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Working with kids

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By Todd Cohen

SILER CITY, N.C. — A ministry of Hico Baptist Church in Graham has started a year-round boarding school in Siler City for teens ages 12 to 18 who are homeless, pregnant or at risk of getting into trouble.

Opened in November, Grace Haven Academy aims to raise $250,000 to renovate an existing building and add new buildings at a 50-acre site just outside town on Crestmont Drive that formerly housed a Christian summer camp, says Tony Honeycutt, the school’s founder and director.

Grace Haven ministry helps pastors in Kenya in East Africa establish churches, supplies them with Christian materials, and is supported by roughly 55 churches in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The academy, founded by Honeycutt after spending 11 years in Kenya, has registered with the state Department of Nonpublic Education, which regulates private schools.

The school initially wants to raise $100,000 from churches, individuals and businesses to cover the cost of buying the property, renovating an existing building and constructing a new one, Honeycutt says.

As part of the fundraising effort, donors who give $1,000 will have their names listed on a “Founders Wall.”

The school also distributes a quarterly newsletter that lists items and supplies it needs.

The two-story building, which the ministry has renovated over the past three years, includes a dormitory on the second floor, with separate halls for boys and girls, and a dining hall, recreation hall, living room and kitchen on the first floor.

The dorm has 21 beds, although the school plans in its first year to accept only 12 children.

Students can apply or are referred by local school systems and churches, and the county juvenile justice departments.

Two couples, including Honeycutt and his wife, Tammy, serve as the staff, along with two volunteers, plus other volunteers who are available when needed.

The main focus of the school is on children who are homeless or at risk for a variety of problems, such as running away from home, abusing drugs or alcohol, fighting or making bad decisions.

The school also has set aside two beds initially for pregnant teens.

It also has built a print shop in which students can help produce, collate and fold training materials the ministry sends to Africa.

Eventually, Honeycutt says, the school would like to build individual cabins that students can move into after living in the main dorm, creating room there for new students.

For information, call 866.497.6737 toll-free, or visit gracehavenministries.org.

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