GEORGETOWN — For the first time, Georgetown’s Tara Hall Home for Boys held an on-campus fundraiser Saturday as the Tara Hall Paddle Fest took to the water.
The fundraiser was aimed at increasing the staff of the school by one, which will allow the home to operate at a maximum capacity of 24 students.
For years, Tara Hall has existed without the necessary staff member that will allow it service at its maximum capacity, but Tara Hall Director Jim Dumm said he hopes the Paddle Fest will turn out enough donations to allow the home to work to a higher degree.
“With as good of a facility we have now and as good of a program we have in place, we want more kids to be taking advantage of it,” Dumm said.
As of now, Tara Hall houses 18 students, but with room for six more. The cost of employing and housing the new employee comes to approximately $50,000 a year.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Tara Hall operated at a level of 34 students – an all-time high. Throughout the years, though, the facility eventually fell to eight students during the mid 2000s.
Now, the Tara Hall’s enrollment has been bolstered by an increased emphasis on creating and maintaining relationships with area school districts.
Dumm said since Tara Hall began reaching out to schools for trouble students, the number of referrals have increased dramatically.
“We made a concerted effort to reintroduce ourselves to the community. We went to the school districts around here just to remind the guidance counselors, school nurses and the people that come in daily contact with kids that might need our services to remind them that we’re here,” he said. “As a result, the referrals have increased.”
For now, though, Tara Hall has a waiting list for six students and hopes are that the Paddle Fest will bring in enough money to pay for the extra staff member.
By adding the extra staff member and moving the facility up to full capacity, Dumm said it will not just benefit the children still on the waiting list, but also, those already at Tara Hall.
“The more kids you have in care at one time, the more you can do,” he said. “It gets hard to fill out intramural teams and do some other things we we’re not at full capacity.”
Paddle Fest began at noon Saturday, with participants launching their kayaks and canoes on Black Mingo Creek and paddling to Tara Hall Home for Boys. Once at the campus, they enjoyed bluegrass jam sessions, games, the annual redneck barrel race, a chicken bog dinner, door prizes and more.
Tara Hall is a nationally accredited, long-term, residential home and school that accepts neglected, troubled, and abused boys. Whether they have been taken away from abuse and neglect or sent away from their homes because of their unmanageable behavior, at Tara Hall they come together as brothers and leave as changed young men. For more information about Tara Hall, visit www.tarahall.org or www.facebook.com/TaraHallHomeforBoys.