Georgia Youth Home provides alternative for young men in jail

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News 12 This Morning/Tuesday May 13, 2014

(WRDW)--A swing and a hit to help raise money for the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a faith based organization that serves as an alternative to jail for young men.

Young men like 22-year-old Cody Palmer who spent 18 and a half months with the Youth Home.

"It started with me disrespecting my parents," he explained.

In high school at the time, Palmer says he was dealing with a lot under the surface.

"I was struggling with drugs. I was struggling with just being happy. I didn't know why," he said. "It looked like I had everything together but underneath...I was just falling apart."

He says eventually he ended up behind bars.

"It lead to a month in jail and I was supposed to serve a pretty major before my mom found out about the youth home," Palmer explained.

The home, based in Vidalia, accepts up to 20 young men between age 16 and 20 at any given time, using academics, religious learning and physical work to help them start fresh.

"Thirty-six thousand juveniles are arrested every week in America," said Drew Read, the Youth Home's chief operating officer. "Basically, our philosophy is if you're going to change that 36,000 you've got to intentionally invest in one."

"Believe me, when I came to Youth Home it wasn't easy," said Palmer. "I didn't want to be there, but I knew it was better than where I was. There was no hope in jail. There was no hope."

Now, a graduate Palmer says he's in college studying marketing and his hope is now renewed.

"There is hope every single day and there is opportunity every single day. And that's what they provide for you and so that right there makes you want to do something different," he said. "And if it doesn't? Then that's just bad for you."

Since opening in 1961, more than 1,200 men have been served by the Youth Home according to their records.

And, although they're based in Georgia, they've helped youth from 17 states.

Youth Home officials say only about 10 percent of those who've graduated from the program have ended up back in jail.

For more information about the Home, click on the attached link.

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