By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
SAFFT house debuts
Open for tours on Saturday
safft house worker 1 jd
Vicki Bolick adds some color Wednesday to one of the rooms in the SAFFT house. The nonprofit group will hold a grand opening Saturday for the family visitation and community support center in Cumming. - photo by Jim Dean
At a glance

A grand opening celebration is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at the SAFFT center, 608 Veterans Memorial Blvd.
Local adoptive and foster families have begun to settle in at their new home.

Supporting Adoption and Foster Families Together, or SAFFT, has already held some meetings in its new center on Veterans Memorial Boulevard.

“[The families] are very excited. We’ve already had our parent night out here,” said Ashley Anderson, a foster parent and executive director of the organization. “We’re also scheduling orientations and getting things going.”

The nonprofit group will hold a grand opening for the family visitation and community support center Saturday. It will include a ribbon cutting ceremony and tours of the new facility, she said.

The center will provide a safe place for supervised visitation of children with biological family members, as well as space for meetings and educational programs.

SAFFT will also work with the Department of Family and Children Services and Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, of Forsyth County to arrange court-approved visitation between families separated by law.

The nonprofit worked with Juvenile Court Judge Russell Jackson to receive approval from the county for a no-cost lease of the old Hansard House.

The only stipulation was that the county can reclaim the property, which was once the planned site of a new jail, if needed.

Even a year with the center would be worth the work to renovate the house, Anderson said at county commission meeting in December.

The project to restore the site for use by the nonprofit began early this year, with the recently graduated Leadership Forsyth class heading up the effort.

The local program provides training and education for emerging local leaders. Each year, members choose a class project that will be of lasting benefit to the community. This class chose the SAFFT center.

“We had a few people who had backgrounds in construction ... who were obviously a huge factor in the process,” said Marcia Englefield, class spokeswoman.

Those who couldn’t construct contributed in other ways like painting, lifting, making phone calls, getting donations and holding fundraisers.

“It was a really hard year to raise cash,” Englefield said, “but people were really willing to give time.”

Thanks to several other local businesses, the project finished with some money left over, she said, which will go toward SAFFT’s operating expenses.

The 32 members in the Leadership Forsyth class wanted to select a project that would help children and families, Englefield said, so the timing couldn’t have been better.

“To help families who are in one way or another less fortunate means a lot to us,” she said.

While the center is ready to open, Anderson noted some projects remain. The fence needs painting and the children’s garden area could use tilling.

SAFFT is also always accepting donations of toys or activities for children to play with, she said, though stuffed animals cannot be accepted.

The center has already received much help from the local community, Anderson said, having many donate supplies for construction and toys for children of all ages.