Press Release: UMCH Signs Leases for New Residences and Offices

CONTACT: Lisa Simon, Director of Marketing and Communications lsimon@umchildrenshome.org (404) 974-9084 office; (404) 734-5533 mobile    

The United Methodist Children’s Home Signs Leases for New Residences, Offices and Flea Market, Opening New Era for More Children to be Raised in a Loving Home

  Decatur, Ga. – (August 2, 2017) – Responding to the growing needs of the children and families it serves, leaders of The United Methodist Children’s Home (UMCH) recently signed a lease to secure new housing for program residents in Tucker, Ga., and Clarkston, Ga.   The new program residences – for which occupancy is slated as early as mid August – will provide future housing for clients currently under UMCH’s care at the ministry’s Decatur campus, including those we serve in Independent Living and Family Housing ministries.   UMCH also signed a lease for new administrative and volunteer office space and UMCH Flea Market at 1967 Lakeside Parkway, Building 400 in Tucker. This progress is in step with the ministry’s plan to relocate from its 77 acre campus at 500 Columbia Drive in DeKalb Co. during late summer 2017.   Peyton Wimberly of Cushman & Wakefield managed the research and lease negotiations and will oversee management of space improvements. Rev. Hal Jones, The Children’s Home President and CEO, said signing the leases is another critical step in a new chapter for The Children’s Home.   “We now have a new residential base from which to expand our ministry,” said Jones. “This milestone opens a much wider path to continue providing services to people in DeKalb County, and to serve many more people in new communities across North Georgia.”   “The new space is perfectly suited for UMCH staff to provide services to clients in Foster Care, Family Housing, Independent Living and Transitional Living,” said Jones. “The site also provides a new location for the UMCH Flea Market, a decades-long tradition that will continue.”   UMCH currently employs about 75 staff, with essential support from thousands of volunteers. Its new space will be used for services and events including Foster Care IMPACT trainings, foster family visitations, Care Connection volunteer training, ILP/TLP mentorship, career coaching, music therapy, GED completion and scholarship applications, its regular flea market sales, the annual Children’s Christmas Celebration with Santa, and many other initiatives – all in furtherance of the ministry’s mission.   The Children’s Home Board of Trustees agreed to sell the ministry’s 77 acre campus to the City of Decatur during early 2017. The Decatur City Commission approved and announced the purchase at their meeting held  April 17, 2017. The $40 million proceeds are helping UMCH reach more children and families in crisis in new communities across North Georgia. Terms of the sale included retained ownership and preservation of the UMCH’s historic Moore Chapel and the City of Decatur’s agreement to preserve the gravesite of UMCH’s founder Rev. Dr. Jesse Boring.   The sale also created a preservation covenant honoring the unparalleled tenure of Bev Cochran, former CEO of The Children’s Home, who led the ministry for 43 years, from 1968 to 2012. The City of Decatur and The Children’s Home agreed to name the existing administration building at 500 South Columbia Drive – which will remain in use by the City – in memory of Cochran, touching the lives of thousands of UMCH alumni, their children and grandchildren.   The City of Decatur will determine and announce its plans for the remainder of the property and its existing buildings and resources. Additional details will be available via www.decaturga.com.   It is anticipated that UMCH will occupy its new locations by early fall 2017. UMCH currently houses approximately 80 individuals on campus who are served by the Family Housing and Independent Living programs. UMCH is committed to providing uninterrupted services and continued support to its residents, and will work with them on relocations based on individual needs. Current and future residents will move from group home cottages on the campus to more modern, safe and appropriate housing.   “In fact, the sale of our Decatur campus enables us to grow the number of children and families we serve daily by 25 percent, from serving 240 people a day, to over 300 a day,” added Jones. “Serving more children in more places is consistent with our vision and mission and is the reason our Board made this courageous, faithful and deliberate decision.”   The new residential lease location, which will provide uninterrupted services to current UMCH residents who are in the Family Housing, Transitional Living & Independent Living programs, is in Tucker and within a few miles of the new office. The other new residential location is in Clarkson. The office space includes approximately 50,000 square feet of flea market, meeting, training and office space.   Jones put the move to the new residences and offices into perspective.   “Funds from the sale will help The United Methodist Children’s Home to greatly expand local, community-based ministries in towns and cities across North Georgia, in partnership with many more churches,” said Jones. “Since January, when the Board voted for approval of a sale, I’ve continued to be energized by this decision, which recognizes and embraces the changing landscape in providing services to children and families while empowering UMCH to deliver on, and continuously improve, its important mission.   “As recently as this summer, UMCH began to launch a new Foster Care ministry in Augusta, Ga., and is calling on Methodist Churches in that area to join in this ministry of caring for child in need,” added Jones.   Donations and volunteers still needed Jones added that financial donations are needed now more than ever as there is a continuous need to serve thousands of children and families. Those interested should please donate online at www.umchildrenshome.org or continue to mail donations to 500 S. Columbia Drive, Decatur, Ga., 30030.   “The sale of our land and signing the leases for our new locations does not reduce the urgency of assisting people in need,” said Jones. “Indeed, UMCH needs financial gifts and grants now more than ever before, if it is to keep pace with the growing child welfare crisis in our state.   Currently, there are over 13,000 Georgia children who have been separated from their families, and who are in state custody due to neglect, abuse or abandonment; this is a number that has doubled over the last five years. Every week, when called on by the state, UMCH must currently turn away 30 children who need a loving foster home, because of limited resources. And each week families at risk of homelessness are turned away for the same reason.   Donations and the flea market sales are used to serve more children and families who face trauma and seek restoration. These funds directly lead to the expansion of UMCH ministries into communities not currently served, such as Augusta, Rome, Dalton, LaGrange, Griffin, and other areas. Donations also help expand all existing ministries including Foster Care, Family Housing, Independent Living and Transitional Living, in metro Atlanta, and in new communities.   UMCH continues to need volunteers, especially for its growing Foster Care ministry. For volunteer opportunities and details, anyone interested should please email volunteer@umchildrenshome.org. UMCH staff, leadership and current program participants encourage anyone interested to share ideas or questions by calling 404-327-5867. Additional information is available at www.umchildrenshome.org or www.decaturga.com.   About The United Methodist Children’s Home The United Methodist Children’s Home was established in 1871 in Norcross, Ga., to care for children orphaned during the Civil War, and has evolved to serve children and families in a ‘continuum of care’ model. It envisions a world where ‘all children are raised in a loving, compassionate and nurturing home.’ And it works every day toward its mission ‘to restore children and families from trauma through Jesus Christ.’ Since 1973, UMCH has cared for over 6,000 children in safe and loving foster-care homes; it provides safe housing for at-risk young adults and prepares them to make positive life decisions and become productive, independent, citizens; and it strengthens and preserves at-risk families through safe housing and support services. Today, UMCH serves over 240 children and adults a day in 40 counties across North Georgia, and it delivered over 56,000 days of care in 2016.  For more information visit www.umchildrenshome.org.   # # #