On Tuesday, June 1, 2021, Dhelynn McClellan (Operations Manager) spoke to the membership of the Magnolia Rotary Club about the Treehouse Center for Girls. Pictured above from left to right are Kelly McDonald, President Elect of the Magnolia Rotary Club and Dhelynn McClellan.
Dhelynn told everyone that the Treehouse Center for Girls is a 501 C3 non-profit that since 2009 has accepted girls, from families and governmental agencies that are in crisis situations and provide a wide variety of diagnostic and treatment services.  The Treehouse Center accepts referrals for girls ranging in age from 5 to 14, and acceptance of an applicant is based on an assessment by the multi-disciplinary team. Placement decisions are made following an assessment of the child’s psychological evaluation, social history, medical history and any other relevant information.  Generally, they provide services to children whose behavior or emotional problems require a highly structured environment with close supervision and a great amount of consistency in disciplinary strategies.
Dhelynn told everyone that because their girls have suffered some of the most abusive treatment, they do everything on a schedule including the 4 times a week that the girls meet for individual therapy with trained professional licensed counselors that use individual, family and group therapy to help the girls. They also go to public schools in the area and are required to do their school homework as required by the school. Many of these girls have adjustment issues in school and most of the time they are not enrolled in normal classes until they are ready to be around the general student population.
Dhelynn told everyone that most of the girls come to them with all of their worldly possessions in a black trash bag. Some of them do not even own a pair of shoes when they first get to the center. The girls earn at least one "Star Buck" a day but are encouraged to earn more. These "Star Bucks" are used at the centers store to purchase items that the girls themselves have said they need (in addition to what they are given by the school). This provides a reward system for the girls and teaches them to work for things they want.
Dhelynn told everyone that it can be emotionally exhausting (but very rewarding) working with these girls and that the staff works hard to provide the safe and loving environment that helps the girls to heal. The center is designed to get the girls into either good foster homes or permanently adopted by good families. The staff at the center work very hard to make sure no girl is placed into a home where they will be mistreated in any way. Some girls are able to get a good home within 6 months but most take a year or two. However, the center had one girl take 4 years because she did not want to leave the center.
For an example, Dhelynn spoke about one 8 year old girl who was abused in many ways by her father (the father is now in prison). As a result, the girl had many social problems and got into fights both with other students and teachers/administrators. She even cracked the skull of the principal at her school and had to be restrained by four policemen. However, after intensive therapy over a two year time frame, that same girl was able to make all A's in the same school and was even given an award by the same principle she had cracked the skull of. That is why Dhelynn states that the center never gives up on one of their girls. Dhelynn also spoke about one adoption family that flew from New Jersey every weekend for 6 weeks before the girl finally was taken to her new home.
Dhelynn then spoke about the fact that most of their funding comes from individual and corporate donors. The center also gets donations of clothing and personal items from individuals.
When asked how many girls they can house, Dhelynn told everyone that they can currently handle only 25 girls but are hoping to double that to 50 girls in the not to distant future. The center's staff currently has 21-22 staff members that work in 8-12 hour shifts. Dhelynn's main job (besides loving and caring for the girls) is working to get sponsors and clothing and other personal item donations for the girls. Dhelynn also works hard to get the word out about their center.
For more information about the center or to donate, go to www.thetreehousecenter.org.