Community leaders march to save Girls Inc.’s Garrard Center - WRBL

Community leaders march to save Girls Inc.’s Garrard Center

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COLUMBUS, GA - A Girls Inc. community center is set to close in August, but some members of the Winterville community are rallying to keep it open.

In April, the organization announced the Garrard Center, which has been open for more than 40 years, would close because of budget cuts and the condition of the building.

Since then community leaders like Reverend Willie Phillips have tried to keep the center from closing. In an area with a lot crime, Phillips says having the Garrard Center gives parents the peace of mind that their children are being taken care of.

“When they get out of school they have a safe place to come and learn new skills,” said Phillips. “They have a place where someone really cares about them.”

The center has to raise at least $100,000 dollars by the end of July to save the facility.

If they’re unable to raise the money, about 100 girls that attend the Garrard Center would have to start going to the other two Girls. Inc. centers, but Phillips says many of the girls have no way of getting there.

“It'll be a danger, we might lose our girls,” said Phillips. “We don't want to lose our girls.”

It's a fight that's grown to the city-level, with Columbus leaders showing their support. Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, Sheriff John Darr, Marshal Greg Countryman, Councilor Bruce Huff, Representative Calvin Smyre, Representative Carolyn Hugley, State Senator Ed Harbison and Municipal Court Clerk Vivian Creighton Bishop all participated in the march Saturday morning.

“To have our city and state officials out here, it speaks a lot,” said Phillips. “It lets us know that they are with us, they support us and they are giving to the cause of this community.”

Girls Inc. officials say they're still a long way from their goal. If you're interested in giving to help save the Garrard Center, you can give online at or send a check to PO Box 3096 Columbus, GA 31903 with the memo line saying "Save the Garrard Center."

David Hurst

David Hurst, a graduate of the Univ. of Georgia, focuses on how your tax dollars are being spent.

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