Dedicated to the Future

May 24, 2017

The excitement of moving into a new house has an energy all its own—the smell of fresh paint, crisp clean features, and wide open rooms bursting with potential. Multiply that excitement by three families with a combined thirty children who have waited an entire year for this day, and you might have an idea of how Palmer Home for Children felt last week at the dedication of our new cottages.

Donors, staff, children and friends of Palmer Home gathered inside Hope Chapel on Palmer Home’s Hernando campus to celebrate the occasion.

“I don’t think it’s possible in one season to talk about what it takes to get us to a moment like this,” began Drake Bassett, Palmer Home for Children President and CEO, as he addressed the crowd gathered. “So many people are part of the story, part of the progress.”

Many significant donors would be recognized during the course of the dedication, but Bassett pointed to the importance of every individual who gave in the mission to create a place for vulnerable children to call home.

“However you touched this story, you are salt of the earth. Today you are pure salt,” he said, referencing Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Bassett continued to describe the way Palmer Home shines light into the lives for children who have experienced so much darkness.

The salt and light of Palmer Home’s mission to Rescue and Restore lives is particularly needed as more and more organizations move away from the group home model of care. In Mississippi, Palmer Home is one of only a few organizations that continue to accept sibling groups and keep them together. Maintaining the bond between siblings can be an important aspect of restoring young lives.

“There’s a need for this,” he said of the three new homes situated just outside the chapel. “Someday these children will be ready for foster care [through Jonah’s Journey]. We can’t wait for them to have a family. But in crisis situations, group homes are needed.”

Bassett welcomed Robert Farris, Palmer Home’s Vice President of Rescue to the podium to share more about how the new cottages came to be. Farris began with a brief history of the Hernando campus, which began almost twenty years ago with 2,000 acres and a dream.

Funding for the first cottage on campus was donated by Independent Presbyterian Church of Memphis. As Farris had hoped, other donors followed the church’s lead. George Cooke donated funds for the Cooke-Miller Cottage. John and Beth Reeves provided support for another cottage. The Langley family built a pavilion and director’s home, and Chuck and Michelle Bolton provided the funding for Hope Chapel. Glenna Flaut donated for the director’s home in Hernando.

“A lot of people have come before us to make this happen,” Farris said.

Well over a decade later, support for growth on the Hernando campus continues. Farris thanked Karen Carlisle, Frank & Shirley Lee, and Tam & Nora Etheridge for providing major gifts towards the newest cottages on campus.

Farris introduced the construction leaders from Fulwood Construction who he said made the process of building three homes “a pleasure”. He also recognized the many companies who donated upgrades in products like flooring, lighting and brick to the project. Several of the vendors were in attendance, including representatives from Studio41 of Chicago.

The project came together under the leadership of Warren Miconi of Miconi Project Management. With interior design help from Elizabeth Fisher, all the finishing touches were added, resulting in three beautiful new cottages that will house the children of Palmer Home for years to come.

After recognizing those who helped make these new homes a reality, Farris introduced Palmer Home’s TrebleMakers choir. Full of smiles and clothed in spring-inspired white, the children closed the ceremony with sweet praise choruses.

The crowd then spilled out into the bright May sunlight and gathered on the drive of one of the new homes. Pastor Chris Sykes of The Church of Lake Forest read a few verses of scripture and prayed blessings upon each cottage and the restorative work that will take place within.

All three cottages opened their doors to attendees, a rare opportunity since cottages are only opened to the public once a year. Guests were drawn to the modern furnishings, hardwood floors, custom-built tables and spacious layout that defined each home.  While every cottage hosts the same floor plan, furnishings and finishes vary, giving each home its own unique style.

Houseparents welcomed guests to each cottage, sharing their high hopes and excitement for the new homes. While an official move-in date is still on the horizon, it’s clear the residents of Palmer Home are looking forward to making memories together in their beautiful new cottages.