TYLER, TX (KLTV) - There are hundreds of kids here in East Texas who have been removed from their homes. Where do they go? We take you inside one facility that's caring for these children through the Power of Prayer.
Azleway Boys Ranch and Children's Services in Tyler was founded in 1979 by Bill Partridge.
"He literally wanted to start a little small foster home, him and his wife, have six or eight kids and raise those kids until they retired and live happily ever after. Well, God had a much larger vision than Bill did," said Gary Duke, CEO of Azleway. "He has no qualms, and neither do I, about this being a faith-based organization. We are. We live on prayer. I mean we do."
Since then, thousands of kids have come through their doors. Many of them, battling the worst in life.
"They've been exposed to severe violence. Some of them have been extremely abused physically and sexually, and that creates some issues with being able to trust other human beings," Duke said. "But we have a lot of kids that really do heal and are able to overcome."
Joseph was a resident at Azleway. He says his mother was a prostitute, and when he was removed from her care, this became his home. One that he credits for helping so many kids today.
"Without those programs, without their support, then a lot of the opportunities and a lot of the training that is given to the children there, we wouldn't have those," said Joseph.
"Over the years, churches all across this community have really been important supporters of this organization," Duke said.
State funding only covers 80 percent of what it costs to care for these children. Azleway not only has children's services, but group homes, substance abuse treatment and a transitional living program.
"You know, you see steeples all over this city. There aren't any steeples out here, but those steeples have a presence in this program and what they do to support these kids who are less fortunate." said Duke.
Not just through their donations, but by providing mentors as well. All with the end goal of finding the kids a forever home.
"We provide a tremendous amount of love, a tremendous amount of support and a lot of care for these kids and it certainly makes a huge difference in their lives," said Duke. "But I really want to see them out of substitute care and into a family."
One filled with love and the Power of Prayer.
Azleway has about 500 kids in foster care every day. There were 40 adoptions last year alone. Azleway is hosting its "Big Ranch Roundup" on Friday, March 27. It is the only special event held at the boys ranch. There will be dinner, live and silent auctions and a chance to meet some of the kids who call Azleway home.