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April 11, 2006   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
April 11, 2006

Alfa-Daniel Hall, top, has 12 bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, laundry and other common areas where students can learn independent living skills. Bottom, HKS Residential Director John Connell, right, shows how an electric lift can carry a student from her bed to the bathroom. From left are, Talladega County Farmers Federation President Claude Friday, Federation Central Vice President Dean Wysner, Federation President Jerry A. Newby and Connell.
TALLADEGA, Ala.-- Sixteen young ladies with multiple disabilities have a new home at Helen Keller School in Talladega thanks, in part, to a monetary gift from Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance.

The new Alfa-Daniel Residence Hall was dedicated April 10 at Helen Keller School, which is part of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB). The 8,657 square-foot facility is the result of a $250,000 donation from Alfa and a matching grant from the Daniel Foundation of Alabama. Other donors included AmSouth Bancorporation Foundation, Brasfield & Gorrie General Contractors, Goodrich Foundation, Jemison Investments, Motion Industries, Protective Life Foundation and Jerome S. Leader, whose granddaughter, Olivia, is a resident at Alfa-Daniel Hall.

"The Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance are proud to support AIDB in its work to help young men and women develop their God-given abilities and reach their full potential," said Alfa President Jerry A. Newby. "Without AIDB, many blind and deaf individuals -- particularly those in rural areas -- would not have access to specialized educational programs, facilities and materials. This fine, new facility greatly enhances AIDB's ability to fulfill its mission."

The new building replaced deteriorating Rogers Hall, a two-story facility, with no elevator, no sprinkler system and an antiquated fire escape. Alfa-Daniel Hall is designed to "feel like home," said AIDB President Terry Graham. It includes a fully equipped kitchen, game room, laundry room and living area where a staff of four to five will work with the girls to teach them independent living skills.

"These girls deserve the very best. As part of our 'Living with Pride' initiative, we wanted to improve facilities where they live, work and learn. Alfa-Daniel Hall not only does these things but is a beautiful, nurturing environment," Graham said.

Bathrooms between each of the building's 12 bedrooms feature automated lifts that lower students into whirlpool tubs, a safer alternative for both student and dorm parent. Showers are wide enough for wheelchairs and feature either regular or hand-held shower heads. All restrooms are equipped with sensor toilets and vanities. Likewise, automatic entrances, wide doorways and large bathrooms enable wheelchair-bound students and those with mobility issues, easy access to all parts of the building. The facility has a state-of-the art emergency and security system. A thermostat in the duct work evenly heats and cools all rooms. Overhead lights have dimmers which can serve as night lights.? Farmers Federation Central Vice President Dean Wysner of Randolph County said the Federation Board of Directors didn't hesitate when asked to support the construction of the new residence hall.

"We looked at this as an opportunity to do something to help a school that has done so much good for Alabama," Wysner said. "Every member of the board knew someone or had a relative who benefited from AIDB. That is a testimonial to the positive impact AIDB has on this state."

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