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Founder of ‘Gabriel Rising’ to start advocacy group for special needs children

Updated: Dec. 18, 2020 at 5:07 PM EST
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THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - One woman in Thomasville is hoping to turn the former Southwestern State Hospital into a place that benefits families in Southwest Georgia.

Families with special needs members now have an advocacy group in Thomasville.

Jacqui Knight is moving forward with big plans big for an empty property in the city.

She and another investor have come to a decision on dividing up the property at Southwestern State Hospital.

“We’ve sent the package up to the governor’s office, so really, we’re waiting until after the governor and state properties division makes a decision,” said Knight.

Knight plans to mold some of the property into a nonprofit giving people with special needs an opportunity.

Jacqui Knight, Founder of "Gabriel Rising"
Jacqui Knight, Founder of "Gabriel Rising"(Source: WALB)

While she waits on the decision from Atlanta, Knight is creating a new group.

“It happens to be a resource and support group for special needs children. We’ll be an advocacy group for special needs both at the state and within the school system as well as being able to help connect together resources,” said Knight.

Group meetings start after the first of the year.

They’ll be at The Hub Church off Clay Street.

Knight says this project is personal for her. She’s doing it for her son Gabriel, who has special needs.

The support she’s seen from Thomasville has been incredibly supportive.

Knight calls the project a perfect marriage of her program and the city’s generosity.

In the future, she hopes it continues to grow to include universities and colleges, the American Red Cross and United Way.

“The future that I want to make certain is the future for special needs adults and teenagers. I am committed to the population, committed to making this work, and committed to Region 4, Thomas County, Thomasville in particular,” said Knight.

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