By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Beverly Anderson’s husband was killed 10 years ago, and she is the first to acknowledge that she’s had a tough time raising her two sons since the tragedy. After moving to Birmingham from North Carolina in 2014, however, she’s found refuge at the Community Care Development Network (CCDN), which serves families in the East Lake and Avondale areas.
“Sometimes people come in here just to vent and just to talk, and when they get what they need they go on,” said CCDN Founder and Executive Director Tamika Holmes. “But some people come in and say, ‘Hey, I need help.’”
Anderson has been a regular at CCDN for about two and a half years. Her sons, ages 17 and 13, are regulars, as well, participating in the male mentoring and tutoring programs.
“When I moved here, I was with one social worker who ended up leaving, said Anderson. “Then I met [Holmes], and my children met her, and they started coming to [CCDN] for tutoring. … She has a lot of programs that help with stuff like that, and it just went from there.”
Anderson not only participates in the parenting program but also attends a Zumba exercise class, which is among the fitness offerings of the CCDN’s Healthy Tuesdays, a collaborative program that involves health care partners, clinics, doctors, nutritionists, counselors, and insurance providers.
The CCDN, established in 2014, is comprised of leaders who help develop and maintain local programs that also connect health care facilities, clinics, doctors, nutritionists, counselors, and insurance providers to help the community. The organization offers programs for everyone—families, adults, and teens.
“The purpose of this organization is to empower people and let them know they really can do all things through Christ who
strengthens them,” said Holmes, who often talks of her “rough upbringing.”
One of the reasons she established CCDN was to have a place that could serve as a safe haven and help break generational curses for families.
“I grew up in poverty, in an environment that was dysfunctional. There was drug and alcohol addiction in my household. I was a high school dropout, as well,” she said. “I saw the things in my own life and foundation getting worse as time went about, so I started to review everything in my own life. That gave me a passion to find a way to help our youth.”
Programs for All
The CCDN’s initiatives include male and female mentoring for youth, tutoring, workforce development, and family reconciliation efforts, as well as a parenting program and executive coaching classes.
CCDN, which operates out of its Community Connection Resource Center in East Lake, offers programs like Precious Pearls of Promise (PPP) for young ladies and Diamonds in the Rough for young men to provide encouragement and mentoring, in addition to college-prep and goal-setting activities, for boys and girls. Both groups, designed for 11- to 18-year-olds, offer young people an opportunity to talk to group leaders about problem-solving, enrichment, and life-skills planning.
“Our youth mentoring programs feature a theme of the month,” Holmes said. “This month’s theme is leadership, so we’re engaging speakers in the community who are subject matter experts in their fields.”
Another program, Parents Helping Parents, involves a quarterly roundtable to help parents network and support each other.
“Some of our successes include connecting parents with jobs, so they are able to provide more income for their families,” Holmes said. “For the classes we do through Work Faith Birmingham, 600 students have graduated within the last four years with an 85 percent success rate of not only getting employment but also keeping employment.”
The CCDN’s Healthy Tuesdays are planned to encourage families to live and maintain healthy lifestyles through mental and family health, fitness, nutrition, and spiritual initiatives.
Another effort, Life Services Thursday, provides essentials and offers assistance to people who need help with bills and food, as well as clothes and shoes from the center’s Clothes Closet. Christy Tubbs, a volunteer, helps with Life Services Thursdays; she found out about the program after coming to the center for help with her bills.
“Before I came here, I used to be at home worrying and trying to figure out things on my own,” she said. “Since coming here, I’m able to communicate with … someone else who can relate to me and give me more information.”
The CCDN has eight staff members, paid and volunteers. Community partners include the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing, the Church at Brook Hills, Valley National Bank, Ambition Catering, Serving New Ministries, God’s Loving Hands Ministries, and the Lovelady Center.
“Our biggest community partners are Work Faith Birmingham and the Offender Alumni Association [OAA] because we’re trying to break cycles,” said Holmes. “We look at homes as silos, and we have these broken pieces that we’re trying to help mend back together. As we mend these pieces back together, we help families become more sustainable.”
The OAA’s partnership with the CCDN started in August. The OAA’s mission is to create a network of former offenders who inspire each other to reduce recidivism, establish healthy relationships, and provide economic opportunities. The CCDN hosts OAA support group meetings every Wednesday night.
Partnerships like the one between OAA and CCDN are important because “grass roots community organizations are the ones that are actually on the ground doing the work,” said OAA Administrative Director Stephanie Hicks. “That’s not to knock any other organization, but at any point that I come over here, [the CCDN is] doing something to help somebody.”
Holmes said the CCDN also is looking into partnering with the city of Birmingham for a future project.
“A Real Blessing”
With the aid of community partners, the CCDN has been able to help 1,000 family households since 2014; it helped 300 families last year.
“We have had some of our kids come in labeled by society as at-risk, and … their whole outlook has turned around, whether it’s their grades or their behavior in school,” Holmes said. “We’ve seen grades change. We’ve seen motivation come back to them. One of our young ladies graduated at the top of her class with a full-ride scholarship. Another young lady … took her power back through joining the choir and the basketball team; she wasn’t involved in any of those things before because she was getting into trouble all the time.”
Holmes has been mentoring for almost 16 years now, including the past four with her own organization.
“I’ve done it for other churches and other programs,” she said. “[Then] I decided to put all those efforts into the CCDN, and it’s been a real blessing to be able to do it.”
For more information, visit www.communitycaredn.org.