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Panhandle Spirit: Amarillo Children's Home

Amarillo Children's Home has been preparing foster children for adulthood since 1924.(ABC7 Amarillo)

One of the sad realities of the foster care system in America and the Panhandle is that there are thousands of kids who grow into young adulthood entirely in state custody.

At the Amarillo Children’s Home, they’re devoted to the mission of helping those kids through the challenging transition of living on their own.

With seven homes spread across the property, each holding six or seven kids, President Darrin Murphy says the staff is focused not just on giving them a safe place to live, but putting them on a path to a better life.

"They come oftentimes out of a really broken situation, and our mission statement is to restore the identity of kids so that they would understand their great value and be a blessing to others, and so we take them through that process," Murphy said.

That’s something Director of Operations John Emmitt first put into practice as a house parent here.

"We build value through experiences and challenges and really help them to learn and grow into who they can be. The end result is that ‘blessing to others’ piece, where they are giving back to others," Emmitt said.

Murphy says the residents' ages range from five to 25, and it's during the teen years when they emphasize transitional education, getting them a job, teaching them life skills like financial management. He spoke of one high schooler who's shown remarkable growth in a short time.

"She's a major player in varsity sports and bought her first car this week, and so she's as proud as she can be, because she's now, after several years, independent, very outgoing. When we first saw her, she was very quiet, didn't want to speak to people, did not like to be talked to. Now, she is outgoing and is really making a difference in the community," Murphy said.

Agency Administrator Jo Ann Wilson says while the challenge of helping these kids find their own identity and shed the baggage of their former home lives can be daunting, the reward is immeasurable.

"We invest in the challenges that they have and we take risks and so when they hit a bump in the road, and we begin to work with those challenges, and to see them overcome and work through those, it's absolutely delightful for me."

On Sunday, September 23rd at 6:30 p.m., there’s an outdoor concert and cookout at their location on 34th and Bowie. It’s free, but 100 percent of your donations go to the home.

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