New ranch has long been a vision of Christian home’s founder
By Jeff Gill, Gainesville Times
October 25, 2009
FLOWERY BRANCH — One of Eagle Ranch’s newest buildings started as a drawing on the back of a napkin.
Eddie Staub, founder and executive director of the Christian-based children’s home, sketched it out while reflecting on what he saw as the missing piece to the 270-acre South Hall center.
“We didn’t have it on a plan or anything,” said Staub of the Wink Wynne Lodge. “We really needed a gathering place for our ranch family.”
He took the drawing to his architect, Lamar Wakefield, and “he took that napkin and developed this,” said Staub, looking at the rustic structure sitting among tall trees and overlooking Lake Hosch.
Eagle Ranch, which describes itself as a home for “children in crisis,” plans to show off the new building as part of its annual Fall Open House, set for 2-5 p.m. Nov. 1.
Visitors also can check out two new girls’ homes, the Blessing and Mercy Homes, and an expansion to the Eagle Ranch School. They also can visit other buildings on the property, including other children’s homes, athletic facilities, the administration/counseling center and chapel.
During their tour, visitors will get a chance to meet and mingle with ranch staff and children.
Children and house parents who live in the ranch homes will give tours and offer refreshments.
“We’d love for people to come and find out what we’re all about,” said Stephanie Long, Eagle Ranch spokeswoman.
Eagle Ranch, which celebrates its 25th anniversary on April 13, focuses on restoring families, officials have said.
Children receive counseling and education at the center. Through its “Wings Initiative,” the center also works to equip others developing homes for children in need.
“A lot of people have no idea that we’re out here or … how much the ranch has changed,” Long said.
Currently, Eagle Ranch serves 42 boys living in six homes and 12 girls in two homes. After renovation is completed on two other homes in June, the center expects to be able to serve 24 girls in four homes.
While renovation is ongoing, the girls are living in the new homes.
“One reason we built the lodge is it’s going to be a central gathering place for the boys and girls, and the addition of the two homes necessitated something where we could all come together,” Staub said.
“We’ll have meals together and special gatherings of our ranch family, and then also (the lodge) gives us a venue where we can bring folks in from the outside.”
The lodge also features two apartments for interns.
“That’s a big gap for us,” Staub said. “We were having to put these people all over the ranch.”
Construction of the building was underwritten by the Robert Wynne family in memory of their son, Charles Wilson “Wink” Wynne, who died at age 20 in a four-wheeler accident in 2006.
Eagle Ranch has a policy of not adding new buildings without having funding secured.
The new school addition, which involved completing the unfinished basement by adding classrooms and an assembly area, opened this school year.