husband, Rodney, is employed by Hytrol Conveyor Co. in Jonesboro. They have two sons, Brett, age 18, who is attending Arkansas State University in Newport, and Gatlin, age 15, a 10th grader at Westside High School.

The daughter of Ed and Willie Baker of Walnut Ridge, Hufstedler is a 1985 graduate of WRHS.

Volunteers rescue shelter

For over four months, since the resignation of the first administrator, Joyce Rose and Michelle Culbreath have been serving as volunteer interim administrators. "They're great ladies," Hufstedler said of the two.

"If it hadn't been for them (Rose and Culbreath), our doors would have closed," said Judy Turnbull, shelter board president. Licensing requirements include that the shelter have an interim administrator.

"They have gone over and above their duties for the needs of these kids," Turnbull said. "They have given countless hours, and I could never, ever repay them or begin to pay them what they deserve. They have truly been my angels, angels for this shelter and mainly (angels) for these kids."

Turnbull said she is planning with other board members to host a reception in the near future to welcome Hufstedler to the community and to honor Rose and Culbreath for their service.

Shelter status

Rose and Culbreath reported on the status of the Shelter at an Aug. 19 meeting of the Kiwanis Club.

Since the Shelter opened on June 1, 2009, 233 children from 22 counties have been housed at the temporary emergency shelter. These are children who have been displaced from their homes through no fault of their own. The children have come from all parts of the state, as far away as Texarkana, but the majority has come from nine area counties.

"There is definitely a need," said Rose.

Lawrence and surrounding counties, and the number of children who have been lodged at the shelter are as follows:

  • Craighead Co. - 48

  • Greene Co. - 36

  • Lawrence Co. - 43

  • Randolph Co. - 31

The shelter is licensed to house up to 12 children, ranging from age five to 12. However, the shelter can take a child younger than five if he or she has a sibling age five to 12. Likewise, the shelter can house a child up to age 14 if he or she has a sibling age five to 12. The shelter has also had a teen mother with a two-year-old child.

The children at the shelter are referred to as "guests," said Rose. They can only be housed for up to 45 days initially, while some might get an extension for a maximum of 90 days.

"It's tough to see them go when you get attached," Rose added.

Kids at the shelter have a structured environment. School-aged children are enrolled in school, and they have specified times for homework, bathing and chores.

Funding imperative

The Department of Human Services is now paying the shelter $25 a day per child. However, this amount is not nearly enough to pay for staff, meals, utilities as well as other miscellaneous expenses.

Rose explained that the shelter is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and three meals a day are provided. An additional staff member must be added when the shelter has over seven children.

The shelter staff includes full-time, part-time and on-call staff with two providing direct care at all times.

Rose said the shelter is seeking to obtain a contract with the state to help provide additional funding. This, however, is a two-year process.

"The shelter will always need funding and donations as a non-profit," said Rose. Roughly $20,000 a month is needed to cover all operating costs, she added.

"Funding is imperative" to keep the shelter open, Rose said.

A committee is also in the process of visiting groups, such as civic clubs and quorum courts, in other counties to seek financial support. The board is considering a name change to the Northeast Arkansas Children's Shelter.

Some churches and other groups do give regularly to the shelter, and these donations are a big help. "Lawrence County has been wonderful," Rose said.

With the hiring of a new administrator, Rose and Culbreath plan to continue volunteering their expertise to the shelter but at a less demanding pace.

"The blessings have been wonderful," Rose said.

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