Boys at the Bald Ridge Lodge have a new spot to gather thanks to the work of some members of the community and a Miss America contestant.
On Thursday, Oct. 28, officials with the Bald Ridge Lodge, a stabilization and assessment center serving boys ages 12-21, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Victoria Hill Pavilion, named in honor of Miss Georgia 2019 and Miss America runner-up 2020 Victoria Hill.
“I am sitting here with tears in my eyes, and I am just so honored to be here,” Hill said at the ceremony. “First of all, I’m so proud of everyone that is here and everyone who is involved here with these young men. You are all doing such an incredible thing and impacting the futures of so many by what you do.”
While competing for Miss America, Hill, a Canton native, had a social impact initiative called “Flip the Script on Foster Care,” a cause she said she was interested in since two of her uncles were adopted from the foster care system.
In fall 2019, Hill hosted a gala to raise money for the lodge and Angel House in Canton, where about $30,000 was raised, with about $18,000 to go toward the pavilion.
“The pavilion is really, really incredible,” Hill said, “and I’m just a broke college student, so it’s something that is very inspiring to me to see something that is the impact of just one small person’s voice and the passion and love to serve and invest in others and what a difference that can make.”
After meetings between Hill and Bald Ridge officials, the plan was moving forward, eventually getting approval from Forsyth County in February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic became a national concern.
Angela Dikes, executive director of the lodge, said just as work on the pavilion was set to begin, finding contractors and materials became an issue once many residential customers began renovating homes.
Adam Rodes, a member of the lodge’s board who served as volunteer project manager for the project, said while Hill had helped with fundraising for the project, he was also able to find members of the community and businesses to help with work and supplies, such as getting lumber, building the pavilion, painting building boxes and benches for the pavilion, adding a roof, paving and sealing pavement and running electricity to the area for lights and fans.
Rodes said all-in-all, the lodge would still have the majority of the money raised to be used for other projects.
“This was not Victoria’s intent,” Rodes said. “Victoria’s intent was to help facilitate $18,000 to build a pavilion, but through the generosity of this community and through the vision of Victoria, not only did the boys get a brand-new beautiful pavilion, but the lodge probably still has about $15,000 of that money. As a nonprofit who is serving boys day in and day out, every penny counts.”
Adi Patel, chair of the lodge’s board of directors, said the center has already had a busy 2021.
“In 2021 so far, we’ve been able to serve 22 boys,” he said. “Out of those 22 boys, 10 we’ve been able to serve for over a year now, and 12 have successfully been reunited with their families, and that’s the impact we’re making because of your support.”
Dikes told those in attendance that the pavilion represented a “mile-marker” for the organization and its mission and said she was thankful for all that were involved with the pavilion and the lodge.“[The boys at the lodge] are facing adversity that keeps them from living at home, so we are that home away from home for them,” Dikes said. “We provide a safe and therapeutic environment for them where they have their needs met and past traumas addressed and practice their life skills that they are going to need to be successful adults.”