Doll’s House reaches deal over location

Published 8:00 pm Friday, October 19, 2012

Doll’s House has finally found a home after months of searching.

     Johnny Turner of Doll’s House said Wednesday that the non-profit women’s ministries organization will move into the Martha Sykes Senior Citizens Center on Highway 51 north over the next month.

     Doll’s House management came to an agreement with the overseers of the property for a no-cost lease for their women’s ministry. Current operations of the facility will continue, such as cooking and bringing hot meals to senior citizens.

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     Turner said the property was deeded to the county in 1987, with management in the hands of the Rev. A.C. Herring.

     “We’ll be able to use it as long as we’re conducting a ministry there,” said Turner.

     Turner said the property has always been about helping people, and was originally formed as a women’s shelter and orphanage in 1915. It then evolved into a senior center and now serves meals to 69 seniors twice a week.

     Over the past few months, Doll’s House has attempted to acquire two other properties, with both of them eventually falling through. The most recent was an attempt to purchase the former Serenity House on North Church Street, but the city did not grant an exemption to the zoning laws Doll’s House would have needed to move there.

     “On the same day we found we would not be able to move into the Serenity House we began looking into the Martha Sykes Senior Citizen Center,” said Turner. “It really worked out well for us.”

     In addition to women’s ministries that aim to help women recently released from prison or divorced get back into society, Turner said Doll’s House will get involved with the meals that are served to the seniors.

     “We’ll come in and enhance that service,” he said. “We want to expand it to five days a week and reach more people that need hot meals.”

     Doll’s house will have access to the 33.49-acre property, which is located on both sides of Highway 51.

     “We want to introduce ranch style living,” said Turner. “That will include cottages, poultry and livestock. We’ll introduce the women to agribusiness that will help finance Doll’s House.”

     Preparing of the location will begin within the next week and Turner expects to have six women living there by the end of the year. Then, by the end of 2013, the plan is to expand and have between 18-20 women on the property.

     Turner described the “cottages,” as being “similar to Federal Emergency management Agency (FEMA) trailers” that they plan to bring to the property for the women to live in.

     “That way they can learn to live on their own again and run their own home,” he said.

     The fundraiser Doll’s House has been sponsoring to start off their ministries is ongoing. The drawing for a new Toyota Yaris, as well as cash prizes, is Saturday at 4 p.m. at Legacy Toyota.

     Turner said the $20,000 raised so far has not been quite as much as they would have liked, but other benefits have arisen out of the process.

     “The fundraiser has done great as far as spreading information, “he said. “Ticket sales have not yet met our goal, as we were expecting between $60,000 and $80,000.”

     Turner said it will take around $192,000 a year to operate the facility. Donations can be made to Doll’s House at P.O. Box 3172, Brookhaven, MS 39603.

     “Hopefully Doll’s House could eventually cover 60-70 percent of the money needed to fund the operation,” he said. “We’re looking to churches and community-minded individuals to come forward and adopt a lady or make a donation.”