March 7, 2012 -
Tallahassee - "Here at Kids Incorporated they're more like extended family."
That's what one first-time father had to say about Kids Incorporated of the Big Bend. The organization he calls family was made possible by a woman named Elizabeth "Budd" Bell.
She founded Kids Incorporated of the Big Bend in 1972.
Pam Davis is the Executive Director of Kids Incorporated, she says, "Budd had a vision about 40 years ago, this summer will be our 40th anniversary."
Today, that vision serves more than 4,000 children as a full-service community center.
Davis says, "Her vision was that we needed a program that served the entire family."
Bell passed away in 2009, but her passion for children lives on. To honor her memory and her work, she was just inducted into the Women's Hall of Fame in Florida. One of her claims to fame is her role in coordinating childcare legislation three decades ago in Florida.
And while she was an advocate for children and families, Bell also helped craft legislation here at the Florida Capitol to help the mentally ill, known as the Baker Act.
Her daughter, Bonnie Gold Bell, says, "She was truly formidable, in her commitment to cooperation, yet I believe that the root of her unfailing energy was her powerfully compassionate spirit."
She accepted the award on behalf of her mother, an honor she hopes will inspire everyone to take part and give back to their communities.