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Children waiting

A closing reception for the Heart Gallery’s “Alabama’s Waiting Children” exhibit will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 16, at the Cultural Arts Studio at the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Complex. The public is invited to view this heart-touching exhibition.

Miss Troy University Marjorie Yessick will speak about her platform to help Heart Gallery Alabama find permanent, loving families for the children in Alabama’s foster care system.

When Yessick decided to compete in the Miss Alabama preliminary, she began to look for a platform that was close to her heart.

“I’m adopted and so is my sister who is 10 years older,” Yessick said. “I wanted to do something that related to adoption or foster care and I needed an outlet where I could focus all of my attention. So, I talked with a DHR representative in Tuscaloosa, where I’m from, and she suggested Heart Gallery, which is a private, non-profit organization. Professional photographers volunteer their time to take photographs of the foster children so these photographs can be displayed in galleries across the state.

“Prospective parents are invited to view the exhibit and to hear audio interviews with these children so they can know something about a child before they ever sit down and talk to him or her.”

Sara Jo Burks, a director of the Miss Troy University pageant, said Yessick is an outstanding advocate for the children in Alabama’s foster care system.

“Her platform is to help Heart Gallery Alabama find permanent, loving families for children in Alabama’s foster care system,” Burks said. “The ‘Alabama’s Waiting Children’ exhibit is a way to bring these children to public attention.”

Potential families or families who just want to know more about the children in Alabama’s foster care system are invited to attend the closing reception and hear Yessick’s remarks.

“Those who attend the event will be invited to browse the exhibit of about 40 photographs and see if any of the waiting children look like they might be a fit for their families,” Burks said. “They may also call on their cell phone and hear a recording of that child’s voice telling about himself or herself. This exhibit is a great way to learn more about these children and about Heart Gallery of Alabama.”

Michelle Bearman-Wolnek, Heart Gallery co-founder and executive director, said the exhibit is geared for anyone who is interested in adoption, foster care or for any who would like to help with the cause.

“I’m looking forward to this event as it will provide much needed awareness to adoption and foster care in Alabama,” Bearman-Wolnek said.

“I hope this exhibit will increase interest in adoption and/or fostering, which will provide more children with homes and loving families.”

Heart Gallery of Alabama was started by local child advocates in February 2005. Its purpose is to promote adoption and foster care for more than 6,000 children who are currently in Alabama’s foster care system.