St. Giles is grateful for the faithful work of our mission partner, Thornwell Home for Children. In addition to our annual Thornwell Sunday in January and housing office space for Thornwell’s Building Families program, Dr. Mike Payne (a longtime member of St. Giles) serves on Thornwell’s board of directors. Included below is Mike’s report from the March 2016 board meeting. Read on to learn more about the ministries of Thornwell and how we might support them in Service to the World.
I was blessed to attend the Thornwell Board of Trustees meeting this spring on March 10-11. I would like to share a summary of that, to try and keep the congregation up to date with activities at Thornwell. The Residential Program provided loving, Christ centered homes for 155 children in 2015. Currently, 71 children are living there, and they are at their capacity. Twenty percent are privately placed, and eighty percent are placed by DSS. Unfortunately, due to an ongoing lawsuit by Children’s Rights, Inc., the courts have ruled that no child under the age of 6 can be placed by DSS into a group home. This is currently being contested by Thornwell and other Christian homes like Connie Maxwell. The Residential Program also provided 849 therapy sessions to the children in need, served 123 children in after school and summer learning programs, and provided kindergarten for 124 local 4 year olds. This summer, Thornwell will open an Early Head Start program to care for infants and toddlers in need, as well.
The Building Families Program continues to expand, with 12 family specialists serving throughout SC, Ga, and Fla. In 2015, eighty families were served, impacting a total of 295 family members. The ultimate goal is to have a family specialist in each of the 16 Presbyteries in the Synod. Thornwell has also just been approved to have a Foster Care Program, and will identify, train, and support foster care families throughout the 3 states.
Gretchen Huggins continues to do an excellent job at Lush Acres Farm. She and many Thornwell students are raising chickens and turkeys, selling eggs weekly to the Swamp Rabbit Cafe, and beginning to grow mushrooms. The farm provides excellent job training and life skills for many of the students.
As you can see, Thornwell’s ministry continues to grow and thrive, with an excellent staff and leadership. They continue to need our support, through prayer as well as financially, and with our varied talents. There are opportunities for mission groups if desired. I would encourage everyone to check out the website at thornwellhome.org periodically. There you will be able to follow current events at Thornwell, and check the small needs list under the giving tab for ongoing needs. The farm can be supported online through the Laurens Tractor Supply store at www.tractorsupply.com. Items can be shipped free to the store to be picked up by the Thornwell staff.
As always, I thank St. Giles for its generosity and support of such a wonderful ministry.