Supporters raise funding for Fayette Youth Protection Homes’ expansion

From left are FYPH Program Director Judy Mathews; State Senator Ronnie Mabra; FYPH Vice-President, Jack Middleton; Mayor Greg Clifton; FYPH Executive Director, Becky Davenport; Matt Brass from Rep. Lynn Westmoreland’s office and FYPH Board President, Rev. Tim Symonds. Photo/Michael Boylan.

Since 1989, Fayette Youth Protection Homes (FYPH) has been a beacon of hope for children and youth who have been the victims of abuse, neglect or other tragic circumstances. Now the organization is appealing to the community for support of their efforts to expand their location so they can meet the needs of the ever-increasing numbers of children seeking their help.

The organization’s longest standing program, the Friday-Johnson Home, is located in Brooks, Ga. and provides shelter and healing for up to 10 school-age children. This program began 23 years ago in a grass-roots effort led by Fayette County citizens to provide a safe home- away- from- home for child abuse victims. The children who attend the Friday-Johnson Home attend Fayette County schools and receive comprehensive services in a loving, homelike environment.

In recent years, the organization has branched out with other programs to benefit children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. FYPH started up a foster parenting program called “Grace for Children” and recruits, supports and trains a network of foster families who take in children of all ages. In 2008, the organization founded a clothing resource center for foster children called “Gracie’s Closet” in their office basement. Since its opening, Gracie’s Closet has grown over 120% in numbers of clients served. Gracie’s Closet provides free clothing, books, baby gear, school supplies and toiletries to children in foster care on the south side of metro Atlanta.
In 2012 at Gracie’s Closet, 340 foster children from 24 counties visited the closet over 1,000 times to obtain clothing and other necessities. This activity took place within the confines of a 1,200 square foot facility. In response to this desperate need for more space and staffing in Gracie’s Closet, Fayette Youth Protection Homes is raising funds to expand it physical location and programs.

“Gracie’s Closet has experienced phenomenal growth in the past few years mainly because there is no program like it in our area,” says FYPH Board President Tim Symonds. “Fayette County citizens have always responded to our call for help, and we hope that this time will be no different.”

The organization recently hosted a capital campaign kick-off luncheon at Frank’s at the Old Mill to unveil Phase Two of their capital fundraising campaign. Phase One began last summer when SMC3, a logistics company with corporate headquarters in Peachtree City, stepped up to the plate with the donation and partial renovation of an 8,000 square foot building. Their generosity provided the foundation for an overall 1.7 million capital campaign to cover the cost of the full renovation of the building, the expansion of Gracie’s Closet and additional staffing.

To date, the organization has raised $898,750 towards their goal which represents the half-way point in their effort to fund the move into a new facility. The Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation, an Atlanta based philanthropic organization, recently stepped forward with a donation of a $150,000, and other donors such as Chick-fil-A, The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, and Piedmont Fayette Hospital have also supported the cause.

The new building, located at 150 Marquis Dr. in Fayetteville will be the home of Gracie’s Closet and the organization’s administrative offices. The newly renovated 8,000 sq. ft. facility has a conference room for foster parent training classes, a “General Store” where foster children can pick out a favorite toy or book, a visitation area for birth parents, 4,000 square feet of retail space, five dressing rooms, a clothes sorting area as well as storage space for off-season clothing.

Administrative staff moved into the new building on Jan. 15. Gracie’s Closet will close during the month of February as the program transitions into the new building. Donations of gently used children’s clothing, books, and toys can now be dropped off at the new location at 150 Marquis Dr. from 9-4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

In the midst of the move into the new building, the organization is also hosting one of its largest fundraising events, the 2013 “Angels Among Us” Dinner-Dance on February 9 at 6 p.m. at Dolce in Peachtree City.

If you are interested in supporting the organization’s capital campaign or would like more information about the Dinner-Dance, contact Becky Davenport at 770-461-7020 or visit the organization’s website at www fyph.org.