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Elks Aidmore Rebuilds Lives One at a Time

By Marina I. Jokic

Elks Aidmore's mission is to provide various residential treatment and support programs for children and their families with a focus on at-risk teenagers and young adults. Based in Conyers, Georgia, Elks Aidmore specializes in offering families educational instruction, affordable housing, GED and vocational training, counseling, health and wellness, and sporting facilities. Helping kids and families rebuild their lives is Elks Aidmore's chief goal.

Over the course of the last five years, Elks Aidmore's CEO Abe Wilkinson has witnessed the foster care population in Georgia double, placing more than thirteen thousand children and young adults in foster care. Current projections for this at-risk population predict the increase to level out at sixteen thousand. As the need for additional resources has grown, so have the programs at Elks Aidmore.

"Over the past five years, we have grown from serving twelve children and youth to over one hundred and thirty children and youth each day," emphasizes Wilkinson. Additionally, the Elks Aidmore staff has grown from twelve to over forty, with approximately ninety family foster homes in various locations. Expectedly, revenues and expenses have increased as well to an average of USD $1,000,000 per year over the past six years.

"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime". This seems like a fitting slogan for Elks Aidmore and the work they do. The organization addresses the needs and priorities of youth and families in crisis, and teaches them the necessary skills so they can rebuild their lives. For more than eight decades, the organization has cared for Georgia's children through programs that focus on public education, affordable safe housing, vocational training, psychotherapy, exercise and recreational facilities. There is also a gym, zip line, pool, tennis courts, soccer and baseball fields, and canoeing that promote wellness, all under the caring eye of a highly trained staff.

Their corporate office is in Conyers, but they also offer Therapeutic Foster Care and Community-Based services in Savannah and Valdosta. An office in Dalton also opened on February 13th of this year. Elks Aidmore sits on one hundred and forty-one acres, originally a part of the private estate of a 1930's movie star, then owned by the Free Methodist Church which operated the program for orphaned children. In the late 1960's, the property was acquired by the France Wood Wilson Foundation, which continued to operate a children's program known as Plantation Manor. In 1977, the property was deeded to Elks Aidmore, under the condition that the program continue to serve children in need.

The overwhelming majority of Elks' referrals come from the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) or the Multi-Agency Alliance for Children (MAAC). In fact, Elks Aidmore was a founding member of MAAC. Continuously accredited since 1995 by the Council of Accreditation, a national body that recognizes programs which meet the highest national standards of performance. "In our field, it is the 'gold stamp of approval'," says Wilkinson.

The last council on Accreditation audit was in February of 2016, and Elks Aidmore received an expedited decision, meaning it had fulfilled all national standards. Only ten percent of agencies nationally receive the expedited decision. The organization works tirelessly toward protecting the rights of children and families, and ensuring their smooth transition back into normalcy.

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About The Author

Marina Jokic holds a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College in Russian and East...

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