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Nonprofit receives grant to help temporarily separated families have space to eat together
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Brittni Curtis, left, hands a tool to Caroline Nix, right, as they join Lauren Samples Monday Nov. 13, 2017, inside the Hall County SAFFT visitation center putting together new furniture. The furniture is part of renovations funded by the Junior League of Gainesville-Hall County as part of their Done in A Day projects. SAFFT provides services for biological families to visit with children in foster care and work toward reunification of the family. Volunteers helped create a kitchen setting. - photo by Scott Rogers

Rebecca Rusk reminisced on childhood meals cooked by mom, where TVs and cellphones were forbidden.

“There we could just talk, converse, really get to know each other,” said Rusk, the director of operations and program development for SAFFT.

SAFFT, Supporting Adoption and Foster Families Together, will now have a renovated area for parents looking for the same formative bonding time with their children. The center helps parents and children who have been separated temporarily by Juvenile Court removal proceedings.

“This is their one shot as a family to come together once a week and not only see each other but also have the parents prove to the stakeholders making these decisions — judges and the (Division of Family and Children Services) — that they have the skillsets and education and safety to get their kids back,” SAFFT CEO and founder Brian Anderson said.

The Junior League of Gainesville-Hall County approved a $2,500 “Done in a Day” project grant to SAFFT for four kitchen prep stations, a kitchen table and wall decor. Members of Junior League also spent time Monday to build and install the equipment at the Prior Street visitation center.

“If you look at all the stats out there, families who eat together stay together,” Anderson said.

SAFFT officials said 23 families in foster care are supported each week by the center, in addition to a handful of families with domestic violence cases.

“We’ve been really looking forward to this (because) with the holidays coming up, this will give the parents an opportunity to sit down with their children and share some of that holiday time,” Rusk said.