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Holiday home tours benefit troubled youth

POSTED: December 8, 2008 5:00 a.m.
CLAIRE MILLER/

A Christmas tree stands in the dining room of Jean Beck's home in Traditions of Braselton. The tree is one of several scattered throughout Beck's home, which will be part of the Traditions Tour of Homes on Saturday and Dec. 7.

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HOSCHTON — Two residential communities are holding their own holiday home tours next weekend, both benefiting homes for troubled youth.

Reunion, located in Hoschton, will offer tours to benefit Hall County’s Eagle Ranch and Traditions of Braselton tours will help the Amanda House in Jackson County.

On Saturday, Reunion plans to showcase eight houses, one of which will boast 17 Christmas trees, according to activities director Carrie Neville.

Located in Flowery Branch, Eagle Ranch is a nonprofit organization that offers children in crisis a place to live, attend school and receive counseling. The organization is the largest children’s home in Northeast Georgia and serves 54 children, including 42 boys and 12 girls.

Eddie Staub, founder and executive director, said Eagle Ranch aids children in need of a helping hand.

"I started it to help children that needed a chance in life," he said.

Staub said Eagle Ranch and Reunion joined efforts for the home tour with the help of John Wieland.

Wieland serves on Eagle Ranch’s advisory board and is head of the real estate development company, John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods. Reunion is one of the company’s developments.

"Since Reunion is a neighbor of ours, we wanted to make them aware of what we are and what we do," Staub said. "We’re just appreciative of Reunion for doing this for us."

Reunion is located at 5620 Grand Reunion Drive in Hoschton and tours will be offered from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Traditions of Braselton will offer tours throughout next weekend.

Six of the homeowners in Traditions of Braselton will open their homes to the public on Saturday and Dec. 7 for its first Tour of Homes. Area residents will have the opportunity to see several homes decorated for Christmas with proceeds going to the Amanda House, a nonprofit organization for abused teenage girls.

Martha Martin, owner of Phil Mart Transportation in Braselton, said Jackson County residents Bob and Melinda Morgan started Amanda House and named it after the first daughter they fostered and later adopted.

"He saw such a need in the county for the home for the teenage girls, so he decided to purchase the house and some property," said Martin, who also serves on the board of directors for Amanda House. "You can get the small children placed in foster homes, but you don’t have nearly as many boys abused as you do girls."

She said the house is completed, but the organization still needs to get a occupational permit before placing girls in the home.

"We’re trying to get an occupancy permit, but, in the meantime, your mortgage still continues to go and you still have to pay the bills, even though we don’t have any girls living there yet," Martin said. "We’ve had to have fundraisers to keep it going."

That’s where Chad Rising, pastor of Cave Springs Baptist Church who works with Christian Outreach Ministries in Commerce, got involved with the event, she said.

"He suggested this tour of homes. We went to the people in Traditions and we asked if they would be interested in doing a tour, and the response was tremendous," she said. "They were so open to it and wanted to make a difference in these kids’ lives."

Jean Beck, a local real estate agent and Traditions resident, said Martin contacted her about the tour and asked if others would be interested in getting involved.

"They came to me with the idea if I would open my house for that Christmas tour, then other people might do so also," Beck said.

Beck said she also wanted to get involved because of the connection to Amanda House.

"It’s a heartfelt thing for me," she said. "This will be a home where they can stay. If they can cycle back into their homes or into a foster home, that’s good, but if they’re one of those children that nobody wants, they get lost in the system. This will be a permanent place for them to have a family."

Beck and her fellow residents aren’t the only ones getting involved.

Local businesses will have booths set up with Christmas items on sale, and 20 percent of the proceeds from their sales will be donated to Amanda House. Also, several local churches are donating their vans to drive people through the tour, and volunteers will be on hand to walk people through the houses and sell snacks.



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