Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 16, 2013

Golden Girls Group Home gets $50K grant

Lee Ward
The Independent

CEREDO — Tammy Elliott has a unique outlook on the Golden Girl Group Home.

She’s a supportive counselor at the nonprofit group home for girls, but she’s also a former resident.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them,” she said. “They loved me and I didn’t get love. I’d been in a lot of placements and they are the ones who cared about me.”

Elliott is one of many workers, volunteers and residents who is excited about a $50,000 educational grant the home received from the AEP Foundation.

A check was presented to the home on Friday; the money will be used to renovate the third floor of the main building. That space will be used for afterschool activities.

Nikki Thomas, advancement coordinator, said the new room will include a library, study areas and tutoring sites. The grant will cover the cost of the renovation and computers.

“A lot of the girls are behind in their education, so it’s much needed,” Thomas said.

Residents are bright, but often have several strikes against them academically when they arrive, Julie Demattie, clinical director, said.

“When girls come to us, sometimes they have mental health issues. Often they’re in a new school, which puts them behind. Some schools are on block schedules and some are on period schedules. It’s a terrible situation,” she said. “Often they come from families that don’t put value on education.”

Add anxiety, depression and lack of coping skills and the idea of trying to get ahead in school seems overwhelming. Demattie said an afterschool program will be a big help.

Thomas said tutors already have come to the home to assist residents, but the room will provide a better space and a centralized location for studies and computers will have software to help students study for ACT tests.

Program director Cecilia Ross, who has worked at the home for 28 years, said afterschool programs also will include visits from guest speakers.

“We’ll have successful business people talk about their experiences and give them advice,” she said.

Competition for the grant was intense; the home was chosen from 1,500 other agencies to receive the money.

Golden Girls was founded in 1983 by Judy Gilkerson, who now works there as an administrative consultant and therapist.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.