0722 Girls Ranch Golf1.jpg

Submitted / The Outlook Lake Martin Realty hosted its inaugural golf tournament to benefit the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Girls Ranch.

Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Girls Ranch received more than $12,000 from the inaugural Lake Martin Realty Charity Invitational in June, which will help fund the unfinished property on site to be converted into a college dorm.

Eighteen teams showed out to support the cause at StillWaters Golf Course with sponsors from River Bank & Trust, Lake Martin Dock Company and Lakeside Marina along with 20 hole sponsors.

“StillWaters was a fantastic host; it was a great venue,” girls ranch director Candice Gulley said. “We had a lot of support from (golf pro Rob) Gabby (Witherington) out there. As a first-time event, we were relying on the experience to help be able to organize this.”

Lake Martin Realty wanted to host a charity golf tournament and chose the girls ranch as its benefactor after speaking to several nonprofits in the area.

“They were looking at different organizations and asked me to speak with the group, share our mission and talk about the girls we serve,” Gulley said. “They were all excited to make sure the funds from the event went directly back into the community.”

The four-person scramble included prizes for hole-in-one winners, closet to the hole and other chances to win. Some of the winning teams contributed back their earnings to the Girls Ranch to add to the cause.

“One of the great things that comes out of an event like this is the exposure for our ranch and our mission,” Gulley said. “Someone in the audience was so moved by the testimony of one of our girls who shared her story they wrote us a check for $5,000. It wasn’t even for the tournament, they just wanted to help out.”

Gulley said while the ranch has been around for a while there are still people who are not aware of the organization and what it does.

“When we do things like this in the community we are able to reach out to people that haven’t heard about what we’re doing right here in our backyard especially during this time when funding is low for nonprofits across the nation,” Gulley said. 

The girls ranch takes in abused, neglected and abandoned girls and provides safe and loving homes for them. Once graduating from Reeltown, some girls go on to Southern Union College but still live at the ranch. The money earned from the tournament will help build a college-style dorm for those college-aged students.

“We can now start the process for electricity, wiring and be able to start some plumbing in the house,” Gulley said. “This will help with some foundational things to make that project a reality.”

The response for this first-year event was so positive Lake Martin Realty announced it will host its tournament again next year to benefit the girls ranch again.

Amy Passaretti is a staff writer with the Alexander City Outlook.