Baptist Children's Homes: bringing hope for 120 years : Friday, July 15, 2005
July 15 2005 by

Baptist Children's Homes: bringing hope for 120 years : Friday, July 15, 2005
Friday, July 15, 2005

Baptist Children's Homes: bringing hope for 120 years

From contributed reports

Laughter echoing across the Mills Home campus heralded an historic event on June 14. Baptist Children's Homes of N.C. (BCH) celebrated its 120th anniversary of serving hurting children and families by bringing together all staff and children in care from the agency's statewide facilities at its oldest residential campus in Thomasville.

FAMILY - Residents and staff of the Baptist Children's Homes gather June 14 to celebrate 120 years of service.
"Family Gathering 2" not only recognized BCH's rich history, but also celebrated the countless lives that have been changed for more than a century.

"'Awesome' is one of those words that has lost some of its meaning because it is so overused," said BCH president Michael C. Blackwell. "But, in the case of Family Gathering 2, I can't find a better word to describe the day."

The anniversary event is only the second time the entire BCH "family" has gathered at the same time and place. Approximately 600 BCH children and staff participated in a day of games, singing and a program in the campus church to end the day's festivities. Children competed in races, basketball, volleyball and other outdoor activities.

Because of the geographical separation between BCH's facilities across the state, many children and staff met for the first time at the event. Others renewed old friendships.

"This day is about meeting a lot of new people and just having fun," said sixteen-year-old Travis, who has lived at BCH's Broyhill Home in western North Carolina since 1997.

Children cheered loudly for one another during the games. Even though many had just met for the first time, friendships formed quickly. Common threads bind all the children, no matter where they live. Many come to BCH from unstable or unsafe conditions. Some children deal with low self-esteem, educational challenges or issues plaguing their entire family. But most importantly, they all need to be loved.

"We have the most dedicated and loving child care workers caring for the needs of our children," Blackwell said. "The commitment of our staff has helped ensure that BCH has been able to make a difference in the lives of children and families since the agency first began."

John Haymes Mills founded BCH, first known as the Baptist Orphanage, in 1885 with the support of North Carolina Baptists and other friends. A longtime advocate for children, Mills was the former editor of the Biblical Recorder and superintendent of the Oxford Orphanage.

Today, BCH offers services to children and families in 12 communities across the state. Mills Home stands on the original piece of property purchased just a few miles away from John Mills' Rich Fork community farm where he lived. The agency is Thomasville's oldest continuing business.

SMILING FACES - Residents and staff of Baptist Children's Homes particpated in games, music and worship at the Mills Home campus in Thomasville, celebrating 120 years of service.
Smiles and sweat marked the faces of hundreds of children and staff as the day came to a close. The celebration fell on one of the hottest days of the year, but no one seemed to mind. Instead, all were focused on the excitement and spirit of the day. A day for BCH to honor the past, but also look towards a future that promises to further its rich legacy while continuing to impact countless lives through its mission of helping hurting children, healing broken families.

"We're charting an exciting pathway to the future," Blackwell said. "Not only for the agency, but by bringing hope and the promise of a better tomorrow to those we serve."

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