New adult education outreach center opens in Clanton

By J.R. TIDWELL / Editor

Adults in Clanton who are looking to go back to college, learn life skills or receive training that will aid in finding a job now have a new resource.

Kids First Community Center, a non-profit organization that has been operated by Oscar and Cindy Hawkins to benefit families in Shelby and Chilton Counties for over 17 years, opened a new location Feb. 20 that will focus on adult education and workforce development outreach.

This new building, which has been deemed the BELL Resource Center (Building Educated Leaders for Life), is part of the Bridge of HOPE (Helping Our Parents through Education) program that the Hawkins family operates.

The center is located on Fifth Avenue N. behind Martin Funeral Home.

“Bridge of HOPE has been around for a couple of years,” said Cindy Hawkins. “Kids First started in 2002. We have been in Alabaster, and then we expanded to Calera.

“God has placed it on my heart to come to Clanton, and that’s how we got here. We started doing the program in Jemison, but the [group we got the building from] needed it back, so happily I gave it back. They said there was another building here, so we expanded down here.”

Hawkins said the goal of the BELL Resource Center is to help improve the community by reducing unemployment and helping people become financially stable.

The center will also provide help for adults trying to earn their GED, looking to take the ACT or return to college, as well as developing interview skills to aid in job hunting.

“We are going to do leadership classes, job training classes, computer training — kinds of classes that are going to provide resources and education to the community,” she said.

“Our hope is that if we can encourage, connect and inspire parents through education and resources, they will be able to pass along this same encouragement and knowledge to their children and be better prepared for the 21st century workplace.”

The classes are free, and anyone looking to participate needs only to pick up the phone.

“They just need to give me a call at (205) 706-9467,” Hawkins said. “We are going to meet every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Transportation will be provided. Whatever they need, we are going to do our best to provide it.”

The BELL Resource Center will be working in collaboration with the Chilton County Board of Education, the Alabama State Department of Education, the Alabama Career Center, Wallace and Jefferson State and other organizations.

“I just want to say how excited I am about the program and the resources we are going to be able to provide people with as we move forward,” said Chilton County Superintendent Tommy Glasscock.

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