Happy 20th Birthday to us!
Today is a very special day for the Kids to Love Foundation — we turn 20 today!
On Jan. 15, 2004, our Founder and CEO Lee Marshall officially formed Kids to Love. Since then, we have touched the lives of more than 300,000 children and families in the foster care system.
“What we have been able to accomplish in 20 years, and the mountains that God has moved and let us be a part of moving is so much more and so much bigger,” Lee said.
It started with Lee packing backpacks with school supplies in her garage with her dad. Then, college scholarships. Today, Kids to Love has 15 programs that provide clothes and toys, mental wellness services, KTECH career training, housing and more. The garage operation moved into the Kids to Love Center in Madison, which holds offices, classrooms, and warehouse space. Another building is now in the works next door to continue growing.
“I don’t think it was really until Patty and Louis Breland gave us the deed to the building that’s now the Kids to Love Center that allowed Kids to Love to really put roots down and to continue to grow and do even bigger things,” Lee said.
Kids to Love also has Davidson Farms, a home for girls that includes the Whitaker Cottage Community, for young women who have aged out of the foster care system. The Farm was made possible by a generous donation from Dorothy Davidson, and Beth and Devin Whitaker along with so many other community supporters helped bring our cottages to life.
These generous donations, individual donors, and businesses in the community have been instrumental in helping Kids to Love soar.
“Before we even ask, we have our donors coming forward, because they see that we’re doing life-changing work,” Lee said.
Kids to Love has gone from a team of one to more than two dozen people working to meet the needs of children living in foster care.
In addition to meeting children’s needs, Kids to Love is dedicated to helping support and grow foster families through their Child Placing Agency; providing training, private adoption services, and foster child placement.
And we’ve expanded into treating children with the advent of the Smith Family Wellness Center and the Grant Hill Trauma Team. Our trauma therapy team also recently added equine therapy to its toolkit.
“We’ll continue to do all the outreach programs that we do. That’s not changing,” Lee said. “But what we’re adding is going to be such an intentional, holistic approach to solving foster care and helping our kids heal.”
So while Lee says she never dreamed that Kids to Love would be in the position that it is today, she still feels the calling to help children and serve as their advocate, mentor, and sometimes a second mom.
“We’re no longer a ministry or mission; we’re truly a movement,” Lee said. “I feel like the pendulum is shifting. The scales are shifting, because the amount of people now that are reaching out to us with the most unusual, amazing things that are happening in our community. Kids to Love is an organization they want to partner with and that’s taken a long time to build that trust.”