Friday, December 21, 2012

CAS Offices: Holiday Hours

Our Children's Aid offices across Alabama will be closed December 24-26 and January 1.

We wish you and your family a wonderful and safe holiday season!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Summit Conference: January 31

 Summit VIII
Prevent, Protect, and Serve

Thursday, January 31
8:00 am - 4:00 pm 
Canterbury United Methodist Church
350 Overbrook Road
Birmingham, AL 35213

Registration Fee: $60 includes Snacks, Lunch, Conference Materials
Register by: January 18
CEU pending approval. 

Target Audience: Professionals (social workers, nurses, counselors, home visitors) working with children, families and adults in crisis.

Objectives: After completion of this conference, professionals will:
1) Have a greater understanding of how recent budget cuts may impact different segments of the population including children and those with specific needs such as those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
2)Learn more about ways their agencies can continue to provide services during difficult times such as using volunteers and networking with other agencies in their communities.
3)Learn specific information about the resources available in the community for specific populations such as children, those with Alzheimer’s Disease, those with Autism, and those in need of furnishings among others.
4)Will gain specific information about issues impacting the community such as Internet Safety, Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking and Childhood Obesity.

Expected Attendance: 175

** Register online**

Contact Linda Stephenson if you have questions: 205-324-6561

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Make a Difference for Families in Alabama

As we celebrate the holiday season, we reflect on our past and how we have evolved as an agency. Many things have changed throughout our 100 years, but our core values remain steadfast.

Our purpose is to help children by strengthening the families who care for them. There is no such thing as a perfect family. But in a child's eyes, their family has every chance to be perfect. CAS tries to help all of our families be their child's best advocates for their future.

Words on a page cannot begin to describe the families that CAS encounters. It all begins and ends with a story.  
"We were moved and inspired by our CAS worker's belief in us. We worked hard to complete the tasks assigned to us so that we would be able to keep our kids. I finished all of my drug abuse prevention classes, got my GED, and my driver's license. All of the hard work was worth it."
We believe we can best help children by strengthening the families who raise them. In the absence of any other fundraisers this year, this holiday appeal takes on even more meaning for our agency.  

We ask that you please consider a gift to our agency and appreciate all of your support.

Monday, December 17, 2012

December Staff Spotlight: LeAnn Oliver

LeAnn Oliver joined the Children’s Aid team in April 2007 as a unit supervisor in our FOCUS program. Leann says “ I was ready for a change. I had been working in mental health for 7 years and felt there was no room for personal or professional growth. A friend of mine at the Department of Human Resources told me about an opening at CAS as a Supervisor and encouraged me to apply.” 

The staff LeAnn supervises help keep kids out of foster care by providing intensive services aimed at keeping vulnerable families together. Due to the intensity of these services, her typical day requires her to be flexible. She helps staff troubleshoot their cases, works with partnering agencies, helps keep the program on track through documentation, and serves her community by serving on other child‐focused committees. LeAnn describes her job at CAS as “a perfect fit.” 

Away from work, LeAnn enjoys spending time playing her with her children. Her parents, who she considers her biggest heroes, influence her as she works to raise her kids. Her children are also very special to her because she considers their adoption to be her greatest achievement.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Civitan International Supports CAS

We're so grateful for the generous members of Civitan International whose members donated gifts for the  young families we serve across the state!

The Birmingham Civitan Club meets at Jim & Nick's Restaurant in Homewood at 6:30pm, on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Visitors are always welcome!

Civitan International is an organization of volunteer service clubs around the world, dedicated to helping people in their own communities. Civitans help wherever the need arises - from collecting food for a homeless shelter, to volunteering at their local retirement home, to building a playground for children with disabilities. Civitans have been helping people since the organization’s founding in 1917, by a group of business leaders determined to making a difference in their community. 

Please consider your own holiday donation to Children's Aid!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Free Webinar: Sibling Rivalry

If you have siblings, you have probably experienced sibling rivalry. In most cases, sibling rivalry is healthy and normal, and siblings tend to be more agreeable as they mature; however, for parents to be able to help themselves and their children get through sibling rivalry, it is important to understand some key causes and factors.

This webinar explores factors that influence sibling rivalry and offers parents and caregivers healthy discipline techniques and other creative ways to improve family and sibling relationships. It also discusses the unique dynamics of sibling rivalry among foster and adoptive families. 

Tuesday, December 18
Trainer: Patricia Corbitt, LCSW  

Register Now Online! 

CEUs available for the following:

  • Adoptive Parents
  • Foster Parents
  • Social Workers
  • Counselors 

CAS is an approved CE Provider NBCC #6459 ABSWE #0039

If you have any questions, please contact Brock Sellers at

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Independent Living Networking Conference

Join us for our statewide Independent Living staff networking conference. The purpose of the conference is to increase the knowledge of the Independent Living Program for DHR staff and other professionals working the ILP Residential programs.

One hundred slots will be designated for DHR county and state office staff, provided at no charge to DHR staff. Other professionals in the state who work with IL youth, such as residential providers, IL contract providers, and other private professionals will also be able to attend for a nominal fee.

January 22-23, 2013 
Hilton Birmingham 

Learn more about this upcoming conference 
by visiting IL Connect.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Importance of Talking to Your Child about Adoption

In the past, it was believed that parents should not tell their children that they were adopted. Parents felt that telling their child would upset him and that the child would feel different. Many parents were also afraid that their child would reject them.

Today, many parents continue to have the same fears, but experts now believe that it is important to tell the child she was adopted as early as possible, and that the repercussions of not telling may have damaging effects on their relationship. Despite various reasons why parents may not feel comfortable talking to their child about being adopted, the longer they do not tell the truth, the more difficult the conversation becomes. When the conversation does not occur, parents are in a position where they choose to lie to their child or may be evasive in talking with them. Children are very perceptive and read body language. They can tell if a parent is uncomfortable or is avoiding a specific topic.

A common reason parents do not talk to their child about adoption is they don’t know how to start the conversation. The conversation will need to be revisited many times during the child’s life and needs to be developmentally appropriate based on the age of the child.

 Below are some recommendations adapted from Explaining Adoption to Your Child by the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (
  • Convey to your child that the circumstances leading to the adoption were not his fault. Children’s magical thinking often leads them to believe that their bad behavior or thoughts caused the relinquishment, parental death, or divorce. 
  • Children sometimes believe they were placed for adoption because they were not good enough to be kept. If your child was adopted as an infant, emphasize the fact the birthmother probably chose adoption long before your child’s birth, and did this because she cared about her child and wanted her to have what she could not give her. 
  • Don’t say, “Your birth mother loves you, but…” because love will be equated with abandonment very early in life. The birthmother may have been a wonderful and caring person, but the bottom line was that she could not parent a child at that time in her life. 
  • Don’t use the poverty explanation for your child being placed. Saying “your birthmother was poor” may cause negative feelings. Children are likely to feel sorry for the birthmother and feel guilty about being adopted, thinking “Why didn’t someone help her to keep me?” 
  • Don’t depict your family as “savior” of your child, which may place a burden on the child. 
  • If your child was adopted as an older child, the emphasis is likely to be on the fact that the parent was unable to parent because of various problems. 
  • Do stress the fact that these problems were unrelated to your child, but made the parent incapable of being an adequate parent to any child at that time. 
CAS's APAC program has many resources to assist adoptive parents with initiating and continuing this conversation. Give us a call at 866-803-2722 or email us at for more information.  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Breakfast & Auction

Join us for the 10th Annual Larry Blankensopp Memorial Christmas Breakfast & Auction!

Friday, December 7 
Hueytown Community Center
2500 Brooklane Drive, Hueytown, 35023

Breakfast: 8am ($10) Auction: 9am-10am

Proceeds benefit Children’s Aid Society, Just Keep Smiling Foundation & Lakeview School.  

Need more information? Nancy Blankensopp 205.428.7575 or


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Adoption Support Holiday Event

YOU’RE INVITED! Please join us our annual Birthparent & Adult Adoptee Support Group Holiday Gathering on Saturday, December 8.

Gayle Watts, CAS Executive Director, and adult adoptee will talk about her search for her birth mother. In addition, Diane Daffron, Director of Program Operations, will share her experiences while working in the adoption program in Children's Aid Society's early years.

There will be lots of food and fun! Please RSVP to Audrey Derevenko at (205) 943-5343 or

Thursday, November 1, 2012

National Adoption Month 2012

Every November is National Adoption Month. Every year has its own theme, decided upon by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, and it's funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This year's theme is "National Adoption Month--Virtually: Adoption in the Digital Age." While efforts each November always focus around educating, informing, and recruiting the public for foster care and for permanent adoptive homes, this is the first year that the focus has been on a new, modern method of connecting with communities across the country.

This short video explains how the 2012 National Adoption Month initiative helps connect agencies with resources they need to recruit and retain families, provide families with information to help them start the adoption process, and link youth to resources on staying connected with the important people in their lives.

Visit the National Adoption Month 2012 website for more information on how to get involved as a professional, a parent, or a youth.

Follow CAS on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to our blog to get updates throughout this month of celebration!

If you have specific questions about foster care or private adoption, please contact us at 205-251-7148 or

Monday, October 29, 2012

National Adoption Month Mini-Conferences

Our Alabama Pre/Post Adoption Connections program is hosting two mini-conferences in November in celebration of National Adoption Month.

Wednesday, November 7
Mobile County Department of Human Resources
3103 Airport Blvd.
Mobile, AL 36606

8:00am: Registration
8:30am: Conference
Sessions Include: 
  • Effective Behavior Management Techniques for Children with Special Needs, Jules Starr, MS BCBA (Program Director, Woody's Song)
  • Effects of Domestic Violence on Children and Techniques for Intervention, Jennifer Weed, LCSW (Children's Therapist, Penelope House)
  • Understanding the Link Between Early Childhood Trauma and Brain Development, Barry Swope, MS LPC (Managing Member, Focal Point Counseling)
  • Strategies for Healing Trauma Based Behaviors, Barry Swope, MS LPC
Lunch (on your own - a list of local restaurants will be available for your convenience.)

Click Here to Register for the Mobile Mini-Conference

Friday, November 9
Alabama Public Library Service
6030 Monticello Drive
Montgomery, AL 36117

8:30am: Registration
9:00am: Conference
Sessions include: 
  • Special Education Advocacy: Lorraine Barnes, ALPIRC
  • Cyber Safety: CyberKids Program, Troy University
  • Adoption Triad Panel: Amy Kenney, Adult Adoptee; Kerri Moore, Adoptive Parent; Betsy Emmerson, International Adoptive Parent; Lamar Bates, Foster Care Alumni; and a Birth Mother
Lunch: Honey Baked Ham will be on site with boxed lunches (PRE-ORDERS ONLY)

Click Here to Register for the Montgomery Mini-Conference

Children's Aid Society/APAC offers free Social Worker and Counselor CEUs as well as certificates for adoptive and foster parents. CAS is an approved CEU provider by the Alabama Board of Social Work Examiners and the National Board of Certified Counselors.

For more information about these mini-conferences, please contact:
Mobile - 251-460-2727 or
Montgomery - 334-409-9477 or

Friday, October 26, 2012

Our Main Office Is Moving

Our central CAS office in the metro Birmingham area is relocating from Homewood to Birmingham in the Southside area.

Our new address is
2141 14th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35205

All of our staff's direct telephone numbers and the main telephone number, 205-251-7148, will remain the same. However, our office will be closed until Wednesday, October 31 while we make our transition.

If you have any needs during this time, please email us at

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Free Webinar: The Importance Of Healthy Attachment

Children who have had serious disruptions of care in the first years of life, including separation from birth parents and/or multiple moves, are at major risk of not developing healthy attachment. This factor has significant implications for children and strongly determines how they develop in other areas of their lives. This webinar will address how such disruptions affect brain development, as well as how the natural attachment process helps a child develop empathy; cause and effect thinking; and the ability to manage feelings. Practical tools will also be discussed in order to nurture healthy attachment with the children who need it most.

CEUs available for the following:
  • Adoptive Parents
  • Foster Parents
  • Social Workers
  • Counselors 
CAS is an approved CE Provider NBCC #6459 ABSWE #0039

Trainer: Lindsey Gurley, LGSW, is a Family Support Worker for APAC. She obtained her Master's of Social Work from the University of Alabama. In addition to working at APAC, Lindsey also teaches social welfare courses at the University of Mobile. She enjoys recruiting promising students to the social work profession. Prior to working at APAC, Lindsey earned experience working with adults and children with cognitive disabilities and emotional and behavioral disturbances. She also had the privilege of working at a therapeutic foster care program and family preservation program as a clinical supervisor. She is a mother of three and knows firsthand how challenging parenting can be, so she enjoys the opportunity to educate and support foster and adoptive parents in Alabama.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Extended Family and Adoption

The introduction of an adopted or foster child to a family can be a challenging and overwhelming experience for all involved. The way your extended family responds to the child often depends on how well you have prepared them. General information that you can share about the effects of trauma, and abuse and neglect on a child, can be very useful and a deterrent to assumptions that your family members may have before meeting your child.

Here are a few suggestions on how to prepare them: 

· Discuss the reasons you are adopting or fostering, not for the purpose of obtaining permission, but in order to further their understanding. 
· Explain the unique experiences of an adopted or fostered child.  This can be done without a lot of detail, by focusing on the reality of the child’s birthparent not being in his/her life, and the potentially challenging transition to the presence of a new parent in the child’s life. 
· The child may not respond to the family as the family may anticipate. The child may be withdrawn, suspicious, angry, sad, or demanding. All of these behaviors and many more are indicative of the child’s fear, not necessarily of the child’s acceptance or rejection of the family. 
· If the child is engaging in disruptive behaviors, this might require further education, so the extended family understands the difficulty a child may encounter in trying to feel safe and attached to their new family.  It is easy to identify with a child suffering a severe physical condition, but can be very difficult to comfort and embrace a child suffering an emotional condition that is not visible to the naked eye.  Adoptive parents are instrumental in helping extended family to view the behavior through that lens.
· Language can be a factor. Extended family can be educated on the language of adoption, such as ‘forever family,’ ‘birth sibling’, ‘termination of parental rights’, and ‘made an adoption plan’.  The use of positive adoption language is very important to show the child that they are accepted, loved and that they are not being judged by their past.
· Another factor that may emerge is prejudice held by extended family regarding ethnicity. Prejudices are based on ignorance. Education of those family members can be helpful. Part of this education is explaining why the difference in ethnicity is not an issue for the parents themselves. 

There may be, however, some extended family members who remain difficult and judgmental regardless of the information they receive. Parents should make a decision about how to handle this circumstance.  Limiting contact may be an option. Another option is to prepare a script and coach the child (if developmentally appropriate) on how to relate to these difficult family members. If there is contact with difficult or non-committed family members, it is important to remember that an adopted or foster child is usually very aware of nonverbal messages and will often feel rejected. The parents need to be prepared in advance for this and coach the child that what they are observing is about the adult, not about anything the child has done. 

In a perfect world, extended family would embrace this adopted or fostered child as one of their own.  The reality of this world is that there are difficulties. The challenge for adoptive parents is to be advocates for all their children and the challenge for extended family is to be unconditional in their respect for all family members.      

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Free Parenting Classes: Jefferson, Shelby Counties

Children’s Aid Society’s E.P.I.C. Program is providing FREE S.T.E.P. Parenting trainings to Jefferson or Shelby County parents with children between the ages of 0 and 5 years. Groups will be held weekly for 8-10 weeks at the CAS Birmingham office and the materials will be available in English and Spanish.

Sessions address a range of important topics:
  • Understanding Young Children 
  • Understanding Young Children's Behavior
  •  Building Self-Esteem in the Early Years 
  • Communicating With Young Children 
  • Helping Young Children Learn to Cooperate 
  • Effective Discipline 
  • Nurturing Emotional and Social Development 
The classes are designed to help strengthen each group member’s parenting by providing skills training to parents. The program encourages a more democratic parenting style of providing children choices and fostering responsibility, improving communication between parent and child, and helping children learn through natural and logical consequences. Additional topics including Shaken Baby Prevention, Safe Sleep, and Smoking Cessation will also be discussed.
  • Food and Childcare Available 
  • Day and Evening Class Options
  • Available in English and Spanish 
  • Certificate Upon Completion 
  • Door Prize Opportunities for Attendees  
New Classes Begin: 
  • Monday, December 3, 10am
  • Tuesday, December 4, 6pm
To Register or Get More Information - Click Here.


Monday, September 10, 2012

September 18 Referendum: Vote Yes

CAS joins Governor Bentley and other groups who care for vulnerable children, youth, and families to urge its supporters and friends of children to go to the polls and vote YES for the amendment to move $437.4 million over three years from the Alabama Trust Fund to the General Fund to bridge support for Medicaid, Human Services, and Mental Health. This special referendum will take place September 18.

According to a recent article in The Birmingham News,
“voters will decide whether to approve a constitutional amendment taking $437 million out of a state trust fund to use in balancing the General fund budget for the next three years. Proponents say it will prevent big cutbacks in state services, while opponents say state officials are trying to delay tough spending decisions until after their election in 2014.” 
Without this temporary shift of resources, innocent children who live below the poverty level will suffer even more, likely hindering each family’s ability to shelter, feed, and clothe their children and to seek needed medical care for them.

We encourage our elected and appointed officials to continue to seek long term solutions to address ways to reduce burdens for Alabama citizens living in poverty so these kinds of crises can be avoided.

Detailed information about the special referendum can be found at Alabama Arise: For a review of the issues at stake and an explanation of the Alabama Arise position, see their updated fact sheet (PDF).

Children’s Aid Society joins Children’s Hospital and many other child and family serving agencies in support of the Amendment.

  • Children’s Hospital
  • Alabama Association of Realtors
  • Alabama’s District Attorneys
  • Alabama Education Association
  • Alabama Hospital Association
  • Alabama Association of Volunteer Fire Fighters
  • Alabama Nursing Home Association
  • Business Council of Alabama
  • Manufacture Alabama
  • Alabama Retail Association
  • Alabama State Employees Association
  • Birmingham News
  • Huntsville Times
  • Governor Robert Bentley
  • Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston
  • House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn
  • Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford, D-Russellville

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Value of Counseling After Adoption

A recent NPR feature "Helping Foster Kids Even After Adoption" highlighted the importance of adoptive families receiving assistance even after their adoption is finalized.
"...the largest number of adoptions in the U.S. is through the foster care system. That means toddlers, young children, even teens. Yet many in the field say the system does little to help families cope with the special issues a number of these children will face, even years after adoption."

Our Alabama Pre/Post Adoption Connections program provides statewide counseling and referral services for adoptive families and families awaiting adoption finalization. Services include intake, assessment, and up to 20 treatment sessions for families who have concerns related to their adoption. There are no fees related to this service.

One adoptive parent shares his thoughts about APAC counseling services:
"The regular counseling my son and I have received from APAC counselor Debra Fredenburg has been priceless and extremely valuable. The possibility of discussing problems and the adoption experience with a trained professional and kind, sympathetic soul has been the most extraordinary thing. APAC is a central part of my support network, and I don't know what I would have done without it. In a state where services have been cut to the bare bone, APAC is a shining example of high accomplishment and has helped many vulnerable children."
Contact any of the members of our APAC counseling team for more information.

Huntsville Area
Patricia Corbitt, LGSW

Birmingham Area
John M. Douglass, III, MA., LPC

Montgomery Area
Jill Sexton, M.Ed, ALC

Mobile Area
Debra Fredenburg, LCSW

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Metro Birmingham: Support CAS By Eating Pizza

Enjoy lunch or dinner at Slice Pizza on Tuesday, August 21, and 10% of the proceeds will benefit Children's Aid! Please invite your friends and family to visit Slice on this special day.   

Bring this blog post or download the flyer here and present either for CAS to receive credit. You can dine in or carry out. As long as you show the flyer, we can benefit!

Please help CAS, one slice at a time.

Slice Stone Pizza & Brew
725 29th Street South
Birmingham, AL  35223

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Adoptive Family Support Groups in Alabama

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Our Alabama Pre/Post Adoption Connections program offers support groups that meet throughout the state, providing education and social interaction for adoptive families. The groups are led by a therapist, and topics for discussion are chosen based on the group’s interests and needs. Children's support groups dealing with adoption issues are also available in most areas, as well as childcare.

All groups have teen/children’s groups and childcare during group sessions unless otherwise indicated.

Autauga/Elmore County-4th Tuesday
6-7:30pm @ Glynwood Baptist Church, Prattville

Baldwin County-3rd Thursday
6-7:30pm @ Eastern Shore Church of Christ, Daphne

Barbour County-3rd Monday
5:30-7pm @ First United Methodist Church, Eufaula

Calhoun County-2nd Thursday
6:30-8pm @ Greenbrier Church of Christ, Anniston

Dallas County-4th Monday
5:30-7pm @Dallas County Salvation Army, Selma

DeKalb County-4th Tuesday
6-7:30pm @ Fellowship Christian Center, Rainsville

Etowah County-3rd Monday
6-7:30pm @ Christ Central United Methodist

Geneva County-2nd Tuesday
6:30-8pm @ First United Methodist, Geneva (Adult group & childcare only)

Henry County-1st Tuesday
6-7:30pm @ Headland First Baptist, Headland

Houston County-4th Tuesday (On HOLD until July)
6:30-8pm @ Calvary Baptist, Dothan (Adult group & childcare only)

Jefferson County East-1st Thursday 
6-7:30pm @ Huffman United Methodist, Birmingham

Jefferson County Multi-Cultural-2nd Tuesday
6:30-8pm @ Bluff Park United Methodist Church, Birmingham

Jefferson County West-4th Thursday
6:30-8pm @ First United Methodist, Hueytown

Lauderdale County-1st Tuesday
6-7:30pm @ Cross Pointe COC (ED Bldg), Florence

Lee County-1st Thursday
6-7:30pm @ Parkway Baptist Church (Adult group & childcare only)

Madison County-2nd Monday
6-7:30pm @First United Methodist, Huntsville

Marion County-2nd Monday
6-7:30pm @ First United Methodist, Winfield

Mobile County-4th Friday
6-7:30pm @ Regency Church of Christ, Mobile

Montgomery County-3rd Thursday
6-7:30pm @ Frazer United Methodist Church, Montgomery

Morgan County-2nd Tuesday
6-7:30pm @ Calvary Assembly Church, Decatur

Shelby County-1st Tuesday
6:30-8pm @First United Methodist, Alabaster

If you have any questions about our adoptive family groups, please call 866-803-2722 or email

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Keep Up With Children's Aid

We know you may not remember to come back to the CAS News & Notes blog every time something great is posted. So to make sure you don't miss a thing, consider connecting with us in some of these other ways!


Subscribe to the CAS News & Notes Blog By Email  (we promise - no spam!)


Monday, August 6, 2012

Camp Life 2012: Now Accepting Applications

September 22-24 and October 13-15
We will be hosting two weekend camps for up to 120 IL youth each. The camp in September will be for youth aged 14-15 years old. The camp in October will be for youth aged 16-21 years old.
Activities of the camp build self-confidence and independent living skills among youth. Campers will participate in closely supervised activities within their small group such as a ropes course, team building activities, talent show, boating, mini golf, field games, and others as a group. All camp activities will provide opportunities for campers to develop relationships with their group leaders and other group members in order to trust and understand each other.


Camp Life will be held at Camp ASCCA in Jackson's Gap (near Alexander City). The amenities at Camp ASCAA are outstanding and sure to enhance the fun and safe environment provided for each camper! You can learn more about Camp ASCCA by visiting

Our camp wouldn't be possible without our amazing staff! The qualities we look for include, boundless enthusiasm, putting others before self, sensitivity to camper needs, willingness to work, dedication and loyalty. Prior experience in a camp setting is not a requirement for working as part of our team, however it is a bonus! Working with children in professional settings, teaching skills, and certifications are also assets to your application.

Click Here To Learn More About Staffing Camp Life

If you have any questions about Camp Life, please contact Nikki Freeman, IL Coordinator, at or 205-943-5356.