John Cleary has been coming to the panhandle during snowbird season for years.

About seven years ago, he learned about Children in Crisis and visited the CIC Children’s Neighborhood for abused, neglected and abandoned children. Immediately his heart was changed forever.

Cleary is a retired hospital director from the St. Louis area, and found fulfillment in a different area by working with his hands. For seven years he has spent three months of the year working on the long list of maintenance and repair needs at the CIC Neighborhood foster homes. As the CIC Neighborhood has grown, so have the repair needs. This year Cleary recruited four of his fellow snowbirds and spouses to help out.

Cleary and his friends have been a godsend to Children in Crisis and have saved thousands of dollars which can be used to help feed and clothe the children. On any given day there are about 50 children living at the CIC Neighborhood and since opening the neighborhood of foster homes in 2008, more than 800 children have had a home with CIC.

“The donation of hard work has helped provide our children in need with a loving home, food, clothing and a big smile,” said Ken Hair, CIC president/CEO. “John and friends truly make a difference and we are very thankful.”

Children in Crisis Inc. is a 501(c)(3), non-profit charity of caring people working together to provide homes and establish hope to the abused, neglected, and abandoned children of our community. To learn more about Children in Crisis, call 850-864-4242 or visit