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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, March 24, 2017

Once around the dance floor to aid a worthy cause


Holland takes on Dancing with the Chattanooga Stars to help Family Connections



Adam Holland, a domestic relations attorney in Chattanooga, and professional dance instructor Cari Brown have teamed up to raise money for Partnership for Families, Children and Adults through the annual Dancing with the Chattanooga Stars event. - Photograph by David Laprad

This June, Adam Holland will do what few Chattanooga attorneys have done in their pursuit of justice: put on his dancing shoes.

Holland is one of eight local celebrities competing in the 2017 edition of Dancing with the Chattanooga Stars, the annual fundraiser that benefits Partnership for Families, Children and Adults. On the evening of Saturday, June 3, Holland will take to the stage of the Tivoli Theatre and get his samba on to raise money for Partnership’s Family Connections program.

The program provides supervised visitations for parents. “When there are allegations that a parent has abused a child or a spouse has neglected a child, and the court decides that the parent needs to have supervised visits, Family Connections provides that service,” Holland, a domestic relations attorney, says.

Family Connections also provides supervised child exchanges. This avoids a potentially explosive encounter when parents who are not living together swap a child.

“There are cases in which the parents don’t get along and don’t need to be together; they’re good moms and dads, independently, but when they’re together, bad things can happen,” Holland points out.  “So, they go to Family Connections, where a trained professional supervises them as they exchange the child.”

Holland, who is a partner at Duncan, Hatcher, Holland & Fleenor, says he chose to raise money for Family Connections because he has seen it work for the parents who have used it.

“I had a case in which a gentleman was arrested and charged with his second DUI,” Holland says. “His kids were in his car with him.”

The court limited the man to supervised visits because he was undergoing rehabilitation.

“He was able to maintain contact with his children through Family Connections,” Holland explains. “His children needed him. They loved him; he was their dad. So, he worked with the program and did well.”

Holland says Family Connections was designed to protect the parent-child relationship and give a father or mother a safe space in which he or she can maintain contact, and continue to have a relationship, with his or her child.

“The courts are not there to punish the parent by taking away the child; the courts are there to protect the child,” Holland adds. “Parents make mistakes, and sometimes, need help or treatment. Family Connections allows them to maintain contact with their child while they work on what brought them to that place.”

Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw, a supporter of the program, says Family Connections is an important resource for families with pending legal issues that make it necessary for visits between a parent and child to be supervised, or for an exchange between parents to be supervised.

“The children are often the ones who suffer because of problems between the adults in their lives,” Philyaw says. “Family Connections provides a safe, comfortable exchange and an opportunity for the parent and child to spend time together while the adult’s issues are being addressed in the courts.

“As a judge, I have confidence in knowing that the child will be protected in the process.”

Holland, who is a Partnership board member, says there are few alternatives in Hamilton County to Family Connections. Without the program, there would be cases in which a parent would temporarily lose custody of his or her child without the benefit of a trial or court hearing and be unable to see the child for several months.

“I believe in this program. We have to have it here,” he says. “I’m proud to be raising money for it this year.”

Family Connections, which is operated out of a house on Duncan Avenue in the Highland Park neighborhood, is not free, but is made available on a sliding scale. However, the revenues the program generatesdon’t cover the cost of maintaining the facility or the staff. Holland is hoping to raise $25,000.

“It’s a much-needed sum. This is a non-profit service. Their goal is not to make money but to provide a service,” Holland explains.

 Although Holland has taken private dance lessons in the past, he’s remaining humble about his chances for winning either of the big prizes of Dancing with the Chattanooga Stars: Fan Favorite and Dancing Champion.

“I’m very much an amateur dancer,” he adds, laughing. “The fact that I’ve taken private lessons does not give me an edge over any of the other dancers.”

Holland has been paired with Cari Brown, a professional dance instructor with Dance Tonight Chattanooga, a dance studio on East Main Street. Brown has choreographed a lively samba set to Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.” The two will be practicing weekly until the big night.

“We’re still in the early stages,” Brown says. “Our main goals are to have fun and raise money for a good cause.”

Brown is promising a “spicy dance with lots of hop action.” At this point, though, Holland says the most he can do without falling is a couple of steps.

Regardless of how much progress Holland makes between now and June 3, he’s looking forward to performing in front of this wife, Genimar, and their two children: William, 7, and Isabelle, 4.

“My wife is from Venezuela. Dancing is in her blood,” Holland says. “We’ve been married for nearly 12 years, so it was time for me to learn a few moves.”

To reach his donation goal for Family Connections, Holland is seeking corporate sponsorships. He’ll also be accepting donations from individuals.

The upcoming months will also be marked with social and networking events in which Holland will shine a spotlight on Family Connections.

To follow Holland’s journey to Dancing with the Chattanooga Stars, ‘like’ the “Adam Holland - Dancing with the Chattanooga Stars” event page on Facebook. In addition, Holland can be contacted at (423) 266-2207, extension 141, aholland@duncanhatcher.com.

What’s more, individuals who purchase a ticket to Dancing with the Chattanooga Stars can ask that the proceeds support Family Connections.

Holland is hoping his friends and colleagues in the law will take advantage of the opportunity to see him pursue justice in his dance shoes. “If nothing else, you’ll see me stumble around and potentially fall.”