"There's five of [the youth homes] in the state of Georgia," Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap said. "The only way they have budget money is through fundraisers. You'll have a sheriff who has a golf tournament. You'll have a sheriff that has a motorcycle ride. There's benefits all the time. Well, one of my investigators who's recently retired and also is a pastor, Keith Milner, he came to me one day wanting to have a gospel singing and wanted it to be a benefit. He just asked me, he said 'What charity would be good?' And immediately, of course, me being a sheriff, [I said], 'The Georgia Sheriffs' Youth Homes because that's how they get their operating money is through fundraisers such as this.'
"The youth homes have been around for years. Troubled youth go there [and] youth that have lost their parents. There's certain qualifications that you have to have, but the kids -- male and female -- they get there, they have a place to live [and] they get good supervision. They go all the way up through college. They don't want for anything. But the economic times the way they are, the only way we get money for them is through having benefits."
Through its residential and camping programs, the Georgia Sheriffs' Youth Homes serve hundreds of children, who often were abused and neglected.
According to www.georgiasheriffs.org, "The purpose of Georgia Sheriffs' Youth Homes is to give our state's most at-risk children the love, safety and structure needed to become mature, successful adults. In the late 1950s, many Georgia sheriffs became increasingly concerned about the growing number of abandoned, neglected and abused children. They understood it was vital -- not just for the children, but for our state -- to give these disadvantaged youth the chance to grow up in a loving and safe home environment. So in 1960, the sheriffs opened Georgia Sheriffs' Boys Ranch near Hahira, where children could learn:
* Strong moral values and spiritual awareness
* How to overcome adversity
* Teamwork and accepting authority
* Personal responsibility
* Hygiene and manners.
"Over the years, four additional homes have opened across the state for both boys and girls -- providing thousands of disadvantaged youth the opportunity to live normal, positive lives in full-time residential facilities. House parents instill in the children a strong work ethic, emphasizing education and training for future success. These values help prepare the children to become mature, responsible adults."
For Brian Bagley, lead singer for Renewed -- an Adairsville-based Southern gospel trio -- supporting this cause alongside others in the gospel music industry is a win-win situation for all involved.
"The main reason [we wanted to participate] is the simple fact that it helps kids, period. It's like the old saying, 'When you invest in a kid's future, you invest in a lifetime,' because they'll remember it for a lifetime," Bagley said. "They may not remember us or the group or the singing, but as far as what they're taught while they're at the Sheriffs' Boys Camp [that] will stick with them for a lifetime and make them a better individual."
Admission to the Sheriff's Benefit Sing will be $10 at the door and a love offering will be collected. For more information, call 770-876-7426. The Clarence Brown Conference Center is located at 5450 State Route 20 in Cartersville.