About Us

A Place for Me

At the Open Arms Home for Children, we believe that healing and learning take place when a child’s deepest needs are met, both physically and mentally. We are dedicated to helping children who have been abused and neglected by recognizing their emotional, behavioral and familial problems and providing quality short-term residential care that includes access to life enrichment and character building programs.

Select a highlighted name to view bio.

New Director!!

  • Mike Rutan  Open Arms of Blue Ridge is very pleased to announce that we have a new Director, Mike Rutan, who began his duties on Monday, May 14, 2018. Mike has extensive experience providing oversight to group homes, as well as having a master’s degree in Business. Mike has several years of experience with case management, child protective services, and providing direct services. The Open Arms Board of Directors feels that Mike will fit very well with the current team of staff at the organization.
    Mike is married, has two children, and lives in the North Georgia Mountains. Please join us in welcoming Mike Rutan to Open Arms! Please feel free to contact him with any questions, and with any residential candidates for the program as we currently have vacancies. Open Arms of Blue Ridge is a Base Level facility for young ladies ages 12 – 17.

Education

University of South Carolina, BA Business Administration and Minor in Engineering, 2001

Baker Center for Graduate Studies, MS Business Administration, 2007

Concentration in Non-Profit Finances, Risk Management, and Human Resources

Professional Activities – Highlights

2016 – Certified CPR/FA Instructor

2012 – Certified North Carolina Interventions Instructor

2016-2018 Child Protective Services

2010-2016 Program Manager of Group Homes

2008- 2010 Brenham State Supported Living Center Investigator

Human Services Professional

  • Abigail Williams – Abigail Williams has been with Open Arms since February of 2018. She is married to Zach Williams and they live in the North Georgia Mountains. As the Human Services Professional she is responsible for making sure the needs of the young girls are met. Abigail is not only passionate about giving the girls a safe environment and a roof over their heads, but being a home where they can grow emotionally, educationally, and spiritually. The development of Abigail’s thesis “Positive Youth Development and the Resilience of At-Risk Children” has given her insight into what it takes to develop resilience in these girls so that they can live positive and well-rounded lives when they leave her care.

Education
Lee University | Bachelor of Arts Psychology, Cum Laude

Brenau University | August 2014 – 2015

Undergraduate Research | The Correlation between Self-Esteem and Personality Types

Capstone Thesis | Positive Youth Development and the Resilience of At-Risk Children

Professional Activities – Highlights

Campaign Volunteer for Jack White | 2006

Good Samaritans of Fannin County Volunteer | 2009 – 2014, 2017

Fannin County Recreation Department Soccer Coach | 2012

Teen Pact Leadership School | 2011 – 2012

Middle School and High School Summer Camp sleep-over Counselor | 2009-2015

Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure Walk Volunteer |2011, 2013

Walked the 60 mile 3-day walk, in addition to raising $3,500 to support breast cancer research | 2012

3-year member of Cleveland Against Sex Trafficking club at Lee University| 2015-2017

Executive Board

  • Peter Knutzen - President Peter brings 20 years of executive level sales and marketing to the Open Arms Board. Peter is also a Blue Ridge real Peter Knutzenestate developer, currently developing Old Toccoa Farm.Past Board Member – Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association, Founding Member – Project Healing Waters, Blue Ridge, Past Executive Committee Member for the Georgia Children’s Health Alliance, 2007 graduate of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development – Leadership Program, 2007 & 2008 graduate of the University of Georgia Fanning Institute Leadership Program.
  • Phillip Kolodziej – Vice President
  • Nikki Mull – Secretary
  • Rita Kirby – Treasurer

Board Members

  • Cyndi Hunt
  • Elizabeth Lynch
  • Jack Meunier

Enrichment Partners

  • Studio 1 Performing Arts
  • Old Toccoa Farm
  • Blue Ridge Cotton Company & Gather
  • Blue Ridge Mountain Outfitters
  • Harry Norman, REALTORS
  • Project Chimps