How to help
Any business or organization that would like to join with Bald Ridge Lodge for outreach programs or activities can contact John Haigler at (770) 887-1220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As staff members at Bald Ridge Lodge try to heal the emotional and mental states of those in their care, they also attempt to make them better citizens.
The lodge provides a home for boys ages 13 and up who have been removed from their families due to intervention by the Department of Family and Children Services or juvenile courts.
John Haigler, director of the lodge, said 10 boys are currently housed there and the facility has room for up to a dozen.
“We try to provide our guys ongoing independent living skills,” Haigler said. “We want them to be better equipped to take care of themselves. As part of that, we also want them to be more civically minded.”
The lodge opened in August 2008. Haigler said over the past three and-a-half years staff members have worked “toward stability.”
“Whenever you first open any facility like this, in those first years you have to get basic things under control,” he said. “Making sure everyone’s fed, has clothes, medical care and a way to get to school, those sorts of things.
“But then you can move on to other things that provide enrichment for them, and that’s where we are now.”
As a first step, lodge staff recently joined with Keep Forsyth County Beautiful, or KFCB, and Advanced Disposal.
KFCB is a county agency that seeks to encourage environmentally friendly activities and practices, while Advanced Disposal is a waste management company that provides services such as garbage pick-up and recycling.
Through their partnership, Advanced Disposal provided recycling bins and pick-up service to the lodge, while KFCB has held several educational presentations on the importance of recycling.
Haigler said the program has been a success.
“The first few months, you would catch the guys throwing things into the garbage can and have to remind them,” he said. “But now they’re all on autopilot with it. They’re walking up and knowing exactly which recycling bin put which item.”
Marcie Kreager, community affairs manager with Advanced Disposal, said the partnership has been touching.
“It’s just awesome to watch kids who came here having never even heard of recycling go from that to caring about the environment,” she said.
Haigler said the boys regularly participate in community service projects, such as helping other local nonprofits with fundraisers. But he would like to see more businesses and organizations come forward with activities to help the boys become better citizens.
His wish list includes ongoing mentoring programs and outdoor activities.
He said he’s spoken to Forsyth County Master Gardeners about working with the boys on a vegetable garden, and Kevin Smith with KFCB said he wants to work with the boys on river cleanups and possible kayaking trips.
“We want to get involved in anything that can provide enrichment for these young men so they can become high functioning individuals,” Smith said.
Haigler said such opportunities can make a world of difference to the lodge residents.
“By having things for them to do and caring people besides [staff] come in and work with them, that’s how we keep these beds from becoming prison beds,” he said.