The Bright House, which provides specialized services to victims who have experienced sexual assault or child abuse, is now open in Renaissance Park at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville.
It officially opened its doors about three weeks ago, according to Program Director JoAnna Smith, who provided members of the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority an update Wednesday afternoon.
“We are a child advocacy and a sexual assault center,” Smith said. “We see children who have been victims of domestic violence and abuse, as well as adult victims of sexual assault.”
The Bright House has a variety of people specially trained to help such victims.
“At our center, we have advocates, counselors, nurses and nurse practitioners,” Smith said. “We do everything in-house, so the victim doesn’t have to go to the hospital. They don’t have to go elsewhere for counseling.”
Everything is provided for victims under one roof.
Smith presented a slide show to the CHSLRA members, allowing them to see the renovation stages of the old house, which has been completely transformed inside and outside.
The Bright House is named in memory of the late Fredric D. Bright, who served as district attorney of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit for many years.
Stephen A. Bradley, who currently serves as the district attorney of the eight-county circuit, said he thought the facility’s name was most appropriate.
Bradley said the naming of The Bright House after the longtime prosecutor who lived in Wilkinson County, was suggested to him by someone and he knew right away that it was the right thing to do.
“He dedicated a long, wonderful career to caring for victims, and that’s why it’s named after him,” Bradley said.
A grand opening ceremony, which will include Bright’s family and special guests, is being planned for sometime in the spring.
“This is our effort, and we’re super-proud of the way it’s turned out,” Bradley told The Union-Recorder on Friday afternoon. “I think it’s fair to say that we believe that this is going to be a dramatic step forward for the victims of crime. We’ve always had the highest of standards in the way we want our victims treated, particularly those who have been victims of personal crimes.”
Bradley said that’s why the partnership was formed with Southern Crescent.
“They know how to plan new facilities, and I think they have done a wonderful job of planning a facility here in Milledgeville that suits our needs and that is here to take care of victims in the way they need to,” Bradley said. “It’s going to really improve not just our treatment for victims, but also outcomes in cases. Lots and lots of research has shown that when you have a dedicated facility that you get better, cleaner, more predictable results. And that’s a great, added bonus for the community.”
The Bright House is a division of Southern Crescent Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center. It is nationally accredited by the National Children’s Alliance and state-accredited by Children’s Advocacy Centers of Georgia. The Southern Crescent Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center in Georgia is located in Hampton.
The mission of The Bright House is to provide a collaborative, coordinated community response to reduce the incidence of child maltreatment and sexual violence through prevention
“It is funded by CJCC (Criminal Justice Coordinating Council) and we chose to partner with Southern Crescent because they’ve done such a great job for so long,” Bradley said. “They’ve had 25 years of top-flight service. And they’re doing things in the way that are most beneficial for us, for our law enforcement officers, for our caring community, and for the people in our communities surrounding us.”
Currently, the focus is on helping victims in Baldwin County and counties that touch Baldwin County, Bradley said.
“That is their primary service area,” Bradley said. “They can bring a victim case or an investigative case to them. That’s the focus for them right now.”
Bradley was also complimentary of the job Smith is doing as program director at The Bright House.
“I think JoAnna is doing a super job, and she’s proven that it’s something dear to her heart,” Bradley said. “And we always like working with people who have a passion in their care for victims of crimes.”
A 24-hour crisis line is set up for victims of child abuse and those who have been sexually assaulted. The crisis line can be reached at 770-477-2177.