Alfred Saliba Family Services Center gives back to the Wiregrass

Over one hundred years later in the 1921 school building in downtown Dothan education remains a priority.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 4:09 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Over one hundred years later in the 1921 school building in downtown Dothan education remains a priority. Not from a school system necessarily, but from the Alfred Saliba Family Services Center.

This nonprofit has been on this mission for nearly three decades.

From its early Head Start program working with children to its career center guiding adults, the center gives education, resources, and hope to the Wiregrass.

“Our primary focus is to improve the quality of life of families in the Wiregrass,” Belinda Mitchell, the executive director, said.

Mitchell is devoted to this focus and has been for 28 years.

“Most things that we take for granted as individuals, we provide that here,” Mitchell said.

The center provides support and encouragement by meeting people where they are as a teammate and getting them over the finish line.

“I have seen people walk through the door with their last ounce of hope that they have a chance in life.”

The center is designed to fit everyone.

“The only thing that you are required to come here is a pulse,” Mitchell said.

Staff and volunteers are working to transform lives by striving to be a comprehensive, one-stop-shop that offers multiple services for adults and their families.

“Getting job readiness training, workforce development skills, improvement, job search assistance,” Mitchell said.

They work to prepare children for school through the Early Head Start Center which is a federal daycare open to children ages 0-3. It is a free daycare for qualified working parents

Beyond this, they also have the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program. This is where staff go into homes and guide parents to get their students ready for success. No income qualification is required and it is now enrolling.

“Parents are our children’s first teachers,” Mitchell said.

The Saliba Center is not giving a handout, but a handup, all for free.

“Life transformation is happening here at this center,” Mitchell said.

Rickie Johnson is one of those lives.

“I am so blessed,” Johnson said.

Nine years ago, he walked through the Saliba center doors when he was in the valleys

“I’ve been in the streets; I’ve been on drugs, and I came here and got counseling for all of that and they helped me make my life a whole lot better,” Johnson said.

The guidance he received from the staff at the Camp Hire Program pushed him to reach the mountains by getting him career-ready.

“It means a lot to me that she took a chance on me and the skills she gave me for the job interview i used on her to get this job now. I am so grateful I came here,” Johnson said.

He is now the center’s security guard.

“We want to always be a beacon of hope for the community because so many times people are feeling hopeless and they are at their wit’s end with the barriers they are facing and our overarching goal is to help people to remove those barriers, to run alongside them to allow them to feel supported as they try to reach their goals,” Mitchell said.

By prioritizing education and job retainment the center is looking to collaborate with area employers. Mitchell said through this partnership they can work together to fill jobs and boost the workforce in Dothan.

“There are so many people that want to work but they just don’t have what it takes at the moment so the employers willing to partner with us, we can help them meet their goals for labor,” Mitchell said.

Click here to view available volunteer opportunities.

The center is also looking for people to come in to mentor and share their own stories.

Click here to contact the Alfred Saliba Family Services Center.

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