When Stan Reeves talks about the Georgia Sheriff's Youth Homes, he's quick to emphasize the reason for their existence: "They (children) come to us broken. We try to put the broken pieces of them back together with God's help."
Mr. Reeves, who serves as director of development for the Georgia Sheriff's Youth Homes, recently served as guest speaker at a weekly luncheon meeting of the Thomson Kiwanis Club. He was introduced by longtime McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall, who serves as first vice president of the Georgia Sheriff's Association.
"God has allowed me to work with children most of my life," Mr. Reeves said. "That's my life mission."
He provided a brief history on the beginning of the Georgia Sheriff's Youth Ranch, noting that six sheriffs helped get the ranch in Hahira established in the late 1950s. They first became interested in such a project in 1956. Their idea later blossomed into a reality and today has expanded to include four other locations. Those homes are known as Cherokee Estate in Dalton, Pineland in LaGrange, Herrington Homestead in Nunez and Murray County near Chatsworth.
"Those six sheriffs cared enough about helping children that they organized the sheriff's youth ranch," Mr. Reeves said.
He added that of all the things he talked to local Kiwanians about, he wanted them most to remember "these homes serve a lot of good children from bad environments. We take these children and try to make them productive."
Two key ingredients are given to each child - love and security, Mr. Reeves said. "We also help educate them," he continued.
Additionally, Mr. Reeves said, "We try to make God the center of their lives and to let them know that God loves them. We share Jesus with our children all the time."
He also told of a great success story involving one of the children who grew up in one of the youth homes. The young man, now 26, first came to the youth home when he was 14. Mr. Reeves said he has overcome a number of obstacles in his life, including bouts of cancer and that he later graduated with honors from Valdosta State University. Today, he is preparing to graduate from the Medical College of Georgia.
"He's been a wonderful inspiration to so many people," Mr. Reeves said.
He also praised the work of Sheriff Marshall through the years with his involvement in the Georgia Sheriff's Youth Homes.
"Sheriff Marshall has been so good to us for so many years," Mr. Reeves said. "This county also has been very, very good to our children."
For more information about the Georgia Sheriff's Youth Homes, call 770-914-1076.