GREEN GROVE SPRINGS, Fla. - The new homes at Seamark Ranch will now be ready to help more at-risk children who have come from broken homes.
Natalie Stembridge is in 11th grade. For the last three years, she has been staying at the Seamark Ranch in Green Cove Springs.
It’s a local non-profit that provides school to help students learn and improve their grades while getting to chance to ride horses and work on a farm.
“I was able to work the agricultural barn and learn how to farm and harvest stuff,” said Stembridge.
On Thursday she was helping direct traffic as the ranch welcomes in two new homes for boys and girls from at-risk families.
Some of the children that come out to the ranch are from foster care or placed here through DCF or through their own families.
Before coming to Seamark Ranch… her parents had almost given up on her because of her behavior.
“I used to be a really angry person and I wasn’t respectful, I always ran away,” said Stembridge.
But Seamark helped her find her way and they gave her a place to live with house parents like Nancy and Nancy’s husband Lamar Grimes.
Nancy Grimes tells Action News Jax she’s watched Natalie transform throughout the years.
“She has just taken our heart so we just love having her here and have enjoyed seeing the progress that she has made since we’ve been in the home,” said Grimes.
Inside each of these homes is a living room, a kitchen and bedrooms for all of the kids.
The non-profit will now have 4 homes for around 32 of their students.
Next year they hope to help 50 students if they have the money.
Staff members tell us it cost around $150,000 a year to run one of these houses.
The ranch tells us their goal is to eventually have 12 houses, 6 for boys and 6 for girls that can become a safe place for kids to grow up and learn.
And Natalie, Seamark has also become a place helping her with her future and she tells us one day she aspires to work criminal investigations with the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office.
“I actually went and did a ride along and learned a little more about the field with one of the founders of Seamark,” she said.
Seamark is a privately funded non-profit. They rely on the community, fundraisers, and donors.
Since opening their doors they’ve helped more than 100 children with housing, on-campus schooling, and childcare programs.
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