On any given day, more than 180 children with significant psychiatric, behavioral, and emotional illnesses are cared for and prepared for a future of health and hope through educational, therapeutic, and vocational programs at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Georgia. Devereux was founded in 1912 and today is a national nonprofit partner for individuals, families, schools, and communities, serving many of the most vulnerable members of our society in areas of autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, specialty mental health, and child welfare. Established in Kennesaw, Georgia in 1973 at the invitation of Governor Jimmy Carter, Devereux Georgia has housed, helped, and healed thousands of children with nowhere else to go for help.

Covid-19 has caused modifications of Devereux’s daily operations such as their school program. Due to the pandemic, the children currently at Devereux Georgia are not able to leave the campus and visitation from family members is limited, court hearings have been delayed as well as some scheduled discharges. 

The members of the East Cobb Civitan Club wanted to support these vulnerable children during this difficult time, so they began a campaign to collect games, toys, puzzles, craft supplies, videos and books from its membership and their neighbors to share with them. The response was heartwarming, with over 300 items donated in a week and delivered this weekend.  Since then, even more items have been donated for a future delivery.

“I started volunteering this past year at Devereux, helping wrap Christmas presents donated for the kids and earlier, working at their Fall Festival,” said Carolyn Polakowski, East Cobb Civitan Club’s current President. “These kids stole my heart. They are here because there are literally no other options for the highly specialized residential therapy and care across the region for them that provides the opportunity for healing and recovery. Sadly, mental illness still has a negative stigma attached to it and I try to do my part in advocating for the kids—they deserve the same love and compassion that all children with an invasive medical diagnosis should receive. Games, books and crafts may be a small thing, but we are happy to know we can contribute to their having positive activities with some new boredom busters during shelter in place.”

Project Coordinator Dolly Fehd, who has been at Devereux Georgia for 10 years, expressed the appreciation of the staff at the psychiatric residential treatment center for children and youth. “The kids are just blown away when strangers take the time to show that they are thought of and cared about,” Fehd stated. “We appreciate that the Civitan Club reached out to us first to ask what we needed most and what were the appropriate types of toys and games kids in treatment could safely use.”

Civitan International is a global organization impacting lives at the grass roots level through local service clubs. Members of Civitan share a Servant’s Heart and a desire to create positive change for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.  There are currently 40 clubs in the Georgia District, including Camp Big Heart, a service club dedicated to providing inclusive overnight camping for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities.  The East Cobb Civitan Club was founded in 1986 and is dedicated to multiple service and educational programs in the local community.

Interested new members are always welcome. For more information about Civitans International or the East Cobb Civitan Club please contact Lee Ann Sherry, President-Elect at 770.815.5299 or leann@thego2team.com.

EAST COBBER wants to honor those who are everyday heroes in this coronavirus outbreak. Help us recognize the people in East Cobb who are helping others during this unprecedented time. We want to recognize those of you who are out there on the front lines of this epidemic, and the people and businesses who are working to help others. Share your stories.

Please send your story about the good deeds our neighbors are doing to help out their community (and be sure to attach a photo) to cynthia@eastcobber.com. Use Hometown COVID Heroes as your subject line and be sure to give us a caption for the photo. Thank you!