Kindred Place: New name, renewed mission to reduce violence

When building a brand, choosing a name that avoids confusion likely ranks at the top. That’s exactly what Kindred Place - formerly known as the Exchange Club Family Center - hopes to do with its rebranding effort.

For over 30 years, the nonprofit family services organization at 2180 Union Avenue has operated as the Exchange Club Family Center.

Yet, many Memphians are unaware of what the organization actually does, in part due to the old label. The rebranding has been a year-and-a-half-long process to better reflect the 35-year-old organization’s evolving focus on family support.

“We are live now. We rolled out the new mark and identity at the ‘Over the Edge’ event and the revised website is up,” said Kindred Place executive director Jennifer Balink.

The fundraiser was held on Oct. 14 at the AutoZone Store Support Center at 123 S. Front St. Participants who raised $1,000 had an opportunity to rappel down the building. The City of Memphis also proclaimed it “Kindred Community Day.” In all, 80 people went over the edge and down the building.

Participants who raised $1,000 had an opportunity to rappel down AutoZone's six-story building to support the newly-named Kindred Place. (Kindred Place)

“We had people dressed up in costume. We had Superman and Wonder Woman - a husband and wife team - and Batman and Robin. Rockey the Redbird went over the edge. We had parents go with their kids. It was just fun,” added Balink.

Kindred Place so far has collected $65,000 from the Over the Edge event - about $5,000 short of its fundraising goal of $70,000.

Sullivan Branding came up with the new name, while Inferno developed the mark. The website was a collaboration with Firespring, an Nebraska-based company specializing in affordable website templates for nonprofits.

The family crisis center’s next steps involve plans for new signage for their building and getting the word out.

“In the coming months, our building will look different - putting new signage up - to do something on our building that we hope will connect and resonate with the idea of peace in every home and every neighborhood all across our community,” said Balink. “We are doing something really big without the budget resources that most places have to do things like this. So, we’ve been rolling it out in a way that looks slow and grassrootsy, and that’s not unintentional.”

This has been done through dialogue with other like-minded nonprofits, working with United Way - which they are a part of - and through their referral service. Board members are also spreading the word through their own company’s communication channels.

“That is really talking one at a time with enough time to really understand who we help, how we do it and how we connect folks. All of that grassroots work getting the message out wherever there’s a door open to talk about our work. It’s labor intensive but really matters. We are also working with the folks at Inferno to develop content for our social media - Facebook page, our blog and twitter.”
The Exchange Club Family Center will be rebranded as Kindred Place.

Sullivan’s brand research revealed that many Memphians were aware of the organization through its decades of service, but they just weren’t exactly sure what services were offered.

“We knew we had a confusion issue but had a fair amount of recognition,” said Balink.

Since opening its doors in Memphis in 1984, The Exchange Club Family Center evolved to stay current and meet area needs. Many programs have been added beyond the scope of its original mission of child abuse prevention. It long ago outpaced the bare-bones exchange club model of yore.

They have evolved and added other programs related to domestic violence and other kinds of family violence. The way they talk about it now is that Kindred Place is a family violence resource for the community.

Like the other 80 exchange club-sponsored centers across the U.S., the Exchange Club Family Center in Memphis only followed the Parent Aide model when it was founded. It requires parent aids to work in-home with parents for two hours a week. The curriculum runs the course of a year.

“We grew beyond that initial model and mission by adding programs. Even though when they first started there were 80 exchange club sponsored programs, and now there are 40 left, all were independent organizations only connected by this Parent Aide program,” said Balink.

This growth includes the Midtown location acting as a visitation center for non-custodial parents. Generally, court-appointed, the supervised visits allow parents to continue to have a relationship with their children. The center also offers a Safe Exchange program. Parents who cannot get along with one another can drop off their children and a staff member can shepherd them to each other to avoid confrontations. The center also hosts state required seminars for divorcing parents as well as programs that serve victims of domestic and family violence.

A review of programming has also been completed. During research, Kindred Place came across a study conducted by Amie Zarling, a clinical psychologist at Iowa State. The academic had partnered with the state’s department of corrections to pilot her Achieve Change Through Values-Based Behavior Program.

“Rather than try to encourage people to change their way of thinking, this treatment model looks more at what is it that you as a human being value. What matters to you. What is it that gives you any kind of spark or meaning to your life and is what you’re doing now getting you there. It’s a model that’s less punitive,” said Catherine Collins, clinical director for Kindred Place.

Traditional models focused on changing the thought process of those working through the programs — often with scant success.

Early numbers show a different story with Zarling’s approach. The recidivism rate is 50 percent lower than the traditional route.

The nonprofit is partnering with the University of Memphis to pilot Zarling’s program with Kindred Place supplying resources for data collection and analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of the program in Memphis.

The evolution of responsibilities was the reason the board opted for a rebrand. Collins found the word ‘kindred’ closer to the drift of the organization’s mission, not to mention more inviting.

“Kindred Place doesn’t immediately explain all that we do either, but the explanation seems so much more organic and positive to say, ‘here is what we do at this Kindred Place.’ And I think it does symbolically describe the spirit of our agency in a way that our previous name — not in a million years — was able to do,” Collins added.

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Kim and Jim Coleman.

Kim Coleman is a journalist with over 20 years of experience in newsrooms as a reporter, editor and graphic designer, including ten years with The Commercial Appeal as Design Director/Senior Editor and Print Planning Editor. 


Jim Coleman is a freelance writer, covering a variety of topics from high school sports, community news and small business. He has written for different news organizations over the past 20 years, including The Commercial Appeal, Community Weeklies, Lexington Herald-Leader and The Albuquerque Journal.