New St. Augustine boys home nearly complete

St. Augustine Youth Services facility includes pool, basketball courts

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - At 11 years old, John Ramsey has been through a lot.

"I kept on going to new places because my family didn't treat me correctly," John said.

Moving around all the time, he says, was hard.

"Confusing, majorly confusing," John said.

In just a couple months, St. Augustine Youth Services should be opening its new facility, complete with pine trees, a swimming pool and basketball courts. It's a move John can't wait for -- 12 acres to run around, his own room, a place to play.

"I just love that. I like going swimming, basketball courts, and mostly, you know what Ms. Schuyler's going to do? Make us a fishing pole," John said.

The group home helps troubled boys who were abused or neglected get on a path for a brighter future.

"How to control your anger, how to calm yourself down, it made me very happy," John said.

The new home was supposed to be the boys' Christmas present, but someone broke into the facility in August and stole copper wiring, causing $10,000 in damage.

"Thankfully, no one else has stolen from us since then, so we are counting our blessings for that," said Schuyler Siefker, of St. Augustine Youth Services.

Now volunteers are back to business, delivering kitchen cabinets and sanding panels for the showers. The home will be much bigger, safer and able to house more boys.

"For them to be able to have a safe place to live and know that people are going to care for them and that they're going to be OK is a tremendous gift," Siefker said.

It's a gift the kids are so grateful for, a gift that will help lead them to a successful future.

"I feel like a very proud kid that someone actually cares about us," Antoine Howell said.

If you'd like to help plant the pine trees at the new facility, you can help out either this Saturday or next starting at 8:30 a.m. The facility is located next to the public library at State Road 206 and U.S. 1. Volunteers are asked to bring gloves, shovels and a bagged lunch.

St. Augustine Youth Services has raised more than $2 million in donations. The organization still needs another $600,000 to pay for the new facility.

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