A generous Huntsville, Ala., couple has donated their magnificent Lincoln County home and property for the benefit of foster children throughout the Tennessee Valley for years to come.
The event was marked with a ribbon cutting, open house and self-guided tours Sunday afternoon.
In December, philanthropists R.A. (Rey) and Cynthia Almodóvar signed over their spectacular property here, dubbed Serro Tranquillo (Tranquil Mountain), to the Kids to Love Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. Valued at more than a million dollars, the 10,000-square-foot home is nestled on more than 42 acres just north of Fayetteville.
The couple are long-time supporters of Kids to Love, as well as other humanitarian organizations, such as the U.S. Army Guard, Reserve and Veterans’ associations, the Red Cross and more.
Rey co-founded the Huntsville-based aerospace engineering and analysis firm, Intuitive Research & Technology Corp., with Harold R. Brewer in 1999. He serves as chief executive officer of Intuitive, which has multiple field offices in several states. For the past 10 consecutive years, Intuitive has been recognized among the National Top Ten Great Places to Work. Cynthia is involved in many charitable organizations, including Kids to Love’s Davidson House.
Jointly cutting the ribbon with the Almodóvars was Lee Marshall, founder and CEO of Kids to Love, along with three of the Kids to Love board members and Lincoln County Mayor Bill Newman. Since the birth of their granddaughter, Rey stated that their priorities in life have changed, and they are spending more time in Huntsville.
Cynthia suggested donating the property to Kids to Love, he said, adding that it is an honor to make the donation to Kids to Love so that it will be put to good use. Following the ribbon cutting, the couple unveiled a portrait of themselves that will be displayed in the home so that their family will be remembered.
Kids to Love, based in Madison, Ala., was birthed in 2004 and since then has reached out to rescue and meet the needs of more than 265,000 foster children in Alabama and southern middle Tennessee through multiple outreach programs and services.
While finding forever homes for foster kids is the primary commitment of Kids to Love, they take a holistic approach to meeting the needs of each child. At their lowest level of giving, they provide school supplies for children, but at the Kids to Love Center, they empower older youths by showing them how to have financial security and groom them for careers and personal success. Additionally, in order to equip potential adoptive/foster families, training programs are held at the center.
According to Marshall, the property here will initially be used to host Camp Hope, a program that reunites foster children with their siblings who have been placed in separate foster care. Camp Hope Alabama is a program already in existence and is an outreach of the Kids to Love Foundation. At Camp Hope, siblings meet during a fun weekend retreat in a home-like atmosphere as many as four times a year. Serro Tranquillo will allow the children to meet for longer periods of time to help them maintain and build sibling bonds.
The experience helps to lessen their sense of loss and hopelessness due to being placed in foster care. Marshall mentioned that an additional possibility for the house is to use it for corporate retreats, which would provide seed money for the program.
Marshall said that she has been praying and asking God for what He wants the organization to do with this property and for the next step for them to take.
Marshall has a heart for foster children. She was born into foster care in West Tennessee and was adopted at the age of two. She went on to become a 20-year television news anchor and three-time Emmy Award winning journalist.
She believes that it is her God-given purpose in life to help these children. In 2015, she launched her dream of the Kids to Love Center and hosts a weekly TV segment with a goal of recruiting forever families. On the broadcast, she shares stories of foster children waiting for families, and as a result of the program, at least 300 children out of 350 featured have been adopted.
Nationwide, the number of children in foster care is staggering and continues to escalate yearly. An estimated 443,000 kids are placed in foster care on any given day, with at least 100,000 children waiting to be adopted.
According to 2016 Tennessee statistics, more than 8,000 children were placed in foster care. In Alabama, the Department of Human Resources had 6,400 children in state custody in a recent survey.
Tragically, there aren’t nearly enough foster homes for all of the children, and many will never be adopted. On average, a child will spend two years in foster care, though about six percent spend five years in foster care. Other youths age out of the system and may have no support on the outside.
Preparing kids to be independent is important to Kids to Love, whose organizers launched KTECH in 2016, a workforce training program for young adults, especially those in foster care.
KTECH is also available for veterans who want to re-enter the workforce and for those needing a skill set for employment. In an effort to offer even more educational opportunities, KTECH expanded its services in 2018 to include state-of-the-art robotics and soldering labs.
Foster kids experience Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome at almost twice the rate of soldiers. In an effort to help girls ages 10-19, Kids to Love created Davidson Farms, a home on 10 acres in Madison County. For girls who have experienced trauma, Davidson Farms provides a safe haven, support system and stability in a family environment. Privately funded, it gives the girls an atmosphere filled with faith, hope and love and provides trust-based relational intervention counseling to help them move beyond a traumatic past.
Kids to Love offers many other opportunities to help and empower foster children and foster parents.
For more information about Kids to Love, go to their website at kidstolove.org.