Front: Jewish Family & Children’s Services Chief Operator Officer Rick Aranson, Faith Roman, JF&CS Director Eve Bogan, Camp Twin Lakes Executive Director Eric Robbins, Charles Baldwin, Terry Roman, JF&CS Chief Executive Officer Gary Miller. Back: David Burbach, JF&CS First Vice President John Perlman, Camp Twin Lakes Director of Camp Services Dan Mathews and Paul Roman.
By Tia Lynn Lecorchick staff writer
The Camp Twin Lakes Rutledge site is in the process of planning for the construction of a group home, in which four disabled adults will live with a supervisor and be given the opportunity for employment at the camp.
Camp Twin Lakes is a network of camps in Georgia for children and adults with serious illnesses and disabilities, with a vision for teaching campers to “overcome obstacles and to grow in their confidence and capabilities,” according to the organization’s website.
According to the Camp Twin Lakes’ 2012 Annual Report, the camp served over 9,000 children with just over 3,500 campers through week-long summer camps and 5,500 campers through year-round weekend retreats.” The report also noted that during the 20 years of Camp Twin Lakes’ existence, more than 50,000 campers have attended the camp.
“We opened our doors more than 20 years ago in Rutledge. Over the years, Camp Twin Lakes has provided life-changing camp experiences to thousands of Georgia’s children with serious illnesses, disabilities and other life challenges. Our relationship with Morgan county and surrounding communities is very important to us,” said Meghan Hauser, development manager for Camp Twin Lakes.
Now the camp is setting it sights on constructing a group home to better meet the needs of disabled people in Morgan County. According to the staff report of the Morgan County Planning and Development Commisision, “Camp Twin Lakes, represented by Charles Baldwin, has requested a conditional use permit to allow a Residential Group Facility on the Camp Twin Lakes property.
Camp Twin Lakes approached Planning and Development in 2011 regarding a new master plan for the organization. Among the many improvements and new programs envisioned was the possibility of providing housing for employees.
Other objectives of the master plan have been implemented, and the organization is now ready to proceed with the employee housing. Camp Twin Lakes not only provides activities for those with life challenges, they also provide employment opportunities for them. The proposed Residential Group Facility will contain five bedrooms for up to four adults with developmental disabilities and a house manager.
The home will be around 2500 square feet. No plans have been submitted for the house. This proposal is a collaboration with Jewish Family and Career Services, who will provide staff support for the project.” “There is a great need for an effort like this in Morgan County,” said Charles Baldwin, member of the Camp Twin Lakes board of directors.
Executive Director of Camp Twin Lakes, Eric Robbins, elaborated on the overall vision for the group home project. “It is our desire to provide housing for up to four adults with developmental disabilities plus one house manager and further to offer employment to the residents at Camp Twin Lakes.
The home will contain five bedrooms within approximately 2,5000 square feet. This residence will be subject to all local, state and federal regulations applicable to such group homes,” said Robbins. The group home project will be a collaborative effort between Camp Twin Lakes, Jewish Family and Career Services, Hand in Hand Ministries, and other individuals who volunteer to help construct the group home. Hand in Hand Ministries is a local non-profit organization aiming to help “create a high quality of life in a community of homes for adults who need a hand.”
“They will be a local liason between Jewish Family and Career Services and Camp Twin Lakes,” explained Baldwin.
The project received its first donation from the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Madison, a donation of $1,000, for the construction of this group home. The contribution was made in honor Faith Roman, a college student at Kennesaw State, who grew up in Madison, is a member of the Church of the Advent, and who worked at the farm of Camp Twin Lakes over the summer.
“The Church of the Advent wanted to honor Faith by making this donation toward the group home,” said Baldwin. According to Robbins, Camp Twin Lakes will step up their fundraising efforts in the beginning of 2014 in hopes of completing the group home by the summer of 2014.
Robbins expects the total cost to build the group home will be around $350,000. Robbins believe this is a small price to pay in comparison to the benefits a group home will reap for the disabled of Morgan County.
“We are committed to individuals with special needs through their lifespans, not just childhood. We have a desire to create an option that will benefit the disabled residents of this county. I was inspired by a community I visited called CampHill where the disabled live and work on farms. We have a program-farm for our campers but it is evolving into a production farm. This will help offer more employment opportunities for the disabled,” explained Robbins.