Article provided by Catholic Extension
MONTGOMERY — Brenda Withers Hicks, who serves as administrator of the Father Purcell Memorial Exceptional Children’s Center in Montgomery, is being recognized for her ministry.
The children’s center is a skilled pediatric nursing home for 58 developmentally disabled children in Montgomery and Brenda has been named one of eight finalists for the Catholic Extension’s Lumen Christi Award.
The award honors an individual or group working in an Extension Diocese who demonstrates how the power of faith can transform lives and communities. Catholic Extension raises and distributes funds to support U.S. mission dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Mobile.
Catholic Extension has been supporting the work and ministries of mission dioceses since its founding in 1905 and the Lumen Christi is the highest honor bestowed by Catholic Extension.
As a finalist for the award, Hicks will receive at least $10,000 to support the children’s center. The winner will be announced later this fall and will receive a $50,000 grant.
‘This is my family’
Hicks’ three-hour commute to and from the Father Purcell Memorial Exceptional Children’s Center (FPM), in Montgomery, is just part of her daily journey for the last 12 years. The 58 children and adults served at the center and the dedicated staff look to her leadership, compassion and, most importantly, love. “This is my family,” she says when asked about those she cares for.
As the center’s administrator, Hicks is responsible for the 80 staff members who care for individuals with severe developmental disabilities.
The center is a skilled nursing home that provides custodial care, medical treatment and rehabilitation services for patients, primarily children, of all races and creeds from around the U.S.
Tears come to her eyes as she describes the children in her care. Most cannot walk and many are non-communicative. Some of these children have been left at the center’s front door by parents simply overwhelmed by their needs who had nowhere else to turn. “We are the last stop,” she says.
Ms. Hicks has always had a special place in her heart for children.
As the youngest of 12, Brenda grew up surrounded by a loving, supportive family. As an adult, she understands the positive impact a strong support system makes in the lives of both children and adults. This realization prompted her to leave her job at a textile factory, earn a degree in nursing, and become a licensed nursing home administrator.
A place of their own
The center has seen an increase in demand year after year, a demand they cannot meet. Last year, the center turned away 25 children. Not deterred, Hicks and the team at FPM are now hard at work raising vital funds to expand the capacity of the center to meet this growing need.