Rabun Manor building
Grant Recipient

March 16, 2012

Rabun Manor in Georgia owned by former US Marine wins Amber Grant

Rabun Manor

Woman Entrepreneur:
Ginger Isom

We’re excited to announce the February winner… Ginger Isom owner of Rabun Manor in Dillard, Georgia… Congratulations to Ginger.  We fell in love with her story – and we’re sure you’ll be inspired by what she shared with us below.
As a quick heads up, we’re now taking applications for the March WomensNet.net Amber grant.  Please be sure to tell us your story if you want to be considered for our women’s business grant.
And now here is our latest grant winner, Ginger Isom.

Video Transcript

WNN: What motivated you to become a self-employed woman?

I’m a former United States Marine.  I was a comptroller at the Headquarters of II MEF in Jacksonville, NC for 4 years. I also served an additional tour in Iraq where I supervised a platoon of marines and managed a detention facility.  For the last 10 years, I’ve been in the Executive Protection field as a close protection agent.  My clients have been varied – Heads of State, foreign diplomats, Fortune 500 individuals.  A year ago, I began looking for property in the Tennessee/Georgia areas to purchase that would serve as a kind of home base for me. During this search, however, I came upon a number of properties that would allow me to open a retreat/event center — a dream of mine for many years.  A dear friend, Nancy Childress, a Methodist pastor of 25+ years in Great Falls, Virginia, has walked with me through this process and in doing so, has realized that this has been a life-long dream of hers as well.  We teamed up to purchase an incredible property—Raburn Manor – in Dillard, Georgia in June of 2011. Since acquiring the property, we have been making trips from Great Falls, VA to Dillard working primarily on the grounds. We will be permanently moving to the property this spring.

WNN: Tell us about your business.  We were very intrigued by your story. 

Thanks… Rabun Manor is a 3-acre piece of property located in Northern Georgia in the middle of 3 national forests. The main building is an 11,000 square foot structure consisting of an 1850’s house and 2 new additions. The addition to the left of the old house is a 2-story event center (7,500 sq.ft. — seats 250). The addition to the right is a private dining room (seats 25). The old house has 6 bedrooms and 6 baths, a living room, library, and large foyers. Since the new additions are ready to use, we are currently booking events for that space. The old house, however, needs much repair and work. We hope to gradually make these repairs so these areas can be used for overnight guests. Nancy and I want to offer our accommodations to a variety of people groups. Our goal is to provide an event/retreat setting for various healing/therapeutic opportunities to people seeking wholeness in their lives.

WNN:  You said, “Our goal is to provide as event/retreat setting for various healing/therapeutic opportunities to people seeking wholeness in their lives.”  Please expound on that some more.

Nancy and I have a desire to reach out to hurting people.  The setting at Rabun Manor is so beautiful – it lends itself to healing.  We are both well networked with a community of experts in all fields of wellness.  Between the two of us and this community, we plan to offer people a wonderful place to rest, to restore, and rejuvenate.
Among the people we would like to help at Rabun Manor are:  returning veterans (and spouses) from Iraq and Afghanistan, married couples, ministers and their spouses, people who have experienced loss, parents of handicapped children, divorcees, and those recovering from addictions.  There will be 2 components:  1) organized teaching sessions with experts in various fields of healing – conducted in small group settings, and 2) the royal treatment – gorgeous rooms, comfortable furnishings, nature at its best, delicious food, and the kindness of our staff throughout the time visitors are with us.

WNN: How do you plan to use the Amber Grant money?

One of our first projects is the downstairs bedrooms of the old house. This area is handicapped accessible, and we think it’s the most critical to get ready for overnight guests.  A group of men who have been friends of Nancy Childress for many years, have volunteered to come to the Manor in May. These men are all professionals in the construction field and have offered to give 3-4 days to getting these areas ready to use. The grant would be used to purchase materials for this renovation. Specifically, we would purchase: sheet rock, paint, molding, and bathroom fixtures.

WNN:  Can you tell us a little bit about the history of the Manor?

Rabun Manor was formerly named The White Hall Inn.  The house was built in 1853 in Athens, Georgia.  It was purchased by the White family who used it as a school for the children of their family.  The house was moved to Dillard at the turn of the century.  It was loaded onto a train in three pieces, and then hauled by mule to its current site.  The Whites lived in the house until the mid-1980’s when they sold it to a local restaurant owner.  He added a two-story event center with 2 commercial kitchens, and opened a full restaurant.  He also ran a Bed & Breakfast in the old house.  The decline in the economy took its toll on the owner, and he lost the property about 4 years ago.  It had been sitting these years until Nancy and I purchased it in June of 2011.

WNN:  If you had to give women entrepreneurs one piece of advice, what would it be?

We would tell women entrepreneurs to never give up, never lose hope, and never stop praying!

WNN: Anything else you would like to add?

Nancy and I are extremely excited about our venture. We both love people and are especially sensitive to those that are hurting. We believe we have the ideal setting for retreats of all kinds. We just need assistance in getting our facilities up to par so they can be offered to these special people groups. We appreciate the Amber Grant.  We enjoyed reading about other grantees — quite a variety of women making a difference!  We’re proud to be among them — making contributions to our community and region every day.

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What people are saying about WomensNet


“You have to be in it to win it...seize the opportunity and apply.”

Nerd Wallet

“Every month, WomensNet awards three $10,000 Amber Grants to women-owned businesses. At the end of each year, monthly grant winners are eligible to receive one of three $25,000 annual grants.”


“Launched 20 years ago this grant honors the memory of a young woman who wanted to be an entrepreneur but died at age 19 before she could achieve her goal.”


“The Amber Grant offers three $10,000 grants to women-owned businesses each month. Then, at the end of each year, WomensNet gives an additional $25,000 to three grant winners from that year.”

Essence Magazine

“This organization offers monthly grants of up to $10,000 to support female entrepreneurs starting businesses. Those who qualify for these grants are also in the running for a yearly $25,000 grant.”