Taste of Henry

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Taste of Henry

Taste of Henry

After a quarter-century, A Friend’s House remains a mainstay on the front lines in the battle to protect children at risk in Henry County and throughout Georgia.

“A Friend’s House is here to provide a home or an emergency shelter placement for kids that have been neglected, abused, or who are homeless,” said development director Brandie Craig. “We try to handle everything with the youth — physical, emotional, educational — we have it all in-house.”

Since opening its doors in 1998, the facility has welcomed more than 3,000 children for short-term or long-term care. Now, it houses 24 young people, with equal-sized wings for boys and girls, 11 years of age and up.

None of those beds remain empty for long. According to Craig, when someone transitions out, it is usually just a couple of days before someone else transitions in.

In addition to expanding in recent years to have room for more children, A Friend’s House has improved its services year after year. Craig said it is one of the few foster homes in the state with a full-time nurse and a full-time educator on staff.

While it is often a temporary destination for children in emergency situations, some young people with no family stay there for a few years. The facility becomes their home, and they attend local schools and try to acclimate themselves to everyday life as much as possible.

A Friend’s House was initially built to serve Henry County and the immediate area. Now, it serves children from all over Georgia. “If you think about it, especially with kids coming out of domestic violence situations and wanting to get away from that, you don’t always want to house them in the same county they are from,” said Craig.

Residents typically age out of the program at 18, although some going to college or seeking a full-time job can stay longer until they are successfully transitioned. Officials would like to add services to help those who age out.

About 60 percent of the facility’s $2.6 million budget comes from the Henry County government, with grants and fundraising providing the rest. The largest annual fundraiser for A Friend’s House is still the very popular Taste of Henry, which is now hosted at Southern Belle Farm after outgrowing previous sites. This year, it is scheduled for Friday, September 13.

Dozens of local restaurants bring samples of their best offerings to Taste of Henry for would-be diners, usually a few thousand, to have a bite. “We’ve been very blessed with the amount of people who support our mission by signing up for that,” said Craig. “We know we are asking a lot when we ask a restaurant to come and give out free food.”

In May, A Friend’s House was the subject of the monthly “Toasting for Charity” at Georgian Gallery, with some young people providing their own artwork for sale at the event.

For more information on what A Friend’s House does or how you can help, phone 678-432-1630 or visit afriendshouse.org.

By Monroe Roark