Marvin Henderson

You might have thought that with 6 grown children of his own, 9 years with the sheriff’s department, and nearly 20 years working with troubled children on Gateway’s residential treatment campus, Marvin Henderson would want a nice, quiet job, working with well-adjusted adults. But not Marvin. He has taken on the role of mentor to the young men in Gateway’s Therapeutic Foster Care Program. And helping children isn’t just for the work day. He and his wife, Cynthia, have been foster parents in their Pleasant Grove home to ten children over the last seven years.

When asked why he and his wife had chosen to be foster parents, and he replied, “We saw a need to make a difference in the lives of children that were put in situations beyond their control. They have problems with trust, abandonment, low self-esteem, being safe. We wanted to show abandoned, neglected, and abused children a loving and caring home. By providing a loving and safe environment for them, we can build a trusting relationship. We validate their feelings and assure them that they are safe. We speak positive words over them, and sometimes, we just allow them to be a child or teen.

I’ve worked with troubled children for more than 20 years, and they have touched my life. One day, a 14 year old female said to me that she had never been to the Golden Arches (McDonald’s), so I made sure she got there. And when I told a 16 year old male that I was proud of him, he replied “No one ever told me they were proud of me.”

We once fostered a child that they said had severe learning disabilities. We worked with that child and nurtured him; and we were so proud when he overcame the hardship and made the honor role.

We also fostered brothers, and we got their birth mother involved. She came over to our house, and we all worked with the precious babies. They were able to work through their issues and eventually went home. That mom and her children are still a part of our lives.

Our reward is knowing that we have demonstrated to the children that come into our home what a loving and caring family looks like. When we take a child to Disney World and see his face light up with excitement or take him to a ball game or sign him up for karate, and he is so excited…that’s our reward.

We stay in touch with the children we’ve fostered…sometimes we pick them up on the weekend and take them out to dinner and a movie. It’s difficult to say goodbye when they move on because you want to know if they are still growing on their journey, because we know we played a part in that journey.”

1401 20th Street South
Birmingham, AL 35205
Gateway Family Resource Center
Fax: 205-510-2621
Gateway Residential / Day Treatment Center
5201 Messer Airport Highway
Birmingham, AL 35212