Girls Ranch offers safe home for girls

In 2017, a couple with three daughters decided to have a date night. After hiring a babysitter for the evening, the parents took off to dinner and a movie. Once the couple finished dinner, they called home to tell their daughters good night, and while driving from the restaurant to the movie, the couple was killed in a head-on collision.

Following the accident, the three girls went to live with their grandparents. However, their grandfather died shortly after they arrived, and their grandmother passed away six months later. Without any other family members to help care for them, the three girls needed a place to call home. For young women like these three, there is a place in Tallapoosa County providing a setting where they feel loved and cared for.

Under the leadership of director Jimmy Harmon, the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Girls Ranch is located near Camp Hill and offers care for girls ages 6 through 18. The young women are taught the skills they will need to succeed in the future, while also receiving valuable spiritual, emotional and physical development to further build the girls into stronger women. While there are those who stay at the ranch until they graduate from high school and others who stay for a shorter time period, every young woman who comes through the program knows everyone at the ranch loves her and cares about her.

One thing Harmon said the ranch stresses to the public is it is not a correctional facility, but instead gives its young women a home-like environment where school attendance is mandatory and extracurriculars are encouraged. Some of the girls even have a job and do volunteer work while living at the ranch.

Since he began working at the ranch, Harmon said he has seen many of the girls who come through the program become successful both while at the ranch and after leaving, including the three young women whose story he shared.

“The sisters have been at the ranch for around three months now and are doing very well,” Harmon said. “The oldest just made the volleyball team (at her school), the middle child is doing great in school and carries around a ready smile and the youngest is able to be a kid. She loves swimming, fishing and helping feed the animals.”

Recently, Harmon said the oldest of the three children came to him, thanking the ranch for taking her and her two younger sisters in, while also saying how much she loved the houseparents who have helped look after the three of them.

“While these young ladies have had a lot of loss to cope with and a great deal of issues to be healed, at least they now know they have a safe and secure environment and people that love and cherish them, as their parents did not so long ago,” Harmon said.

For more information about the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Girls Ranch and what it provides to those living there, the facility’s telephone number is 256-896-4113, while the ranch can also be found on Facebook by searching Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch.

INFO BOX- For those who may be interested in helping the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Girls Ranch beyond donating to the United Way, Harmon said the ranch can always use toiletries, laundry detergent and dishwashing soap for the residencies. As the ranch is also a working farm, he said donations of livestock and farm equipment are always welcome. Lastly, Harmon said the ranch can use art supplies, kitchen supplies, clothing and prom/homecoming dresses.