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 2018 board meeting. Read on to learn more about the ministries of Thornwell and how we might support them in Service to the World.
The Board of Trustees met for the final time in 2018 on Nov. 1-2. It continues to be an exciting time of transition for Thornwell, but due to the foresight of President Elliot Smith and the grace of God, Thornwell continues to thrive.
Most of the discussions revolved around the Education committee. The Early Headstart Program will continue to be funded, and the 4K and 5K programs continue to grow. The Charter School is on track to open in Aug, 2019 with a lottery to be held on Nov. 15 for prospective students. It is certain that all the Thornwell children will be guaranteed admission. The first year will be 5K-5th grade, with the middle school and high school years to be added in subsequent years. The school will offer personalized learning to every student. The very successful Read Right program will also be included and is being expanded, with hopes to offer an online program, as well. Renovations to the Learning Center, Gymnasium, and Turner Dining Hall have been approved, along with a 4 million dollar capital fund campaign. The school will benefit both the children at Thornwell, as well as local Laurens County students.
The residential program continues to be affected by the court settlement limiting child placement under age 12. We have since seen an aging up to have 70% of students being over age 12. However, there are still 65 students there receiving loving care. Stewart Cottage, used previously for very young children, has been closed for now. The Teen Mothers Cottage is still full, with need for more space if possible. The Transitional Living Program has 4 students who have graduated from high school, with some attending colleges, and one young man working full time.
The Building Families Program added staff members in Savannah, Ga. and St. Mary's, Ga. this year, and hope to expand to Augusta, Ga., Pinellas County, Fla., and Tallahassee, Fla. in 2019. The Strengthening Families Program is set to graduate its 5th class this fall, and has been very successful in extending the Family Teaching Model to families in the Laurens County area.
A farm committee has been formed and is being advised by advisers from Clemson, Presbyterian College, and from Clinton to study future uses of Lush Acres Farm, covering 340 acres. Included in the 2019 budget are monies for a new farm manager and an additional staff person to assist. Final plans are not yet available, but hopefully will include some type of livestock along with agritourism.
Thornwell is impacting more and more children and families throughout our Synod area each year. The need is great, and with the grace of God and generous donors, the mission will be able to continue for many more years in the future. Thank you to all who have donated to the Thornwell ministry.