LOCAL SUCCESS STORY TO BE FEATURED IN AD CAMPAIGN, RETURN FOR CELEBRATION OF YOUTH HOME THAT GAVE HIM A SECOND CHANCE
Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Ga., Welcoming Back Graduates for its 60th Anniversary.
(NASHVILLE, Tenn./HOPKINSVILLE, Ky.) As a teenager, Rhett Rhemann of Clarksville, Tenn., never expected to be honored as a “Gold Medalist for Life.” Today, reflecting on one of the most trying times in his life fuels him to be a better man for his family. Rhemann lives a happy and relatively peaceful life. It could have been the exact opposite of what he is experiencing now if not for Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH), a Christian residential program and on-campus school for young men between the ages of 16 and 21 struggling with behavioral problems and issues of discipline, anger and depression.
Paul Anderson, who was declared “the strongest man in the world” after the 1956 Melbourne Olympic games, was a gold medal winner and weightlifting legend. To this day, no one has exceeded or even matched his feat of lifting 6,270 lb. in a back lift. Anderson used his fame to promote youth physical fitness and his devotion to Jesus Christ. While touring the country as a goodwill ambassador, he developed a desire to help young people mired in bad behavior and poor choices which were throwing their lives away. Along with his wife Glenda, who still maintains quite a presence at the Home, the Paul Anderson Youth Home was founded in 1961.
PAYH celebrates its 60th Anniversary this year with a specific goal in mind. The organization will be reaching out across the country to let parents and advocates know there is a place to find an alternative to jail for troubled young men and boys who need a second chance.
Rhemann is one of six distinguished alumni recognized by the youth home as true success stories, living productive and positive lives and named “Gold Medalists for Life.”
In tandem with the 60th Anniversary and the award, an awareness campaign encompassing print and digital channels will focus on stories like his, targeting prosecutors, law enforcement, legal aid, social services, parent groups, churches and other organizations who could intervene and keep a troubled boy or young man from prison and put them on track to change their lives.
“I was kicked out of school in 10th grade and becoming unmanageable. Then, after some run-ins with the police, I ended up at Paul Anderson Youth Home,” Rhemann said. “The men there showed me who I could be and how to love myself.”
Typical of most young men at PAYH, Rhemann went through an adjustment period before his rebellious streak waned. Through Bible lessons, schoolwork and additional chores and responsibilities, Rhemann finally came around. What struck him was the unrelenting efforts of the staff.
“No matter how much of a pain in the butt I was, they still loved me. I learned a lot about how a Christian man should live,” he added.
Upon graduating from Paul Anderson Youth Home, Rhemann had to adjust once again. He made his share of mistakes but eventually landed a lucrative position as an army contractor. Determined to follow the example set for him, including a desire to serve, he joined the fire department. Responding to calls and helping people felt good, but the need to do more resulted in him working toward an EMT license. The work and the training had him going non-stop. He was serving his community but felt another calling of responsibility.
“I had to make a choice,” he says.
Working the hours he was, Rhemann felt he was missing too much of his son’s lives. He changed his job to a logistics position that allowed service, fatherhood, and the opportunity to be a more significant part of his sons’ lives and help them avoid the mistakes he made.
The PAYH mission has remained the same, as has the need for alternatives to prison. “Rather than facing a life of crime, jail time, and poor adjustment, young people need continued support and counseling like the kind that our Home has provided for decades, said Glenda Anderson. “Our boys who have completed the program are the living example of how the ministry turns lives around and helps make respectful men who are an asset to their communities.”
“The boy who comes here comes out a different man,” he added.
ABOUT PAUL ANDERSON YOUTH HOME
Founded in 1961 by weightlifting world champion and Olympic gold medalist Paul Anderson and his wife, Glenda, the Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH) is a Christian residential program and on-campus school for young men between the ages of 16 and 21 struggling with behavioral problems and issues of discipline, anger and depression. PAYH is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). In addition to counseling and character development, PAYH offers an accelerated learning program enabling residents to graduate with a high school diploma and technical certifications. To date, over 1,400 young men have attended the program. The Home is located at 1603 McIntosh St. in Vidalia, Ga. To learn more about PAYH, call (912) 537-7237 or visit www.payh.org.