Despite losing its primary funding donor, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Awareness Foundation leaders have found other donors who may step up to the plate, with a condition.

The foundation has to find a new program administrator, who can move the program forward. An RFQ process has been established here to identify the organization or administrator.

Dr. Adriane Johnson-Williams (Courtesy photo)

“We knew there would be an issue with funding after such a difficult year,” said Dr. Adriane Johnson-Williams, the foundation’s board chair.

Added Executive Director Dr. Renee Wilson-Simmons, “ACEs is losing its primary funding source, an anonymous donor. But I still have hope for the future. Our services are needed, and we are committed to providing them.”

Since the first cases were detected in the United States in February, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken some 380,000 American lives. There have been 1,062 virus-related deaths, as of Wednesday (Jan. 13), in Shelby County since March, according to Shelby County Health Department.

The pandemic has disrupted citizen’s daily comings and goings, negatively impacted workplaces and businesses. And, in some cases, has hurt charitable giving

Dr. Renee Wilson-Simmons (Courtesy photo)

Wilson-Simmons’ hope was not altogether misplaced. Following the foundation’s funding announcement in December, Wilson-Simmons said two new donors have expressed interest in keeping one of the four Universal Parenting Places (UPP) open, provided that a new program director is found.

UPPs are sites where ACE prevention services are provided.

The foundation’s outreach acknowledges the pertinent role of emotional trauma in mental, physical and behavioral health in the family dynamic. Strategies are devised and implemented as workable, innovative solutions to the toxicity caused by trauma in the family dynamic.

The parenting places are havens were adults, especially parents, can come to relieve the stress generated by the trauma.

Dissolution of ACE Awareness Foundation is still slated for March 31, but identifying a new site operator who can move the Universal Parenting Places through a new phase, will allow program services to continue.

“Although the foundation is still dissolving at the end of March, we are grateful there is an opportunity for at least one UPP site to continue operations,” said Wilson-Simmons. “Future expansion is even being discussed by these wonderful donors.”

The ACE Awareness Foundation and the first two UPPs opened in 2015. Since then, two additional sites were added. Together they have provided more than 5,000 counseling sessions, while receiving state and national recognition for their approach in ACEs prevention.

Wilson-Simmons said the new, smaller venture will provide great opportunities for families already receiving services, to continue those services, and new families to benefit from the preventive counseling and stress-reducing services the site will offer.

Future UPP sites and organizations responsible for operating them will require the approval of the new donors. Both benefactors have requested that their identities remain anonymous until the new site operator is chosen.

Organizations interested in serving as the future site operator can begin the application process at aceawareness.org.

More details are available on the ACE Awareness Foundation and Universal Parenting Place social media pages.

“We are extremely grateful to our (original) anonymous donor, who has made this work possible,” said Johnson-Williams. “All four sites will be experiencing a step-down of services until the late March closure.”

These are the sites scheduled to close:

  • UPP at Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women, 6225 Humphreys Blvd., the only freestanding women’s hospital in Memphis.
  • UPP at Knowledge Quest, 990 College Park Drive, Suite 104, a nonprofit organization that promotes youth and community development in South Memphis.
  • UPP at Perea School, 1250 Vollintine Ave., operated by Church Health, the largest faith-based healthcare organization of its kind in the nation.
  • UPP at Christ Community Health Services, 3481 Austin Peay Highway, the largest primary healthcare provider in Shelby County.