CASA Expands Efforts to Help Children in Shelby County

Patricia M. Smith CASA House

Mission Makers

Columbiana, Ala. has a new house, the Patricia M. Smith CASA House located at 438 West College Street. It will serve as an office and supervised visitation location for the abused and neglected children of Shelby County under the care of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).

In 1996, then presiding District Court Judge Patricia “Patti” M. Smith founded Friends of the Court, Inc./CASA of Shelby County with a few volunteer board members, no CASA Volunteers and no financial support. CASA now serves more than 100 children and remains the only program of its kind in Shelby County. Today the program is under the direction of Family Court Judge Jim Kramer until District Court Judge-Elect Erin Welborn takes the bench in January of 2023.

Patricia M. Smith CASA House
Here is a look at the Patricia M. Smith CASA House. Photo Courtesy Shelby County Reporter

CASA is a non-profit organization whose goal is to ensure that every abused and neglected child they serve has a safe and permanent home. CASA recruits and trains volunteers to go through the court process with abused and neglected children. CASA Volunteers are the “eyes and ears” of the court and a “voice” for children in court. They provide valuable information that assists Judge Kramer in making the best decisions for the children in his courtroom. CASA also provides a parenting program and supervises visitations with CASA children who are involved in the court process who might not get to see their parents otherwise.

Judge Patti Smith with Alabama State Representative Corley Ellis
Judge Patti Smith with Alabama State Representative Corley Ellis/District 41 Shelby County at the opening of the new CASA home.

The new house will be a welcomed addition to the program. “When it came time to naming the house, the board and I knew there was only one thing to do,” said CASA’s Director Beth Chapman. “Judge Smith started the program from the ground up with very few resources. It is thriving today and changing lives for the better because of her work in the early days. We knew it had to be named in her honor.” Smith served as Shelby County’s only Family Court Judge for 25 years and served on the Alabama Supreme Court for six years. She remains one of the state’s leading authorities when it comes to children’s issues. “It is truly humbling and the honor of my career to have such a useful and much needed house named in my honor,” said Smith. “I know many lives will continue to be changed due to the work of CASA. That is my prayer – that it will be a house of hope for children in need.”

CASA is funded by the Children’s Trust Fund, a Shelby County Community Grant and various other corporations, foundations and individuals. For more information on how you can become a CASA Volunteer visit or call Beth at 205-980-4466. †

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Another celebration

It’s been a year since Buck Creek Coffee added their drive-thru service! Join them on Friday, August 19 from 1pm – 6pm. They will have the Downeast Lobster Company food truck out front. Both the coffee house and drive-thru will be opened!


Pleasant Hill Farms presents A Nativity Christmas, an open house to benefit Perfect Pathways Adult Day Center. Come enjoy refreshments, live music, children’s activities, and see over 100 Nativities from all around the world. December 18: 6-9pm; December 19: 7-9pm. Tickets can be purchased at or at the door. To enable social distancing, tickets are limited. Groups are welcome.

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MORE THAN 50 CARS with trunks open, creatively decorated, and filled with loads of great candy–that’s Trunk or Treat! You and your family are invited to be a part of it! Come in costume and prepare for a great time! Don’t forget your bags or buckets!


Mission Makers Word and Water Child playing in Water

Mission Makers

Mission Makers Word and Water Person getting baptizedWhen most Americans reach retirement age, they look forward to traveling, visiting family, and taking a break. Not so for the men who launched The Word and Water Project. In 2017, God laid upon the heart of several businessmen in the Birmingham community a desire to finish strong for the Gospel as they approached their retirement from corporate America. From those conversations, God inspired Jeff Middleton to establish The Word and Water Project, a non-profit organization that reaches people for Christ by sharing His Word and other life-sustaining elements, such as clean water. “Several of us were in a weekly Bible study together. We were studying the book of James and were challenged to put feet to our faith,” says Middleton. “Around the same time, we became aware of the clean water crisis around the world. We thought that by ministering to people’s physical needs we could also have the opportunity to share the Good News of Christ.”

Middleton and his team believed that the most effective ministry model would come from partnering with like-minded, local ministries who best understand the culture, language, and needs of their community. The Word and Water Project empowers indigenous believers to reach their own neighbors with Bibles, clean water, and supporting technologies. Since its launch in 2019, The Word and Water Project has partnered with ministries in Alabama, Uganda, Thailand, and India to provide for projects such as:

  • A solar well system that provides clean water for more than 5,000 people for villages in Western Uganda
  • Supplies and volunteers for Grace Klein Ministries in Birmingham
  • Seed for local Ugandan churches to distribute to over 1,500 people impacted by the global pandemic
  • Ministry support for CrossTies Asia, who saw 1,400 new believers baptized in one day
  • Bibles and other training materials for pastors and new believers in India

Mission Makers Word and Water Girl washing face with clean waterIn the coming year, The Word and Water Project has partnered with a local church in Kumi, Uganda, to dig three wells and install a hand pump and basin. This will provide easy access to clean water for more than 7,000 people on the remote Tsai Island- where many die from preventable diseases due to poor water quality. “You really don’t have to look far to find people in need,” says Middleton. “Many are looking for someone to simply come alongside them- to provide a ‘hand up,’ not a ‘hand-out.’”

You can help satisfy the deepest thirst of people in the Birmingham area and around the world by joining the faithful supporters who give prayerfully and financially to The Word and Water Project. All donations directly support work in the field, helping sow the Gospel, and The Word and Water Project’s Board of Directors covers all administrative and marketing expenses. For more information on how you can be a part of the ministry, visit and follow along on Facebook and Instagram @wordandwaterproject.

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I think, sometimes, as women we forget the power we have in setting atmospheres. I believe God has gifted us to provide a place of comfort and joy in our homes. Other than always speaking words of encouragement to our family, creating a cozy home is a great way to do that. Here are some of my favorite things to do:

1. Light a candle. Think seasonal.

2. Add throw blankets to the living room. This serves as decor and is functional as well. We love to grab a throw and cozy up on the couch and watch TV.

3. Cook a meal together. There’s just something special about gathering in the kitchen with one another.

4. Eat at the dining room table as a family. We believe in always sitting down together for dinner. That’s where we catch up and chat about our day.

5. Keep the house picked up and dishes out of the sink. This may be a little hard with small children, but having a designated place for toys make it easier to put them all up at the end of the day. We keep the dishwasher loaded to keep dishes out of the sink during the day.

These are a few things I try to do to keep a cozy home. They are simple, but so helpful!

—Charlotte Evans Russell

For more design inspiration and tips, follow me on Instagram 

@charlotteshappyhome and subscribe to my blog,

Read Charlotte’s faith story here

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The Alabaster Career Center is hosting a Shelby County Job Fair from 9 a.m.- 12 p.m. at the Old Mill Square, Grande Hall, 105 W. College Street, Columbiana, AL. The Job Fair is free and open to the public and there will be food trucks on site! For more information, call 205-663-2542 or email

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Publisher’s Note

As we turn 21, we would like to invite you to come and celebrate with us! Here’s a snapshot of just some of the fun, free activities taking place at the Celebrate the Family Expo! Saturday May 8, 2021 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Pelham Civic Complex.Girl with Face Painted

  • Kid Zone inflatables courtesy Fun Source!
  • Face Painting courtesy Painted Personalities.
  • Live Music including performances by Kevin Derryberry.
  • Meet and greet with Birmingham Christian Family(BCF) past cover stories and special guests like Pelham Mayor Gary W. Waters.
  • Enjoy product and food samples offered by exhibitors as well as resources to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the family.
  • Onsite free recycling of electronics and free shredding provided by Gone for Good, a program of United Ability from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Kevin Derryberry PerformingOnsite King’s Home Thrift Store donation truck to take your donations and provide you with a tax-deductible receipt. Your donations will help the women and children at King’s Home.

Expo 2020 Inflatable SlideSpecial Thanks to our Title Sponsor Vulcan Termite & Pest Control Inc. and our Major Sponsors Children’s of Alabama, Classical Conversations, Shades Mountain Baptist Church, and Vision Financial Group as well as our 50 plus exhibitors.

We look forward to seeing you and your family as we Celebrate the Family & 21 Years of FREE Good News! Visit us at for the most up to date and detailed schedule.

Laurie Stroud Franklin, Publisher-Laurie Stroud Franklin

Founder, The Christian Family Publication, Inc.

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Celebrating 21 Years of Good News!

“Look to the Lord & His Strength, Seek His face always.”

1 Chronicles 16:11 (Holman Standard)

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