Thomasville resident hopes to transform former state hospital

Thomasville resident hopes to transform former state hospital

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - One woman in Thomasville wants to take a former state hospital and turn it into something to help people in the area.

“My vision for this is to take this place that was always dedicated to the public good, and to keep it that way.”

Thomasville resident and mother of a special needs child, Jacqui Knight, said she’s doing this for her son Gabriel.

She’s calling the program “Gabriel Rising."

Jacqui and Gabriel Knight
Jacqui and Gabriel Knight (Source: WALB)

”I worry about what happens to him if something happens to me. What is his quality of life going to be?"

Knight said she wants to take the 400,000 square feet of usable property on South Pinetree Boulevard and mold it into a nonprofit giving people with special needs an opportunity.

Southwestern State Hospital closed down in 2013.

Thomasville resident has hopes for former state hospital
Thomasville resident has hopes for former state hospital (Source: WALB)

She said she wants her son and so many others to have the advantages of working on their own and socializing, among many other things.

“If we can come together as a group of organizations and turn this place into a live, work, earn facility where special needs people who have capabilities and are able to do simple tasks.”

Knight wants the residents to have the ability to work within the community and on the property.

One of the ideas she has is to add a mini-farm on the property, teaching residents on the property to run it themselves.

“So, we’re teaching them how to grow things and then we teach them how to take the things that we grow such as lavender and florals, and make a product. And then I also want to do a farmer’s market.”

Knight said while these are businesses for residents to work in, the farmer’s market can also serve the entire region.

She said she’s committed to helping anyone she can in this region and country, have an opportunity to improve their quality of life.

“I gain nothing but a place for my son to be when he’s 22 years old and ages out of school. Instead of disappearing into a room, that he has a quality of life. I think that everybody’s child deserves that. Every special needs person in this country deserves that.”

We’ll be sure to keep you updated on any new information with this project.

Copyright 2020 WALB. All rights reserved.