By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Angel Ranch, a Lafayette County home for abused children, has closed.
The charity announced in June that it was no longer accepting abused children, and its license was not renewed after its Aug. 13 expiration date. Its website says its property is being advertised for sale.
The Angel Ranch house in the Pine Flat community was damaged by an April tornado, and the charity soon was distributing its furnishings to neighbors who had also suffered losses.
Angel Ranch started fundraising in 2004 and opened in 2006 as an emergency-placement shelter for younger children who had been removed by the Mississippi Department of Human Services from abusive or neglectful living situations. Its residents would typically stay from a few days to a few weeks until DHS personnel could arrange longer-term foster care in a family setting.
Angel Ranch prepared to change directions early this year. After several months without having any children on site, Executive Director Sue Turner and the nonprofit’s directors decided for the shelter to serve as a long-term home specifically for girls from ages 14 to 22.
“We wanted to have a greater impact on their lives – more of a positive impact, rather than the short-term intervention of being a shelter,” Turner said in March.
The state issued a license to house up to six girls, and supporters had anticipated a promising new purpose, but the success of that effort was less than expected.
According to the website, Angel Ranch served 107 children from 28 Mississippi counties during its nearly five years in operation.
“We feel that our greatest accomplishment was caring for 15 siblings groups so they were not separated and 13 children who stayed for multiple visits,” the website states.
Fundraising had been an ongoing challenge for Angel Ranch throughout its life. According to the Secretary of State’s Office, the 501(c)3 took in $254,542 last year, with $218,374 in expenses. No report was posted on the Secretary of State’s Office for 2009, but both 2008 and 2007 show deficits of roughly $25,000.
Efforts to reach Turner and board members for comment on Thursday were not successful.