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Elks Aidmore receives $5,000 grant

CONYERS -- Elks Aidmore Children's Center announced it has received a $5,000 grant to support capital improvement projects at its 141-acre campus in Rockdale County.

The grant award was provided by the Mary Allen Lindsey Branan Foundation and is administered through Wells Fargo. The money will be targeted for renovation and other improvements at the children's center, located on Morrison Road near Conyers.

"We are in the early stages of capital improvements on our campus and very appreciative of the support of the Mary Allen Lindsey Branan Foundation," said Elks Aidmore CEO Abe Wilkinson in a statement. "Grant funding will be used to assist with current projects."

This year, the center has replaced the gym's roof and ceiling, renovated three kitchens in the cottages and the foyer of the administration building, along with replacing cottage gutters and soffits.

Also, local Eagle Scout community projects have made the gym handicapped accessible, added benches and landscaping and provided a bicycle storage area for residents.

Elks Aidmore appears to be turning a corner this year after coming close to closing. Originally, the center was founded in the 1930s as an orphanage on the estate of silent movie star Colleen Moore.

In recent years, the center served children in need. This year, Elks Aidmore is expanding its mission to help more children with a Therapeutic Foster Care program scheduled to begin next month through a contract with the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, according to Dawn Robinson Butler, Elks Aidmore director of development and communications.

"It will allow the agency to provide therapeutic family foster care in the Conyers, Covington, Athens triangle and in the Valdosta area in south Georgia," Butler said in an email response to questions. "We are already receiving calls about those services."

Elks Aidmore also has plans to open a second satellite in Valdosta sometime in 2012.

Elks Aidmore currently is home to about 20 children with the center providing services to another 70 through its Community Based Alternatives for Youth (CBAY) program.

Butler explained the CBAY program is a non-residential program, designed to keep high-risk youth in their families and communities.

Also, Elks Aidmore will reopen the Willis Cottage on campus next month to provide services to an additional six to eight girls.

The center's fund-raising efforts are ongoing. The next major event planned is a music festival on April 28, 2012, at the Georgia International Horse Park.

For more information, go to www.elksaidmore.com or www.elksaidmoremusicfestival.com.