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VP of Palmer Home Devotes Life to Finding Homes for Children

By Madison Garvey
Hottytoddy.com intern

Sarah Hollis, vice president of Palmer Home for Children, has devoted her career to helping Mississippi children who grew up in unfortunate family situations. Palmer Home for Children is a nonprofit organization located in Columbus and Hernando, Mississippi that provides a safe place for children in need.

Sarah Hollis (far right) and friends at Tailgate for Palmer 2018. Photo courtesy of Sarah Hollis.

Having grown up in Mississippi, Hollis said she was always familiar with the Palmer Home organization. She became involved four years ago when a friend introduced her. She has been working with Palmer Home for three and a half years now.

Hollis spearheaded Palmer Home’s big charity event, Tailgate for Palmer. This year was the third annual Tailgate for Palmer held at the Olivia and Archie Manning Performance Center on Oct. 27. Everyone gathered in tents set up inside the Manning Center to enjoy SEC football, food and fun.

“We saw Oxford as a great middle ground between our two campuses in Hernando and Columbus. Oxford is a very giving community, not only from a financial aspect but from a relational aspect to encourage foster families to step up and get involved,” Hollis said.

Palmer Home supports a wide range of children, from newborns all the way to college students. 

Hollis said she wants to spend her career at Palmer Home and believes the next 10 years hold great things for Palmer Home and the children.

Children playing basketball at Palmer Home for Children. Photo via the Palmer Home website.

“In 10 years I know two campuses will be intact and robust,” she said. “We are adding buildings to our campuses so we will see growth from a capital standpoint, but where we really will see growth is by foster care. We have families stand up and say they want to take a child in, whether it leads to adoption or not. Their long term commitment to that child is what is really important.”

Ashley Gray, vice president of Children’s Services, explains the importance of the Houseparents involvement with Palmer Home. Houseparents care for children in a residential setting and use a professional, team-oriented, trauma-informed approach to provide a safe, healing, homelike environment, according to the Palmer Home website. 

“They are the backbone of Palmer Home,” Gray said.

Recently, one of the houseparent couples took a van of 13 children to Tallahassee to serve. The family spent the weekend cooking meals, alongside Operation Barbeque, for those who were victims of the hurricane. They cooked for between 7,000 – 10,000 people per day, cleaned dishes, loaded boxes, and slept in tents in a mall parking lot.

“It was a selfless act and very impactful on the lives of those in Tallahassee and our children,” Gray said.

Setting Themselves Apart to Bring Others Together

Palmer Home does not accept any state or federal funding but are privately funded, which is why fundraisers like Tailgate for Palmer are so important, Hollis said. Another important aspect of Palmer Home is their ability to keep sibling groups together through the state or other agencies.

“I am the oldest of four kids so I cannot imagine the difficulty of losing my parents and also losing my siblings, too,” Hollis said.

One specific family story that stood out to Hollis was of three girls who were living in Nashville. They were with their mother living out of cars, on people’s couches and in hotel rooms. Everyday was a different location and scenario, Hollis said. Palmer Home was able to give the girls their own beds, toothbrushes, clothing and a steady living situation where they knew where they were going to be every night.

“It really changed their lives,” Hollis said.

Working for Palmer Home has had an impact on Hollis’ family life, she said. She is married and has two boys that are 7 and 10 years old.

“Something that really drew me into Palmer Home was that I wanted my children to see what else is going on out there in the world. They are in their own little bubble and have everything they have ever wanted. For them to see there are children that have had a rough going already at five years old helps show them to be a little more mindful of how much we have and how much we should be giving back,” she said.

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