MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
"I would have been dead."
That's what 18-year old Jamie Hall claims would have happened had Group Homes For Children not taken her in about a month ago.
"The home I was in was abusive," she said.
That was back in Philadelphia. Hall came to Montgomery by bus to stay with friends but eventually got what she considers the love and care at one of the four homes in Montgomery.
In fact, Hall says she literally walked up and knocked on the front of the home on South Court Street.
"They were kind and asked if I needed anything," said Hall.
All the more reason why Hall is stunned her home away from home is shutting down.
"It's sad because they did help me," Hall said.
And she's not alone.
Karen Sellers runs the Family Sunshine Center, a center that offers shelter and counseling for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The One Place Family Justice Center will also be impacted.
"We had an agreement with them to take in male children over 13. It's going to be one less resource we'll have," said Sellers.
SAFY is the non-profit agency that runs Group Homes For Children. SAFY leaders say even though they didn't lose any contracts and the private donations were there, they claim the money just wasn't enough to keep it going. On any given day up to 25 children stayed at the four homes in the city. SAFY declined to say just how much it needed to keep up with operations.
"These are older homes and they needed a lot of upkeep. Also, we didn't have enough to offer extracurricular activities and tutoring to the children," said SAFY Executive Director Demetria Parnell.
At least one former employee still can't make sense of it all, especially since SAFY says it spent around $500,000 one year ago for payroll, computers and renovations.
"I just don't agree with it," said Myisha Brown who only worked for Group Homes For Children for 3 months before losing her job along with 30 other workers.
Nevertheless, Parnell says by late October all four homes in Montgomery will be closed. SAFY is already working with DHR to move the children to other alternative homes.
"We've already transitioned some of these children to alternative homes and the ultimate goal is to reunite them with their families," said Parnell.
As for Jamie Hall she says her life is back on track. Hall will graduate from high school next May, plans to get an apartment next week and is making plans to go to college.
Hall is smiling again these days which means she got the treatment she needed.. just in time.
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