Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes spoke to the Hinesville Rotary Club during its Tuesday meeting.
Sikes, who also announced his intention to become a club member, issued a plea to the Rotarians to help him promote the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association Youth Homes, which offers child care and support for at-risk youth who otherwise might end up in foster care or group homes.
“We’ve got a problem here in Liberty County. We’ve got a problem in the state of Georgia and across this nation,” Sikes said. “The problem is that 1 out of 13 of us is incarcerated in the prison system or under some sort of supervision by the state of Georgia.”
Sikes said he believes that efforts should be made to get more youth involved in Liberty County’s 476 churches.
“Dark and light don’t mix,” he said. “If we can get these young kids into our church services to hear the word of God, we can change lives.”
Sikes also played a video highlighting the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes, which he said was established in 1956. Sikes said that there are 150 kids enrolled in five youth home locations across the state.
According to its website, children ages 6-16 who are Georgia residents qualify for placement in the youth home. Children attend public schools and receive educational support as well as life-skills training at the youth home. Living quarters also are staffed with “house parents,” who act as guardians and life coaches to the children.
“I’m here today to ask you guys to help me come up with some sort of program, some sort of organization, some way to raise funds not only for the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, but give me some creative ideas so that we can get this message into the churches,” Sikes said.
In other business, club President Brigitte Shanken welcomed Madison Preston and James Varnum, co-presidents of the recently-reformed Interact Club at Liberty County High School.
The Hinesville Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. at the La Quinta Inn and Suites on East Oglethorpe Highway.