Dr. Jim Wright (contributed)
CULLMAN – Childhaven Executive Director Dr. Jim Wright recently celebrated his 25th year at the organization. He began on Oct. 1, 1993 and is the longest serving executive director in the history of Childhaven.
Wright continues to tell people that he has “the best job on the planet.” He came to Childhaven thinking he would stay four or five years, help bring the agency to a point of greater stability, then move back into the preaching ministry, where he spent 20 years prior to moving to Childhaven. Of course, that did not happen, as he says he fell in love with the ministry of Childhaven and the Cullman community.
During his years at Childhaven, many milestones have occurred. Here are just a few of the more notable ones:
The agency has nearly doubled its services to needy children, youth and families.
Two new group homes have been constructed, the first being used to open services to parenting and pregnant teens – Childhaven’s Genesis Project. When opened, it was among the earliest programs of this type to open in the state, and only one of a dozen or so in the Southeast. This program continues to receive more referrals and maintains the longest waiting list of all our programs.
For the first time in the history of the agency, collaborative partnerships with other agencies were initiated. The first was a statewide collaboration of seven agencies to recruit and train foster parents for the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Currently, Childhaven partners with two other agencies to provide family preservation and reunification services to high risk families in 11 counties.
Through Childhaven’s six different programs, some 450 clients (children and family members) are served each year.
Wright and his wife Debbie have three children and seven grandchildren. Debbie Wright retired as an administrator with Cullman City Schools to spend more time with the family, and she and Jim enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren. They are fond of saying that they have an “ever-growing family, as all who are served by Childhaven become life-long members of the Childhaven family.”