The SPARK: Breaking Barriers to Build Successful Futures

The theme of The SPARK December 2020 is “Breaking Barriers to Build Successful Futures.” Jeremy C. Park interviews Jennifer Balink, Executive Director of Kindred Place, a counseling and education center for adults and children in the Greater Memphis area; Mark Ottinger, Executive Director of Memphis Family Connection Center, an organization providing connection based trauma informed care to the Shelby County, TN adoptive, foster care and special needs community; and Kit Crighton-Smith, Founder of Women Build 901 Too, a collaborative effort to get more women involved in the construction industry here in the Mid-South. Plus, a profile of Jon Neal, the Individual-Adult honoree from the 2019 SPARK Awards.


Sometimes to build successful futures, we first have to break down barriers. Those can be personal relationship barriers between adopted and foster children and their parents, which the Memphis Family Connection Center is working to heal so families can build trust and children can grow and thrive. Barriers can be a result of family conflict, anger and violence, or lack of communication, which Kindred Place is addressing through their two-generation model with counseling, group therapy, anger management classes, parenting support and conflict resolution. Or, barriers can be professional, like within the construction industry, which is why it’s so important that Women Build 901 Too is shattering glass ceilings and working with other organizations to recruit, mentor and train more women to get involved in construction and literally building the future for our city. So, thank you to our guests who are breaking barriers to build successful futures and to all of you who continue to power the GOOD.

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