Vashti Center speaks at Chamber Luncheon about helping youth grow strong

Published 8:49 pm Friday, October 2, 2015

Susan O’Neal, development director at the Vashti Center in Thomasville, spoke at the Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday about what her organization is doing to help children grow spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. 

Founded in 1903, the Vashti Center’s mission is to work with children and families to give them the resources to become stronger in all aspects of their lives. Over the past century, Vashti Center has helped thousands of kids recover from trauma, abuse and neglect and become productive community members.

“We evolved in the services we provide to meet the needs to the changing community,” O’Neal said. “In the 1970s, we began taking in boys and working with the state to take care of kids who had been removed from their homes, for family reasons or for abuse and neglect. For the last 20 years or so, we have been working with these types of kids in a residential care setting on our campus.”

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Some kids come with just the clothes on their back. Others arrive with a trash can of personal belongings. Sometimes they are angry, and they have a right to be after what they’ve been through, O’Neal said.

Currently, 30 kids stay at the Vashti Center at the Thomasville campus, where they have help from therapists, psychologists, physicians and caseworkers to grow and overcome the hardships they have been through. Kids have recovery plans made for them, and when they reach goals they have set out for themselves, they are rewarded.

What’s important is that the Vashti Center offers a place for these children to feel safe.

“It shouldn’t hurt to be a child. When I see kids come through our center, and how damaged and broken they are because of the things happening in their families, it is so important for us to address these issues when they are young, when they are still formative.”

O’Neal, who has been with the Vashti Center for a year and a half, said one of the reasons she wanted to join was the spiritual thread that runs through the organization.

“We recognize there is a God who loves these kids,” O’Neal said.