Two Columbus residents who had individual faith-based solutions for children in crisis and the community that helped bring those solutions to life were honored Thursday with the first Community Vision Awards.
Glenn Davis, who founded Carpenter’s Way Ranch in the late 1980s, and Becky Rumer, who led Columbus for Kids Inc. in 2002, were honored individually. The city of Columbus was recognized for its community-wide support of the efforts.
The award is a tribute to the legacy of The Methodist Home, which now operates the facilities and continues the missions of the programs seeded by Davis and Columbus for Kids.
It was known that the city was getting the award, but Rumer and Davis were surprised by the honor.
“Columbus is a city of dreamers who cast a vision of something better,” Rumer said before she realized she was a recipient. “We take care of the children on these two campuses who would not otherwise know where they are going to lay down their head tonight or tomorrow night.”
Rumer, who has adopted two foster children along with her husband, Superior Court Judge William C. Rumer, helped organize Columbus for Kids to open an emergency shelter for foster children. Because of a lack of foster families, children often slept in the Division for Family and Children Services office. That vision became Our House, which brought together 26 organizations to help care for children.
Rumer was one of the proponents for giving the first award to the entire city.
“There are far more people involved in this than me,” she said. “I meant what I said when I said this was a community effort. I guess somebody has to be the face of it.”
Davis, a Columbus councilor, started Carpenter’s Way when he was a Major League Baseball player. His goal was to help kids in the same way he had been helped when he was a teenager.
“I have always looked at myself as a part of a team,” Davis said. “What I did was plant a seed.”
Carpenter’s Way has grown to helping troubled girls, as well as boys. Arabella is the girls home attached to the ranch in southern Harris County.
Our House opened as a part of the Methodist Home. Carpenter’s Way was struggling to meet its mission when the economic downturn started five years. That, along with changes in state policy regarding placement of foster children, made a merger with Our House attractive.
“We had to realize that all of us taking care of abused and abandoned children had to put our hands together,” Davis said.
And the job is getting more difficult, he said.
“Used to, we could help one, and might lose one,” Davis said. “Now, we help one, and we might lose 10.”
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who accepted on behalf of the city and announced the selection of Davis and Rumer for the awards, said it was an appropriate choice.
Tomlinson shared she described Columbus to author and motivational speaker Gail McWilliams, who gave the keynote address.
“I told her there is no apathy in Columbus, Ga.,” the mayor said. “We are all in, all the time.”