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Treutlen House seeks to keep doors open
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Ways to help Treutlen House

Donations can also be sent to Treutlen House at 131 Old Augusta Rd. Central, Rincon GA 31326. For more information call 754-9797.

Treutlen House is in need of monetary donations. The home also can use donations of non-perishable food, office and household items.

The board is currently selling Christmas ornaments for $7. This year’s ornament features New Hope AME Church.

Glenda and Wayne Whitley of WECO Lighting are donating 10 percent of sales to the Treutlen House while they are open. (The showroom will close Dec. 13). They are challenging other businesses to also donate a portion of sales to help the Treutlen House.

Treutlen House is looking for the help of the community to remain open in the coming month.

An organization that helped provide funding for Treutlen House, Morning Star, is going through some tough financial times, said Treutlen House board member Beth Helmly.

“I guess it’s just a reflection of the economy,” she said. “What they’re having to do is cut back.”

Susan Gattman, director for Treutlen House, said Morning Star will no longer be managing Treutlen House.

“In order for us to keep the Treutlen House doors open, we’ve got to get enough money coming in so that we can do that,” Gattman said. “We’ve got staff to pay and groceries to buy, all of those things.”

Treutlen House is seeking financial contributions and though the home will be receiving the children’s per diem expenses, it won’t be enough to pay for the entire operation.

“It may pay part of the staff’s paychecks, but it’s not going to pay for everything,” Gattman said.

Helmly said adding to the financial impact is the home can hold 12 boys, but has only been housing around half of that.

“We’re losing $15,000 to $18,000, and in the past, Morning Star has been willing to carry us through the lean times,” she said. “We found ourselves in the position that (the board has) to take over and do everything. That means salaries that means benefits that means everything that’s involved with running the house.

“We’ve got to do it very quickly, which is why we are appealing to the community for some help because we pretty much need $45,000 to $50,000 for just the first month or so.”

She said there is a person who has agreed to match the donations Treutlen House receives.

“If we can get 12 kids at the house we can pretty much break even with a little bit of support elsewhere,” Helmly said Board chairman Mose Mock said up until this point the board has maintained the house and vehicles while the management company has used the state per diem to take care of labor.

“There has been a push in the state to go more toward foster care,” Mock said. “Foster care is a wonderful thing. It just doesn’t fit every child, especially if you have siblings.”

Gattman said the children at Treutlen House are not “typical foster children.”

“They are often very hard to place children because of either behavioral or psychiatric issues,” she said. “We also take sibling groups that are sometimes hard to place. One of the reasons why Treutlen House is so important because if we can’t keep it running, then these children have nowhere to go.”

Mock said there are many children who were failing before coming to Treutlen House who are now honor roll students. Gattman said all the children are doing well in school.

“Three of the six that we had when report cards came out made the honor roll,” she said.

With the state emphasis on foster care and a push to cut the per diem by 20 percent, Treutlen House needs the community to “step up to the plate,” Mock said.

“So there goes a double whammy,” he said, “and on top of that they want us to add another person that the state is requiring we’ve got to have.

“We’re hearing stories every day of people who are giving $1,000 given the other day by the businesswomen. Churches are stepping up. One church put us on their budget. We’re appealing to other churches to prayerfully consider putting us on their budget.”

The majority of the children at Treutlen House are from Effingham, Mock said.

“It’s a mission in the community. This ain’t somebody else’s problem,” he said. “I know a lot of people look at foreign missions, and that’s great, but charity begins at home.”

Four of the seven children currently housed at the home are from Effingham and the home also works to find jobs for the teenage boys.

“The retreat center has been really good about giving them jobs, and we would get them jobs in other areas of the community if we needed to,” Gattman said.

Another of the home residents is in a high school work study program, going to school for half a day and working for half a day. Treutlen House provides his transportation.

The Treutlen House currently has about 10 people on staff. Mock said a lot of people may comment that there are 10 employees and fewer than 10 children, but the state regulations require it.

“You have to have three shifts of parents, plus for watchful care, you have to have one person who’s up all night,” he said.

Helmly said the goal is for the children to never know anything is changing.

“Basically everything to them is the same as it always has been,” she said. “The adults will have to know. For these kinds of kids, continuity is something they don’t have, and that’s what I think an advantage of Treutlen House is because a lot of times we keep the kids longer than a foster parent could.

“We’ve got kids there who didn’t succeed in foster care, but they are succeeding in this type of environment. Our main focus is to try to keep that continuity there for them.”

She said the children have sponsors in the community who spend time with them.

“In fact one young lady was there, and she had to leave (an emergency meeting) early because they were having a birthday party for the kid who they were sponsoring,” she said. “No, it’s not as good as if you were with your own family, obviously, if your family was a normal functioning family, but we try to make it the best we possibly can.”

Mock said there are people who ask if the children are orphans.

“For whatever reason, they cannot be in their family right now. If you lose this home, Effingham County won’t have a place for children to go in an emergency,” he said. “It takes time to get foster care.

“Right now for boys, it’s a rescue place for them. The main thing we need right now, especially with Christmas approaching, if they were looking for a cause to do something benevolent it’s a great opportunity. I wish we had a little more preparedness because we’re hearing that a lot of churches already had something planned.”

Mock said the board is looking into a number of fundraisers, from poker runs to bake sales, to help Treutlen House.
“I know there’s so many other needs in the community, and we don’t want to distract from that, but bottom line — this is an emergency,” Mock said. “Good people come together in a community in an emergency. It’s going to be for the better. It’s time as a board. We’ve done a lot of soul searching.”

Helmly said each board member has pledged a donation of $1,000.

“To show that we’re not only asking the community to help do their part, but we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is,” she said.

Mock said it is also important for community members to know the board is not frivolous.

“We’re not in debt,” Helmly said. “It wasn’t mismanaged, we’re just having to take it over.”

Mock said two thirds of the cost to run the home is labor, which is regulated by the state.

“Sen. Jack Hill and Rep. Jon Burns have been very helpful,” Mock said. “The community organizations have been so open hearted.”