Safe Connections (formerly called Judge Ben Gordon, Jr. Family Visitation Center) enjoys a 21 year relationship with Shalimar United Methodist Church. The Center was located in donated space at SUMC for our first 20 years. Safe Connections is a private non-profit but had its grassroots beginnings as a special project of the 1996 Missions Committee which was formed to address how SUMC could help address a child safety need in our community. The need was then and is now for safe, comfortable space with trained staff and volunteers to provide court ordered supervised visitation and monitored exchange services. These services are provided during times in which crisis and violence have threatened the most basic needs of children.
Often, the Court will order corrective actions for parents and then limit contact with their children until they successfully complete one or more of the following programs: mental health services, parenting classes, batterer’s intervention, individual or family counseling, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, or upon further court action. The protection of the children is paramount while parents address the various issues that have necessitated family reliance upon Safe Connections.
The work of Safe Connections is at its core an effort to help the suffering and needy among us. I believe that when Jesus said to help “the least of these,” he is not just referring to the poor in property, but is also referring to the poor in spirit, the empty hearts, and the vulnerable, afraid and often invisible people. Safe Connections is a local mission that by offering safety, hope, respect and dignity during crisis, has led countless families to make changes which often include a return to, or newly found, Christian faith.
We don’t know all of our family’s paths, but I am often stopped by a parents attending church at SUMC, and thanked for helping them or a loved one that received our services. Many of our clients find a home at SUMC and many more receive additional services from a Stephen’s Minister, the Angel Tree, and Children’s Programs to name but a few. We work with families presenting a variety of needs and have often sought resources for them through our Shalimar church family for everything from groceries to appliance repair and we’ve never had to do more than ask. Even though Safe Connections is no longer located on the Shalimar United Methodist Church campus, we deeply value the blessing of being part of SUMC’s community outreach mission.
If you would like a rewarding volunteer opportunity or feel led to make an additional donation, please call Sharon Rogers at 859-420-2629.
Pictures of Safe Connections
Safe Connections, Fort Walton Beach
Safe Connections, Crestview
Safe Connections, DeFuniak Springs
Sharon Rogers | 850-420-2629