The local center, which was established 30 years ago, was honored for their work with young people during the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for Children’s annual conference on Nov. 15. This was the first time the center had received the award.
“The Board of Directors, staff and community volunteers have worked tirelessly over the past three years to transform CCYA from a youth shelter into a youth academy developing and preparing homeless, neglected and abused youth for self-sufficiency,” CEO Kim Borna said. “Receiving this award acknowledges all of our hard work and teamwork as a community and validates our commitment to Cobb’s most vulnerable citizens.”
Shellee Spagnoletto of east Cobb, who also serves as president of The Circle for Children, nominated CCYA for the honor in late October.
“Since Kim Borna took over as CEO in 2010, she has made some amazing transitions with the organization,” Spagnoletto said. “When I see the personal dedication, it’s just so motivating and inspiring. I think that she truly has made it a very loving atmosphere, and I think the kids really need that.”
This is the sixth year that members of The Circle for Children have decided to fundraise for the center. Over the past five years, they have raised nearly half a million dollars for it through an annual spring gala.
“We want to support organizations that really need us,” Spagnoletto said. “Typically we keep it at about three years to help, but we just love the CCYA.”
Additionally, about 260 members often volunteer with the center serving dinner to the kids or hosting parties or Easter egg hunts for children.
Maureen Lok of Marietta, a member of The Circle for Children and board chair for CCYA, has volunteered with the center for about 10 years as a master gardener.
“This award signifies the hard work that we’ve undertaken in the past to change the center from kind of a warehousing place to a home,” she said.
The center can serve up to 39 children between 12 and 21 years old in three different homes: Open Gate for girls, Another Chance for boys, and Life Works, which is a transitional living program for boys and girls 17 to 21 years old.
Merrill Baker, the center’s director of development, said, “These kids are without families, whether abandoned or their parents may be in prison or passed away.”
They accept children from all over the state and since 1982 have been home to more than 7,500 children.
“It was founded by several community leaders and organizations, including DFCS, Junior League and Kiwanis Clubs,” Baker said. “They all sort of came together because they needed a shelter for these kids.”