MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — The tragedy of COVID-19 turned into a blessing for the kids of Baldwin County.
Last year, we talked to nurse Arlene Simmons who spent two months in New York City fighting the coronavirus.
Thursday, we went to Milledgeville to hear Simmons' plans to help kids in her hometown.
A Milledgeville native, Simmons has always loved children.
She has three of her own and she'd do anything for them.
"Who I am is just who I am," said Simmons. "I go to where I am needed."
However, she's also a nurse of 20 years, so she'd also do anything to help others.
In March of 2020, Simmons went to New York City to help during the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
"After seeing what I saw, it brought me to a whole new perspective, a whole new mindset," said Simmons, so she brainstormed ways to use her earnings from New York to help kids in Baldwin County.
"So many children are being left behind," said Simmons.
With no business loans or debt, she bought a 6,000 square foot building and started a youth development center.
She's planned a 6-week job readiness program for 16- to 24-year-olds.
Simmons said, "I'm excited about getting them out of the streets and keeping them busy! We're doing everything from interpersonal skills, all the soft skills, identifying their traits, resume writings, self-defense classes, cooking classes, and more."
She also launched a foster care orientation program for adults, and she stocked playrooms for children for before and after-school help.
Jessica McCormick, a mom of seven, is thankful.
McCormick said, "She does a lot out of her pocket, and the best thing about Arlene is she doesn't want any recognition for it!"
"By the God's grace, and by the money that I earned in New York City, this is where I put it," said Simmons, "So I am excited!"
Simmons plans a ribbon cutting on July 24.
There will be a job fair at 12 p.m., on the 24th, too.
They are looking for pre-K teachers and a kitchen manager.
Pre-K, before- and after-school program starts in the fall, September.
The job readiness program starts August 1.
The foster care orientation classes also start August 1.
Both the job readiness program and foster care orientation classes are once a month, on the weekends.
Baldwin County Youth Services is located at 127 Blandy Road, Milledgeville, Georgia 31061.