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 and Mrs. Tea Madden (members of St. Giles) serve on Thornwell’s board of directors. Included below is Mike’s report from the November 2016 board meeting. Read on to learn more about the ministries of Thornwell and how we might support them in Service to the World.
The Thornwell fall Board of Trustees meeting was held on the Clinton campus on Nov. 3-4, and was attended by Tea Madden and Michael Payne as board members from St. Giles. At the meeting, the new Thornwell logo and tagline were introduced. The tagline of “Building tomorrow’s families today” reflects the expansion of programs for families into communities throughout SC, Ga, and Fla.
The 2017 proposed budget was presented and approved with a total of almost 11 million dollars. The 2016 functional expenses were also reviewed and revealed over 80% of funds being spent on programs and services.
Despite the challenges to the residential care program, Thornwell continues to serve around 70 children. The recent federal court settlement has limited DSS placed children under the age of 12 on campus, but does not affect private placements, which have continued. With the prayerful support of the Presbyterian Church and other donors, the residential program will continue to be the central focus at Thornwell. However, Thornwell is well equipped to extend faith based care and support to families throughout the southeast.
The Mission Advancement team reported successful fund raising luncheons being held in Greenville, SC and Augusta, Ga in Oct. 2016. Another luncheon is planned for Tampa, Fla. in Feb. 2017.
The Building Families program continues to grow and expand. Lauren Smith has been hired to replace Emily Henson at St. Giles. Additional Family Specialists have been approved for the Greenville and Spartanburg areas, with ongoing discussions for host churches. New sites are also being established at First Presbyterian Church in Cheraw, SC, St. Mary’s Presbyterian Church in the Savannah area, and planned for Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Fla.
Thornwell is also providing the Strengthening Families Program on the Thornwell campus to 17 local families. This is a 14 week program offered to at risk families with children ages 6-11, and has been very well received. Plans have been made to repeat this program in the spring of 2017.
Byron Dendy, the new director of the foster care program provided an update. Thornwell’s unique program to recruit, train, and support foster families is initially being offered to the Upstate of SC, with plans to expand to the Midlands and Low Country in 2017.
Thornwell’s Early Head Start program began last summer and quickly began serving the maximum of 48 children. The 4K program is now serving 72 local children in 4 classes. The summer “Momentum” program was very successful for rising second through tenth graders. Through tutoring programs, 41 local community students and the Thornwell residential students improved their math skills by a grade equivalent of three months, and reading improved by four months. Two teachers have been hired and are being trained to implement a new Read Right reading program. This will be offered to campus students in need, and perhaps to outside students in an online program later.
A report was also presented from Gretchen Huggins on Thornwell’s Lush Acres Farm. Forty seven turkeys have been sold to the Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery for Thanksgiving. Also, 283 dozen eggs were sold to the Cafe from June 1-Sept. 30, 2016 for a total of $1,320. Mission groups from throughout the southeast were on campus last summer, completing many projects. A compost unit was constructed, a donkey shelter was constructed and painted, chicken coops were built and repaired, and various fencing projects finished. Ms. Huggins also reported that she will be participating in a Clemson Extension Program involving workshops to “Take Your Farm Business to the Next Level”.
The meeting concluded with a sense of optimism for the continued evolution and growth of the Thornwell Mission. Thanks be to God.