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United Methodist Children’s Home signs leases in DeKalb

 

The United Methodist Children’s Home (UMCH), which announced earlier this year it would be leaving its Decatur location after 144 years, will soon have two new locations, the nonprofit announced Aug. 7.

 UMCH officials announced they will begin the process of relocating its residents, administrative building and flea market by mid-August to Tucker and Clarkston.

 Currently located on a 77-acre campus at 500 Columbia Drive in Decatur, the nonprofit signed a lease for property 1967 Lakeside Parkway in Tucker.

 “We now have a new residential base from which to expand our ministry. This milestone opens a much wider path to continue providing services to people in DeKalb County and to serve many more people in new communities across North Georgia,” said Rev. Hal Jones, president and CEO of UMCH.  “The new space is perfectly suited for UMCH staff to provide services to clients in foster care, family housing, independent living and transitional living,” said Jones. “The site also provides a new location for the UMCH flea market, a decades-long tradition that will continue.”

 On April 17, the Decatur Commission approved the purchase of the UMCH’s 77-acre campus for $40 million.

 According to John Cerniglia, vice president of development for UMCH, selling the Decatur property was the best choice for serving the children and families in their care.

 “It’s a really smart location for us. The new locations really fit with our culture and our mission…Tucker and Clarkston are perfect for us,” Cerniglia said.

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 Cerniglia said nonprofits divesting their real estate property is a “new trend.” When UMCH was first established, having a 77-acre property made sense, he said. Cerniglia said moving and downsizing the number of acres is a strategic move.

 “We are a ministry that serves 52 counties in north Georgia and location is a strategic choice. One hundred forty forty years ago when we occupied Decatur it was farmable land that we needed, but since then cars and highways were invented,” said Cerniglia, laughing. “This property is not situated on an interstate. The new properties will be a couple miles from the northern corner of Interstate 285 and Interstate 85.”

 Cerniglia said 80 residents will be relocated to their new homes over the next month. Since 1973, UMCH has cared for more than 6,000 at-risk young adults by providing foster care homes. Currently UMCH serves 240 children and adults daily. However due to limited resources, UMCH turns away 30 children weekly who need foster homes, Cerniglia said.

 “I think I speak for [UMCH] when I say this is all about the children and the mission…no group of people would choose to vacate unless they were motivated by mission,” Cerniglia said. “We are called to serve more families and children than we are today. We hope to serve 300 next year and 700 a day by the year 2020. This will be a historic day and week as we move off the property.”

 

 

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