Girls Inc. Garrard Center closes doors for good

Garrard Center for Girls Inc closes doors for good

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Gerrard Center for Girls, Inc in Columbus has closed their doors for good.

This comes just months after the community rallied behind the popular girls club to keep it from going under.

News Leader 9's Tyrone McCoy joins us now in the studio with what's next for the hundreds of girls who attend.

Executive Director Dorothy Hyatt says the community raised around $25,000, but it just wasn't enough. More than 100 girls will now be bused to the Baker Center near by. It's a decision that those who gave their support to the center call truly unfortunate.

Michael Soul, Program Director for Davis Broadcasting says "I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed."

That's how Soul describes the closed doors and locked gates at the Garrard Center. Soul spearheaded a radiothon to raise awareness about the sinking girls club and to garner support so that the center could continue empowering young girls to be strong, smart and bold.

It's a mission he says he knows of personally.

"'I've got daughters as well, and they've benefited from Girls, Inc,' adds Soul. "Still the program is very worth while."

Girls Inc executive director Dorothy Hyatt wants to remind the community that the Gerrard Center is one of the three centers in the area and the other two are thriving and will to continue the work of the organization. She assures the closing will help more than it will hurt.

"We felt like this would be the right thing to do for the organization Girls Incorporated of Columbus so parents would have a choice of taking their girls to an all girl environment," Hyatt said.

And while Hyatt ensures each girl displaced by the Garrard Center closing will have a spot a another facility -- Soul says having to close the south Columbus location means more than just a change in hang out spots after school.

Soul adds "It just says that we need more love, more unity in our community when you think about our girls."

Thursday was the first day girls from the Garrard Center shared a new permanent space with the Baker Center. Staff members have been added to accommodate van routes as well as the overflow of students. Hyatt says she expects around 280 girls total at the Baker Center.

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