CEDARS has been helping kids in crisis and building strong families in our community for 70 years. Its Lincoln roots go back to the Post World War Two period, according to President Jim Blue. “It’s an organization that has a tremendous impact on children and families; thousands every year.”
CEDARS began in a house at 15th and Benton Street in Northwest Lincoln. The Reverend Charles Danner and his wife Alberta began taking in children who had no other safe place to spend the night. “The movement just grew to where CEDARS is proud to be a recognized foundation of our community.” Blue said it’s not a new idea. “We’re an old idea, hopefully done very, very well. We’re about taking care of kids who are in desperate situations, and helping their families to be strong for them.”
The services provided by CEDARS have also evolved. “We understand that most people recognize CEDARS as a place for kids who have no safe place to spend the night.” An average of over 300 kids are sheltered by CEDARS every night. “If you look back, that would be a really big Victorian style orphanage” said Blue. Today, the majority of those kids are cared for in foster homes here in our community.
The need has also remained constant, he said. “I am so thankful that kids who can’t live at home can live with foster families.” Blue said they have a constant need for more foster families. “We’re turning down dozens of kids each week.”
Beyond out-of-home care, CEDARS also works with families to help them stay together. “Another 700 kids, we are serving their families while the kids remain in the home. “ CEDARS provides these services through early childhood education, parenting education, and a variety of in-home services to try to strengthen the family environment so the child can grow up safe and healthy.
Keeping a family together or bringing the family back together again is always the preference, according to Blue. “To remove the child from their parents’ care is a traumatic event in a child’s life” he said. “I talk to older folks who tell me they remember CEDARS because they were removed from their parents’ care. We want kids to know their parents love them, and have the means to support them, so we always try to support families as they are.”
Over 200 employees work to carry out the mission of CEDARS. But CEDARS relies on the community to help do this important work. Funding for CEDARS services comes from as many as 125 different sources, according to Blue. Government funding covers some of the cost, but grants and donations are important as well. “Everyone can go to Google, type in ‘CEDARS Lincoln’, and we’ll make it really easy for folks to help us do our work. They can donate, or they can volunteer to help.” A phone call to CEDARS will also yield information about how you can help.
CEDARS has been a vital part of the community for 70 years. What started as a grassroots effort to provide safe refuge to children and youth who had no other safe place to spend the night has grown into a dynamic and dedicated team of over 200 professionals serving thousands of kids and families each year. For more information call 402-434-KIDS (5437) or visit www.cedarskids.org.