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Sunrise has long history of serving children

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Guest column by Dr. William Smithwick, Sunrise Children's Services

In our efforts to help the children of Kentucky, Sunrise Children's Services has, for nearly a century, relied on Hardin County to play a vital role in our work.

At Sunrise, our legacy involves not only our past history of caring for children, but also our ability to change and adapt so we can continue to serve those needs today and in years to come.

Our history dates back to 1869 when a group of women from Walnut Street Baptist Church in Louisville recognized the need to care for the many children left orphaned and in need following the Civil War. Even in the early days, our agency saw the need to expand and explore new methods as we sought to help children in need all across the state.

Those efforts led to the opening of the Kentucky Baptist Children's Home in Glendale in 1915 and, for several decades, our Glendale campus served as a stable home to meet the needs of hundreds of children. For many, it was the only home they ever knew and we recognize the sentimental and emotional attachment former residents hold to the campus.

For years, we attempted to keep the Glendale campus in operation even though the needs of the children we were serving no longer required us to maintain such a large, sprawling campus. Eventually, we knew that in order to best serve the children today, we needed to move to a much more efficient facility.

The Glen Dale Center relocated to Commerce Street in Elizabethtown in 2010 and continues to provide residential services to approximately 20 young ladies. As an honor to the history of the former campus and as a memorial to all those who called the old Glendale campus home we created a memorial garden where we relocated an archway and bell and a girl’s memorial that all had special meaning to the former residents.

Our ties to Hardin County extend even further than the Glen Dale Center. We also operate the Crossroads Treatment Center, a separate residential center for adolescent and teen boys in Elizabethtown. This community is also home to one of our regional foster care offices and we recently opened a community counseling program here. Sunrise employs many individuals in Hardin County and we continue to see this community as a pivotal player in our efforts to serve children.

Our mission at Sunrise is not to preserve buildings, but rather to change lives. Today we care for more than 600 children across the state. Our time and resources must be directed toward the children who are depending on us today, just as we were dedicated to helping the children at the Glendale campus for so many years before.

Dr. William Smithwick is president and CEO of Sunrise Children's Services.