The Community Empowerment Council (CEC) received $300 from Brookshire’s/Super 1 Foods for the council’s foster youth program.


“This $300 will greatly help us get with essentials to serve all the students who are in the program,” (CEC) Executive Director Jermaine Anderson said in a news release.


“The kids come from all over the state. All of them are coming from difficult life situations. It means so much that the community has come together,” he said.


Anderson added that Walmart, Entergy and now Brookshire’s has assisted in making children’s lives a bit easier.


Founded in 2009, CEC began as a housing alternative for foster youth in the state to incorporate and develop an operational structure that provides temporary emergency shelter, residential housing, individual family and group counseling to youth.


The agency also aims to provide services to increase safety, independence, behavior management, emotional modification, survival skills and education importance to help youth build permanent connections with caring adults at home and in their community, according to the release.


The release also explained that foster homes impact the lives of more than 5,113 youth in Arkansas.


“Jefferson County had 233 at the end of 2017 with increasing numbers in 2018. According to Arkansas Health and Human Services report for 2017, the numbers in Arkansas increased 21.9 percent since 2011,” according to the news release.


Children are removed from their homes for several reasons, including abuse and neglect as well as parents who are incarcerated or in drug rehabilitation.


“The Community Empowerment Council Inc. in Pine Bluff, AR, strengthens the infrastructure of support in the community, providing and facilitating an array of services to meet the needs of runaway and homeless youth and their families,” according to the release.


“CEC’s emergency shelter called ‘Margie’s House’ provides male clients, ages 6 to 18, with emergency housing, food, clothing, counseling, mentorship, case management, life planning skills, safety, vocational education training (carpentry, brick masonry, flooring, and computer aided drafting), transportation, tutoring, health and wellness, personal hygiene, referrals for health care and transportation to schools and local providers of health care,” according to the release.


Margie’s House is licensed for clients to stay 30-90 days. The house consists of 18 bed — nine beds for residential and nine emergency beds.


Anderson’s House & Riley’s House is licensed for female clients ages 8 to 18 and consists of 12 beds. The agency provides food, shelter, mentorship, tutoring, case management, mental health (individual and group therapy), and access to health care and dental providers.


“We teach life-planning skills and provide an array of extracurricular activities such as sports, proper etiquette, life skills, choir, and positive youth development attributes,” Anderson said.


In addition, a partnership with the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas was established and began in January 2019 for additional resources of the institution’s exhibits, curriculum and projects to be shared on a regular basis with CEC’s foster youth programs.


“We have embraced our role in caring for the youth of Arkansas with our services here in Jefferson County, but to really give the youth the best situations to thrive and not just to survive, we need the help of the community,” Anderson said. “For community partners like Brookshire’s/ Super1 Foods, we are truly grateful.”


Details: Community Empowerment Council, www.cecemp.org, CEC office, 870-536-8484, or Jermaine Anderson, 870-489-2315.