Colquitt County incident spurred woman to start adult daycare | Local News

MOULTRIE, Ga. — A call as deputy coroner several years ago changed the direction of Deborah Howard’s life.

Born in Mitchell County, Howard grew up in Hartsfield and Moultrie and graduated from Colquitt County High School. She worked as a hairstylist, then became EMT certified. She was training as a paramedic when she accepted the position of deputy coroner, where she worked under Willie J. Williams and Rodney Bryant.

On this particular occasion, she was called to Upper Meigs Road. An elderly man had clearly been dead for days. Next to him sat his son, a man in his late fifties or early sixties.

The son had an intellectual disability. He could understand the words addressed to him, Howard said, but he didn’t have the language to respond. Howard had paramedics check it out; he turned out to be severely dehydrated and, from his assessment of the scene, he apparently hadn’t eaten in days – even though there was food and water in the house.

Howard told this story to tell how his interest shifted from emergency medicine to social services. She wanted to teach life skills – how to make a sandwich, how to call 911 in an emergency – to people with developmental disabilities.

It took years, but that incident sparked what is now LOL – Life of Liberty – Adult Day Care.

Howard and her husband, Keith Howard, moved to California in 2000. However, they did not sell their home in Moultrie as they intended to visit his mother every year. Unfortunately, the death of her mother in 2012 put an end to these visits. Howard said she rarely had a genuine desire to visit after her mother’s death – it wasn’t until 2019 that Howard would visit more frequently to lead the LOL’s second location – Life of Liberty – Day Program for adults.

Although the initial launch of the LOL – Life of Liberty adult day program took place in Oceanside, California in 2008, Howard had acquired at least three years of experience in the field of social work, as well as a bachelor’s degree. and a master’s degree in criminal justice. After several years running the Oceanside site, Howard sought to expand his program to Georgia.

Howard said Savannah was his ideal placement for Life of Liberty’s second location. This area was not working, however, and his broker found the building they needed in Moultrie. Although not the first choice, Howard decided Moultrie was the place for the second location – the place of his roots and family.

Committed to helping adults with developmental disabilities live lives of independence and fulfillment, Howard modeled the LOL-Life of Liberty Adult Day Program to focus on teaching these adults the essential skills what they would need.

The program exposes its participants to the community and teaches them through different activities and classes that they can participate in during the day. Additionally, the program is tailored to each participant so everyone learns things that interest them, according to Howard in a video on the LOL—Life of Liberty—Adult Day Program website.

Howard credits much of her success in California to her successes and failures in Moultrie, and recalled experiences she had while living in Moultrie that changed the course of her life. Howard cherishes those experiences she had at Moultrie and thanks God for orchestrating and directing her life.

Howard remembers one experience in particular. She had an encouraging conversation with Randy Kelley, a local banker who had entered her then bankrupt business.

One day Kelley visited the business, which was located here in Moultrie. He told Howard that he admired her tenacity and that she should never stop trying – one day she would succeed. Howard recalled other advice he gave her and how she stuck to it. She said she went into her future endeavors with a better knowledge and understanding of how she should conduct her business, and wished Kelley could see her current portfolio.

Howard currently owns four properties in Colquitt County and co-owns one property in California. She mentions in her profile that she is proud to contribute to the growth of Moultrie by purchasing real estate, providing employment and providing quality services to people with developmental disabilities.

While Howard explained that there are some things you just have to leave the house to find, she maintains that despite living in California for as long as she has in Moultrie, her roots will always be in the South.

Howard hopes his story will help many people understand that there is nothing wrong with being from a small town. She said she might live in a big city, but she was still a Southern girl.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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