The following is an interview with Pam Smith, Founder and Executive Director of All God’s Children, Inc. (AGC) in Nicholasville, Kentucky. She is an amazing woman who inspires me with a heart for teenage mothers. One minute she can be found hugging a baby and the next telling it straight to a teenage girl who is trying her hardest to fight against the love she is not used to receiving. Pam knows how to give tough love, which has helped sustain AGC for 20 years now!
Tell us a little about yourself. I am a Christian woman in her 50’s who has always been passionate about issues and conflicts surrounding crisis pregnancies and parenting. To me, motherhood is one of the highest callings on earth and should be treated thusly. My strengths are empathy, adaptability, connectedness, and belief (I love StrengthsFinder).
What inspired you to start All God’s Children? I am the Director and Founder of All God’s Children (AGC). We are a twenty-year-old non-profit organization in Nicholasville, Kentucky. Out of my family’s personal home, we worked with and housed girls in crisis pregnancies. We also housed babies born addicted to drugs or alcohol. As a typical medium income, urban, stay-at-home mom, I could not get the resources these children needed. Things like Christian counseling, daycare while teens were in school, etc… Through a lot of prayers, a supportive church, and wonderful people, my family took a leap of faith to open a group home for teen moms.
What is All God’s Children now? Today AGC is a child and family serving non-profit agency meeting the needs of around 50 children per day. These children are a part of the over 8,000 children in Kentucky’s foster care system. We have a Residential Treatment Group Home, Community Foster-Care Program, Pre Independent Living Program, and a 3-Star Daycare. All are nationally accredited. We serve children birth through twenty-one and their families.
What is your favorite part of All God’s Children? My husband and I have always known, AGC is more than just the children. Our staff of 45 are incredible women (mostly women…we do have two men) who work hard for others on very little. My favorite part of the agency has changed over the 20 years. At first, it was all about the teen moms and children. Now it’s working with our committed staff and reaching out to the community.
What are some challenges you’ve faced? As a non-profit, money is always an issue, but I have never worried about having the resources to continue. God has always provided. As any business does, we have struggled with staffing issues and families of those we are trying to help. I would say the biggest challenge for me, personally, is keeping my eyes on God. At times, I tend to have an idea and run with it before praying or discussing with our full team of very talented treatment staff.
What inspires you to continue your work? The need is present and growing. In the beginning, we just thought of our work as keeping children safe. Now my priority is on teaching nurturing parenting skills to help stop cycles of abuse, neglect, poverty, substance abuses, etc…
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to pursue ministry as a couple? Be able to pray together every morning and every evening without exception or do NOT attempt. It will tear your marriage apart if God is not in the middle. I will admit, we have struggled at times.
What advice do you have for anyone who works with teenagers? Not much unless they are parenting teenagers. These teens have enough with school and taking care of their child. I would advise concentrating on finishing school if possible.
Author’s Side Note: I had the privilege of working with Pam and this amazing agency for 2 years while in graduate school. Those two years transformed me. It required me to put aside selfishness. Love those who said they hated me. Open my eyes to a world of trauma beyond imagination. Changed me from shy and quiet to someone who loves connecting with new people. Challenged me to consider creating a similar program here in Wisconsin. Each one of those girls and staff members, especially Pam, played a major part in who I am today. Pam and Karl Smith took a chance on a shy and quiet 21-year-old girl. Left her in charge of a house full of teenage girls and their children. Believed that I could do it – despite the challenges I would face. A lesson I have learned from them is believe in your teenage girls and young adults. Your belief gives them the confidence to believe they truly can do anything.