- Associated Press - Saturday, October 4, 2014

WINCHESTER, Ky. (AP) - Even after the house almost caught fire and nearly exploded from busted gas pipes, Judy Singleton knows it’s still standing for a reason.

Singleton was a kindergarten teacher for 35 years, spending the majority of her career at Hannah McClure Elementary before retiring in 2011. Though her time was consumed with teaching little ones to read and write, she had a dream to start a foster children’s home at her childhood homestead.

The farm was purchased by her parents in the 1940s, and after her father died in 2010, Singleton inherited the 130-acre home in eastern Clark County.

“I had this dream before then, but it couldn’t happen while teaching,” she said. “My hope is that with God’s help, I will make this a foster home for children.”

She said as a teacher, she saw the need for siblings to stay together when they were taken from their homes, which is something she aims to do when her foster home, called Solid Rock Children’s Ranch, becomes a reality.

“Sometimes losing siblings can be harder than losing parents when they go to prison,” she said.

She also hopes for the home to serve as long-term care for foster children so they do not have to be placed in several different homes while in the foster care system. If the child reaches 18, they could still stay at the home while in school or until they get on their feet.

At first, she thought about turning the home into a center for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. She went in the direction she knew best - kids.

“I could make an impact on them,” she said. “I’ve seen what drugs and alcohol do to families.”

With the idea of a home for foster children solidified, she is currently searching for the funds to make the home come to life. She has chosen not to receive government funding as she wants the home to be Christian-based.

She plans to hold Bible study and church, tutoring, and have animals roaming the grounds.

“Animals are therapeutic. I hope to have goats or horses, and I have my cats,” she said. “We have 130 acres here. I want (the kids) to be able to run and play, and to have someplace quiet and peaceful.”

The upstairs of the house will serve as storage and will have guestrooms. Singleton will have an office downstairs that can be used for counseling, doing homework or talking with parents.

“I think that’s important,” she said of the children seeing their parents at the home. “They need to keep a connection.”

Singleton once won a national award for Teacher of the Year and wrote many grants for the arts while teaching at Hannah McClure. Drawing from her work experience, she plans to give each child a responsibility on the farm to teach them a good work ethic. She said many children grow up without it.

She currently has four board members for the home and is searching for two more. She needs someone with political ties and expressed a desire to find someone famous to provide funding the way country and southern rock musician Charlie Daniels provides primary funding for the Galilean Children’s Home. She is also in need of an attorney to work pro bono to aid with the establishment of a non-profit status, volunteers and funds to purchase kitchen appliances and for further renovations.

“(People) have been referring to this as The Big House. It’s such a blessing,” she said. “A lot of things need to be done. I want this to make a difference in the lives of children and families of Clark County.”


Information from: The Winchester (Ky.) Sun, https://www.centralkynews.com/winchestersun

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