Nonprofit for youth shuts doors

COVINGTON -- Project Adventure Inc. has closed its doors after more than 25 years in Newton County.

The nonprofit organization that served as a treatment and residency program for abused, neglected and troubled youth ended services on May 28, according to Executive Director Aaron Nicholson.

"We've done wonderful work here that has changed thousands of young lives. I believe the dream is still alive. It's the means behind the dream we need to work on now," he said.

The word came down several months ago from the organization's corporate office in Beverly, Mass., that the facility would be closed due to a decline in referrals from state agencies, Nicholson said. He said Project Adventure has seen a 40 percent decrease during the last two years in referrals from the Department of Family and Children Services and the Department of Juvenile Justice. Because referrals came with state funds, the organization has experienced a significant decline in revenues and is no longer able to maintain operations at its headquarters on Elks Club Road or its 14 group homes throughout the county. Nicholson said state agencies are increasingly trying to keep children in their homes or in foster care within their own communities in an effort to save money.

Most of the 60-member staff has already been laid off, Nicholson said. The staff was given 90 days notice to allow time to look for other employment, he added.

The facility on Elks Club Road will remain under the ownership of Project Adventure and may be used for community-based programs in the future, he said. Nicholson said the organization terminated its leases on the group homes.

Project Adventure served young people ages 12 to 21, with an average of about 5 percent of its population from Newton County.

"I want to thank the community for accepting Project Adventure over the past 20-plus years. It has been wonderful to be able to serve Newton County. I've heard terror stories from other executive directors working in counties where red tape is put up. Newton County, if anything, only opened more doors," Nicholson said.

Project Adventure is hosting a yard sale at its facility at 396 Elks Club Road beginning Monday. Furniture, office supplies and other items from its facilities will be for sale. The yard sale is expected to run all week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.