When the team at the Bald Ridge Lodge came to Adam Rodes with the task of building its new Victoria Hill Pavilion, he wasn’t sure what to expect.
The nonprofit stabilization and assessment center serving boys ages 12-21 began the project, giving the boys a place to relax and spend time outdoors, thanks to its namesake, Miss Georgia 2019 and Miss America runner-up 2020 Victoria Hill.
She had come to the team with an idea to fundraise for the project, later holding a gala where $18,000 was raised.
After looking at bids for the project from builders and contractors, Rodes, a board member with the Bald Ridge Lodge, said he knew the Forsyth County community would be willing to help even more so they could save some of the funds raised for other important projects.
“So we had the awesome idea of …why don’t we just get all of this donated?” Rodes said. “What if we don’t have to spend any money on it?”
He partnered with Chris Wakefield, president of The Outdoor Lights in Cumming, to begin looking for supplies and partners in the community who could help bring the project together.
They began the project over the last year when lumber shortages began to skyrocket across the U.S. Although they knew it would be difficult, Wakefield and Rodes wanted to find quality, rough-cut cedar to create the pavilion at the Bald Ridge Lodge.
As he watched lumber prices climb, Rodes said they basically begged others to donate or give a discounted cost on the wood. Over the next few months, he debated whether they should go ahead and pay for the lumber while Wakefield checked with one of his friends who owns a sawmill nearby every couple of weeks.
One day, out of the blue, Wakefield called Rodes and told him he had the lumber.
“As it turns out, somebody Chris knows down [in South Georgia that] had some land, and this land had these old cedars on it,” Rodes said. “They had all been toppled a few years ago during Hurricane Michael, and they were getting ready to do some clearing anyway. So Chris was able to finagle the getting of this lumber …. and get it over to the sawmill.”
During the time spent finding lumber, others in the community volunteered to help get the site ready for construction.
Rodes said North Georgia Foundations, owned by the Wade family in Woodstock, donated all the concrete needed for the project while Lance Walker, owner of Curbco Inc., in Cumming, and his team volunteered to clear the site, level it and lay the concrete.
Once Wakefield was able to get the lumber to the Bald Ridge Lodge, others in the community volunteered to help build it.
Rodes said he called Jeff Mogan, a leader with local company Corner Farms, to help with building. At the time, he couldn’t help, but he sent Rodes in the direction of another local builder and offered to pay the bill completely for construction.
Martin Shepard, founder and CEO of Reset Roofing, donated the roof, bringing his team out to build onto the pavilion.
Then, only finishing touches were left. Mark Thompson, president of Envirodek Concrete Resurfacing, donated and added a thick paint to the concrete that helps to regulate temperature during the summer. Rotary clubs from throughout the county donated lights, and volunteers helped to hang them up outside.
And as part of a project, a local Eagle Scout helped to stain the pavilion and build storage boxes and benches using the leftover wood.
Between the Eagle Scouts, parents, and Rotary members, Rodes said volunteers surrounded the pavilion during those final days of construction. The lodge held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in late October to unveil the Victoria Hill Pavilion.
“It was a community effort,” he said. “It’s been a blessing for the lodge.”
Rodes has been on the Bald Ridge Lodge’s governing board for five to six years and has volunteered at the nonprofit since 2014. After a while, he started to mentor some of the boys who resided there and, ultimately, began fostering kids with his wife.
Through his experience, Rodes said he knows just how much the pavilion will mean to the boys at the lodge, who he said need a space that truly feels like home.
“For us, it may just be a pavilion, which we would take for granted in our backyard,” Rodes said. “But for them, it’s something that makes the whole place and the whole experience a little more normal, which for a teenage boy, normal is a lot of what they look for and a lot of what they need through those formative years.”
For more information on the Bald Ridge Lodge, visit www.baldridgelodge.org.