About Treutlen House
Treutlen House is a locally owned facility, managed by a board of directors: Chairman, Mose Mock; Treasuer, Marshall Reiser; Secretary, Connie Bazemore; other members include: Rebecca Boston, Richard Kessler, Martha Zeigler, Beth Helmly, Karen Marx, Joyce Ann Tuten and Ray Zittrouer.
The vision: Through Christian nurture, education, love, counsel, and prayer, the Treutlen House will lead young people to wholeness in spirit, mind and body so that they may be productive to themselves, their community and this world.
Address: 131 Old Augusta Rd. Central, Rincon, GA 31326
Treutlen House is an incorporated non-profit, contributions are tax deductible.
Treutlen House priority: “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove … but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”
I believe that was a line from the show “The Music Man,” and it is apropos for our present situation with Effingham’s Treutlen House that sits close to the banks of the Savannah River.
The trouble in short is: the funding for the marvelous home for boys built in 1999. The home was built somewhat at the behest of the state, as there was a need for homes for young boys, who had behavior difficulties that could not be well managed in the usual foster home. There was state funding for such facilities and a need for such placements locally and across the state.
So what has happened? It sounds familiar to those who have been involved with government agencies, they changed their mind. And, unfortunately, we would not agree that their present judgment is sound, financially or more than that in the best interest of the boys that can benefit greatly from a placement in Treutlen House.
I spent 25 years in the business, Department of Family and Children Services, of trying to find the best available care for children coming from troubled families. It is was privilege to work on the initial Treutlen House board and worked to see that this home was built, because we thought, and the state powers that be thought, that this was the best way to provide not only a good and proper placement but also a place to start these young boys on the right path to becoming young men who would take their place in our society and be productive citizens.
What’s happened? First, the state is cutting the funding (20 percent), adding more regulations and requirements, and have let it be known that they do not intend to utilize group home placements, but rather the plan is to place the boys that would be candidates for these homes, in family foster care. From my experience in the foster care business, I question that proposal.
What about Treutlen House? As you may know, it is at Ebenezer and was built on the history that the first orphanage in the U.S. was at Ebenezer and the first elected governor of Georgia, John Adam Treutlen, was reared and educated in that orphanage. The home is a non-profit corporation and is under the direction of board of directors of local citizens. Mose Mock is the current chairman of the Treutlen House Board.
Treutlen House was built with funds contributed by Effingham citizens, primarily. The home has no indebtedness from the building. But it takes a lot of funding to manage and meet the state guidelines, even at the reduction, and there in is the problem.
Has this home met the criteria set out — helping boys become better citizens and with a hope for being good adult citizens. The record indicates it has. Why are children selected for this type of placement? Behavior difficulties that need professional help and a strong management in the home circumstances to help them achieve.
Examples for such placements: 1) an autistic child, who now speaks and does well in the home and in school, 2) boys who were failing and are now honor roll students, 3) a place where siblings do not have to be separated because there is room for all. Then there is the aspect of emergency placement when other options are not available.
So, what is the plan? According to Mose Mock, the board chair, their first goal is to meet the financial crisis. They are raising money. There is an anonymous donor who has pledged to match dollar for dollar $50,000, if it can be raised by the end of December. The work has been under way for a week or so and they are seeking contributions for citizens, organizations, churches, fundraisers. It is daunting task to raise $50,000 in contributions in this short period. They believe that they can do it, so do I.
Then there is the work to get on with, the work of assuring the use of this facility for the young boys in our society who need what Treutlen House has to offer.
The board does not have any plans for addressing this with state government right now, they are too busy trying to raise $50,000. They haven’t asked me to do this but I’m going to make a suggestion. Call your legislators about this and more than that let’s write letters to Gov. Sonny Perdue and tell him that he is wrong, if this is the way he wants to save money in tight budget times. Meeting the budget should not be done on the backs of, and the deletion of services to, these young boys (and girls in other homes across the state that are being affected). There must be other things that can be cut that do not have such an impact on our children. They are in the circumstances of needing this kind of care through no fault of their own.
Yes, folks there is “trouble in River City,” our own Treutlen House at Ebenezer. We can conquer this trouble if put our minds and hearts to this valuable asset and assure that it continues to be a bright star of hope for young boys who need the help and guidance that can be found at this facility.
Governor, you and other state officials, should probably take a page from John Adam Treutlen’s book. When he was governor, he mortgaged his private lands and paid the state’s debts!