Heart Gallery comes to hospital

Published 8:33 pm Monday, October 1, 2012

Michelle Bearman-Wolnek hangs photos of foster children in Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital as part of the "Heart Gallery."

Photos of 25 foster children from across Alabama will dress the walls of The Exhibit at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital the next few weeks as part of the “Heart Gallery.”

Michelle Bearman-Wolnek serves as executive director and co-founder of Heart Gallery Alabama.

Since the organization started in 2005, it has helped place about 400 children into homes.

Email newsletter signup

Foster children are near to Wolnek’s heart, as her own children are adopted.

“I have two children,” she said. “Even as a social worker, I thought the process was scary. We want to make the process less scary for people and get these children into homes.”

According to the Heart Gallery’s website, there are more than 6,000 children in foster care in Alabama. Of these, more than 600 are available for adoption.

Some of these children will be adopted by their foster parents. Many are still waiting for a permanent home.

The organization takes portraits of foster children awaiting adoption in galleries statewide. They also put video interviews with the children online.

A quote that drives the organizations efforts is, “There are no unwanted children. Only unfound families.”

Wolnek said she feels she has the best job because she gets a chance to keep up with the children who are placed in families.

As Wolnek hangs photos of the foster children in the hospital hallway, she was aided by her son, who often helps her with the organization.

“We only work with Alabama’s children, but we will place children out of the state with a family,” she said.

The Exhibit will run from October to December.