Augusta Youth Center will pursue founder's vision

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December 21, 2006

AUGUSTA, Ga.---It's a safe haven for inner city children, a home away from home.

It was Patricia Jones' vision 25 years ago.

Since it was founded in 1984, more than 2000 children have passed through the Augusta Youth Center.

Now, after the founder's death, the interim director says not to worry: the Augusta Youth Center will continue Pat Jones' legacy.

Tia Johnson is a product of the Augusta Youth Center. She's now a sophomore at Savannah State, home for Christmas break.

She never knew her hospital visit this week to former mentor Pat Jones would be the last time she would ever see her.

"I asked if she remembered me, and I told her I missed her," Tia said of the visit.

Pat Jones started the Augusta Youth Center in 1984. It's now housed in the renovated former Fire Station One on Watkins Street.

Over the years, the center has struggled to stay open.

Those who knew Pat Jones knew her love of elephants. To her they were a symbol of strength. And many say it was that same strength that helped Jones keep the center open.

"She said she didn't want her work to be in vain," said Dolores Brooks, interim director of the center. "There were times she would say, 'I don't know where I am going to get this,' and she said, 'I feel a blessing would come,' and within a few days something would come through."

Brooks says she plans to continue Pat's vision, and she says the future of the center is bright.

"I'm hoping with the support of the community I will be able to continue her mission."

"Ain't going to see her here laughing and making sure everybody eats their food," Tia said.

Many children were asking when Pat Jones would return to the center.

But little do they know...most likely she's already there.

Funeral services for Pat Jones will be Saturday morning at 11 o'clock at Good Shepherd Baptist Church, off Olive Road.