“Traveling the World in Your Own Backyard”

Photo Fun 

7th grader Max McGwin shares his knowledge about United Arab Emirates with other students during the International Fair at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School in Homewood.

Students enjoy learning about Kazakhstan as 7th grader Zach Wedlund explains its culture at the International Fair held at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School.

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Using a Trust to Protect Your Children from Divorce & Creditors

Using a Trust to Protect Your Children from Divorce & Creditors

Legal Matters

presented by: Bradford & Holliman, Estate Planning

Parents frequently ask us how they can leave their assets to their children when they die without those assets being vulnerable to a child later divorcing or having problems with debt. The sentiments expressed by the parents are almost always the same: “We want our child to have our assets, we do not want an ex-spouse or creditor to have our assets.”

The typical Last Will and Testament that leaves everything to the child or percentages to children cannot provide this kind of protection because once the assets become the property of a child, they become subject to the laws governing divorce or other debt collection. However, parents can create trusts to hold the assets they leave for children that will protect the assets from divorce or other creditors. These trusts can be set up to provide assets to a child as needed. Since the assets are not placed into the child’s name, the assets do not become the property of the child which would be subject to division or seizure. Of course, not all trusts can accomplish this goal. The trust must contain the right provisions and restrictions to accomplish asset protection for a child.

Parents may choose to use a Last Will and Testament that has the proper trust provisions inside the Will; or, they may choose to use a Revocable Living Trust that completely avoids the probate court process at death while providing protection for the heirs. If you wish to provide protection for children or other heirs, talk with your estate planning attorney to determine the best way to achieve your specific goals.

Melanie Bradford Holliman 

Partner, Bradford & Holliman, LLC

Practice focuses on estate planning, elder law and special needs trust.

2491 Pelham Parkway, Pelham, Ala. 35124

205-663-0281, www.bradfordholliman.com

This article is for educational purposes and is not intended for specific legal advice.

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ACT: Practice Car Heat Safety

ACT: Practice Car Heat Safety

Healthy Living

We all have forgetful moments at times. We may forget our cell phone or misplace our keys, but what happens if you forget your sleeping baby is left in the back seat of the car? Or what if you decide to leave your baby in the car while you run inside for “just a minute?”

Hot vehicles are the primary non-crash, vehicle-related killer of children under the age of 14, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2016, 39 U.S. children died from hyperthermia or heat stroke while in automobiles. When the outside temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature inside a car can reach 114 degrees in just 20 minutes. This can quickly raise body temperature to dangerous levels. Cracking a window open and parking in the shade are not sufficient safeguards. A child’s body heats up three to four times faster than an adult’s body. Children’s of Alabama has joined the national initiative, ACT, which educates the public about the dangers of leaving a child in a hot car. ACT stands for: 

Avoid heat stroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in the car, not even for a minute. Always lock your doors and trunk so a child doesn’t climb into a hot car without you knowing.

Create reminders for yourself by placing something you’ll need at your destination, like a cell phone, next to the child safety seat. This can be a helpful reminder on a chaotic day.

Take action. If you see a child left alone in a car, call 911 immediately. Emergency personnel are trained to respond to these situations .

For more information, visit safekids.org or childrensal.org/childpassengersafety.

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Shades Mountain Christian Becomes Heritage Christian Academy

Shades Mountain Christian Becomes Heritage Christian Academy

Education Extra

As classes start this fall, Shades Mountain Christian School staff and faculty will welcome students back under the school’s new name, Heritage Christian Academy (HCA). In addition to the name change, a location change was also anticipated but instead students will remain at the school’s original home, Shades Mountain Community Church (formerly Shades Mountain Independent), for the 2017-2018 school year. HCA planned to purchase the Riverchase Middle School campus from the City of Pelham but a delay in the closing this summer opened the door for Hoover City Schools to purchase the property instead. In a written statement to the community, HCA leadership shared, “We are disappointed but not disheartened. Heritage Christian Academy has the same great faculty, same great students, and same great families as we had in the past. We look forward to what God has in store for HCA for this year and for the future.”

Established in 1974 as Shades Mountain Christian School, Heritage Christian Academy has a rich heritage in Christian education. The “Heritage” name plays tribute to the legacy and history reflective of the school founder, the late Richard “Dick” Vignuelle. Pastor Vignuelle had a vision to start a Christian community school in Birmingham. Since its inception, the school has served students and families for over 40 years, and has graduated over 1,000 alumni. The independent, community, Christian school serves grades K-4 through 12 and is accredited by AdvancED, formerly the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and is a member of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). †

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OLS Inventors!

OLS Inventors!

Education Extra

Fourth-graders Adam Grimes and Nicole McKie explain their original inventions to students during the OLS Invention Convention.

Some fourth-grade students at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School (OLS) can now call themselves inventors! During their final month of school in May, the students created original inventions and displayed them at their own Invention Convention in the OLS Parish Hall. The fun event was a major part of their science curriculum. As a part of a month-long project, the fourth-graders had to think of an original idea or develop a new method of doing something. The students then worked through a systematic process to make their invention a reality. The class project was structured to help the students learn about inventors and develop their own product. It also taught them how to create their own concept through research and development and how to design a blueprint as well as create a convincing advertisement for their new device. A summary report and writing a tribute letter to another inventor were also a part of the assignment which culminated with the Invention Convention. †

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Serving Alabama Children through CASA

Serving Alabama Children through CASA

For children who have experienced abuse or neglect, the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) can help make a difference by helping them work their way through the court and child welfare systems in search of a loving home. Each time a child is paired with a CASA Volunteer, their chances are greater to have the best possible outcome. CASA recruits and trains volunteers to advocate for the child’s best interest in the court process. They work with judges, lawyers, social workers, and families to ensure each child has an advocate in court, the child welfare, and foster care systems.

Many life goals and achievements that our culture considers normal rites of passage do not occur for children who are in foster care. Statistics show that 40% do not graduate from high school, 20% become homeless within one year and 25% will be incarcerated after leaving foster care. In contrast, children with CASA volunteers spend 7.5 months less time in foster care, experience fewer out-of-home placements, have significantly better educational performance, and are 90% less likely to reenter the system. By working to reduce the length of time a child spends in foster care, CASA saves the state thousands of dollars while drastically improving the quality of a child’s life, one child at a time. Every child that CASA helps to find a safe, permanent home is one more future adult who has a chance to thrive and succeed in our society.

In 2015, there were 10,279 dependency proceedings in Alabama. Currently, we only have the capacity to serve 10% of the children who need a CASA Volunteer. We must serve more but we cannot do it without the help of caring individuals willing to be trained to serve. You don’t have to be “qualified,” just a caring, compassionate and concerned person willing to be trained.

CASA is presently recruiting volunteers to work with abused and neglected children in all areas of Shelby County and parts of the Hoover area. Training classes begin Monday, October 9th.  For more information on how you can help, please visit www.casaofshelbycounty.org or call Beth at 243-8753. †

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Bringing Out the Winner with John Croyle

Bringing Out the Winner with John Croyle

RSVP “Yes!”

Recently, our son Brodie and his wife Kelli hosted a crawfish boil at the Boys’ Ranch pool. My wife Tee and I were talking with two of our staff members, who have been with us for over thirty years, about all the many changes that have taken place during their time with us.

One of these long-time warriors asked, “Did you see all this so long ago?”

Our response was a simple, “Not at all!”

We have watched a simple dream of helping children have a chance at life grow into what Big Oak Ranch is today – a strong faith-based ministry that our children, Reagan and Brodie, now lead with the same mindset. We have learned over these last 43+ years that the Lord will give you only what you can handle at any given moment. There is no way we could have seen back in 1974 to where we are now.  God knows you and me. He knows what we are capable of even if we don’t. He knows precisely where we are and what we can handle. He also has a plan of what He wants to accomplish through us. Our responsibility is to simply say, “Yes!”

Perhaps there is something in your life that you KNOW you were called to do, and for whatever reason you are struggling with the “yes” part.  May I suggest that you CAN trust the author of the invitation? Perhaps your life is at the point of you choosing to RSVP to the invitation our Creator has given you. God can use folks like you and me to make a difference in this world. He’s just waiting on our reply.

John Croyle, Founder, Big Oak Ranch

Author, Who You Are/Defying the Circumstances that Define Us, Bringing Out the Winner in Your Child, The Two Minute Drill to Manhood and Raising a Princess, www.bigoak.org

 

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Family Fun with American Village

Family Fun with American Village

Are We There Yet?

Family Fun with Pirates, Spies and Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride!

Summer admission at the American Village is only $5 (Tues.-Sat. thru July 29).

This past election year brought about tremendous political and social tension. In this time of heightened partisanship and feuding, our country cannot hide its disunity. Still, there are places that promote patriotism and unity that we can view as beacons of hope, including The American Village in Montevallo. The Village did not halt its operations or surrender during this tumultuous year. Rather, the organization’s historians, writers, and actors have created and produced a one of a kind summer program that interactively promotes citizenship and is designed for all ages. You may meet some of Blackbeard’s pirates or partake in Paul Revere’s historic midnight ride; change the course of history and spy for the Continental Army.

All the American Village’s activities center around getting people involved in history. Each visitor participates in re-enacting history, adopting a temporary participatory role in shaping America. This unique experience goes deeper than the text of a book or a long lecture. The program places each person in a specific moment. Each visitor will find themselves with historic characters in a replica building from America’s founding era. In a sense, passing through the gates into the American Village is entering a modern time machine.

Costumed historical interpreters at the American Village bring to life our country’s revolutionary history. They re-enact moments when farmers put down their plows and took up arms to defend liberty, when a new nation was born, and when freedom rang true for the first time. No matter the story or season, the American Village promotes patriotism.

The American experiment has survived and thrived for hundreds of years. As we celebrate Independence Day this month, the American Village’s summer program is sure to encourage you to take up your civic duty and be grateful for the freedoms we enjoy. Let freedom ring for America’s past, present, and future. Bring your kids to the American Village any Tuesday through Saturday from 10-4 until July 29th to experience Celebrate America! Or join the American Village July 4th from 11:30 to 9:00 p.m. for red, white and blue family-friendly Independence Day fun, food and fireworks! Let freedom ring, www.americanvillage.org.

-Abby Holcombe

 

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Alabama Splash Adventure: A Koch Family Masterpiece

Alabama Splash Adventure: A Koch Family Masterpiece

Are We There Yet?

Alabama Adventure offers great rides like the Drop Zone and Tea Cups. Alabama Splash Adventure Owner Pat Koch is seen here (third from left) experiencing Drop Z.

Alabama Splash Adventure owners Pat and Dan Koch have a unique amusement park to say the least. The goal of the mother son team is simple. Provide guests the best family atmosphere a park can offer from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Many amusement parks can be very draining on a family’s bank account but the Koch’s park is different in that regard. “We offer seven stations of free drinks called the Pepsi Oasis so our guests don’t have to wait in line,” Koch said. “We also want to keep our guests healthy and hydrated with water and Gatorade.” When the Alabama summer heat gets to guests, the park also offers the Star Theater for groups to meet and greet other guests.  The Koch’s also offer free sunscreen stations throughout the park for guests to take care of their skin. “We are a family,” Koch said. “We want to offer a great family atmosphere, which is what we strive for.” In order to do that, mother and son hardly ever leave the park. They are constantly adapting and upgrading the park in any way possible to enhance visitors’ experience.

The Koch’s take pride in keeping the park litter free and the attention to detail is evident. The rides have been updated and new ones added like the Drop Zone which takes riders 30 feet in the air and Teacup which is a fun, easy ride for the whole family to experience.

Despite the ups and downs of owning an amusement park, Pat Koch always keeps her faith in perspective and feels blessed. “My faith plays a role in everything that I do,” Koch said. “Two women say to me we pray for you every time we pass the park because we want you to be successful.”

If you are looking for a fun venue to take your family at a reasonable price, Alabama Splash Adventures has everything and more, www.alabamasplash.com.

Plus, this month Birmingham Christian Family is giving away a Family 4-Pack (four general admission tickets) to the park. To enter, simply Like and Follow our Facebook Page, Facebook.com/BirminghamChristianFamily and Share the Alabama Splash Adventure Family 4-Pack post. Offer Ends July 18, 2017.

-Brian Hill

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