Harlan Center to host Guardian Angels event

Published 9:10 am Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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The Harlan Civic Center will be the location for the first Guardian Angels event on Wednesday, April 24, the event is specifically for those who serve as guardians for children whose parents cannot take care of them.

According to a press release, the event is dedicated to recognizing and supporting grandparents, relatives, and friends who have taken on the role of guardians for children in need.

Harlan County Casey’s Law Advocate Mandy Gooden shared some details of the event during a recent interview.

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“We’re planning to offer resources,” Gooden said. “There are a lot of resources that Harlan County provides, but it’s sometimes hard for individuals to know what those are and to be able to locate them. Our goal is to bring multiple resources together at the Harlan Center.”

She pointed out along with the resource information, there will be a variety of offerings for the guardians to enjoy, such as food boxes, speakers, and more.

“We’re going to have speakers who will share their experiences with the same type of situation, and let them know they aren’t alone,” Gooden said. “We’re also going to have lunch; we’ll have a taco bar catered by Granny’s Lunchbox.”

Gooden noted there will also be door prizes.

“We will have some really great door prizes,” Gooden said. “There are three that are just amazing, and some smaller ones too.”

The Guardian Angel event is aimed at people who are raising children of parents who cannot do so for one reason or another.

“Nowadays it seems like there are a lot of people who are raising children who have been affected by multiple things, either drugs or alcohol or just one parent has passed away and the other parent cannot carry the whole load by themselves,” Gooden explained. “We have grandparents, aunts, uncles, foster care, and community members that are stepping up and caring for these children.”

Gooden mentioned in her personal life she has seen guardians make sacrifices so the children do not go without important items and care.

“This event is for anybody who is considered a guardian and is raising someone else’s child for whatever reason,” Gooden said.

Gooden had the idea for such an event when she took the position of Harlan County Casey’s Law Advocate. She explained the matter is important to her because she is in recovery herself, having been sober for approximately six years.

“It was something I had a vision for, because as I’ve mentioned I’m in long term recovery,” Gooden said. “When I mentioned it to the Recovery Infrastructure Development team, they thought it was a great idea…I worked very closely with the team members from Harlan ARH, the team partners from MCHC (Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation) and we all pulled together to make this possible.”

The release states the event is sponsored by Harlan ARH Hospital. The event’s highlights will include:

  • A complimentary lunch and free food boxes will be available to attendees, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the day without worry;
  • Valuable resources and support will be offered by several attending vendors;
  • Exclusive giveaways: The first 50 attendees will receive a free Guardian Angels T-Shirt, and there will be door prizes and giveaways throughout the day;
  • Transportation assistance: The CAA is providing free transportation for attendees. Interested parties should call 606-573-5331 to arrange their ride;
  • Special Guest Speakers: Bobbie Tomas, Operations Managers at the Hope Center, Jason Mills, Pastor at the Kildav Community Church, and Andrew Hager, the founder of Blameless Children, will be delivering insightful talks.

“One of the main points we want to get across to these guardians is that they are not alone,” Gooden said. “They are noticed. They are appreciated. They are raising the future leaders of Harlan County. They are so important. I want this to be a day that they do get the resources they need.”

The Guardian Angels event will take place at the Harlan Civic Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 24. For more information, contact Mandy Gooden at 606-505-0519 or via email at mandy.gooden@outlook.com.