The Fostering Bulloch organization hopes to purchase 30 acres in Bulloch County to use as a campground that would serve at-risk youth and children in foster care — and it needs help from the community to make that vision a reality.
Fostering Bulloch is under contract with a bank to buy a portion of what was formerly the Smithville Golf Course that includes rolling acreage set against the backdrop of Cypress Lake.
"To secure the first step on this amazing journey, we need to raise $120,000 before the end of November to purchase the land," said Chris Yaughn, founder of Fostering Bulloch. "We will not take out a loan against the property. If we are to be there, God will provide."
Yaughn freely admits that many people would say reaching such a lofty goal in such a short time frame is almost impossible. But, he added, "We serve a very, very big God."
The visionary for the project, Yaughn has plans for the campground, too. The venue will be designed to host Teen Reach Adventure Camps, which focus on revealing the love of Christ by giving foster youth a safe place to share their stories.
"Our goal is to show them they are valuable and valued in the eyes of God; a safe place for foster youth to play, forgive and heal," he said.
Teen Reach Adventure Camps are three-day, gender-separated Christian summer camps for foster children ages 12–15 across Georgia. Also, the campground would be available during the year to agencies in Bulloch County that work with children, at-risk youth and local foster children.
Once completed, the facility will feature cabins, a rock wall, a zip line, fishing docks, an archery range, a low ropes course, athletic fields and canoes.
Yaughn said the property he wants to buy adjoins the new Broken Shackles Ranch footprint.
"Broken Shackles has over 30 years experience in working with young men in the system to help them succeed," he said. "We will have a collaborative effort to impact the community for one common impact on children in need."
In a recent transaction with gifts from Joseph's Home for Boys and the Tyson Foundation, Broken Shackles purchased approximately 12 acres with a clubhouse and second facility, which will serve as the next boys' home in Bulloch County.
Yaughn realized his compassion for foster children about five years ago, when he said he noticed Statesboro residents Julie Franklin and Bessie Whitlock with their foster children.
"I felt like I wasn't doing something I was supposed to be doing," he said.
Yaughn found out that at the time, Bulloch County had only five open foster homes. He and his wife, Kim, went through the training to become foster parents and have housed more than a dozen kids over the past several years, along with their own children, Katie, 11; Tyler, 9; Mat, 6; and Michael, 9 months.
When Yaughn looked for other local fostering organizations at which to help, he couldn't find a place to volunteer. So, he eventually formed Fostering Bulloch, with the early mission to provide much-needed clothing items for foster kids, who sometimes leave their homes with only the clothes on their backs.
Yaughn said he's seen many "God moments" during his time working with foster children, from the donation of a building to house donated clothing items — the old NAPA Auto Parts store downtown — to another incident that involved a boat.
Yaughn was doing a countertop job in his former career and noticed a boat in the customer's backyard. Eventually, the client donated the boat to Fostering Bulloch. That very same day, someone dropped off lifejackets in a separate donation.
"Who sends life jackets to a clothing closet?" Yaughn asked, laughing, giving God credit for the gift.
Yaughn gets emotional when he speaks about the great need for support in the community for foster children. He's especially passionate about the prospects of a campground facility for foster kids that will also benefit the community.
"Everyone else can borrow it," Yaughn said. "But it's for the foster kids. It's built for them first, because they get seconds on everything — parents, friends, siblings, clothes."
For more information or to make a tax-free donation, call (912) 690-2498, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.fosteringbulloch.com or go to any branch of Sea Island Bank.