Patrick Henry Boys and Girls Home: A Refuge for Children with Nowhere to Go

Issue: February 2011 by in Archives, Non-Profit

Adoption finally came to a young girl who was jostled from foster home to foster home in Florida. Soon after, her new family decided they did not want her anymore. She was filed under “failed adoption” and knew of nowhere to go.

Luckily for her, and other children like her, there is a place in Brookneal, Virginia, called the Patrick Henry Boys and Girls Home that specializes in children who have nowhere to go. Through this nonprofit organization, she is now attending college, holding down a job and working toward a brighter future.

Founded on Christian principles on February 1, 1961, and following in the footsteps of Patrick Henry’s “God and country” mindset, Patrick Henry Boys and Girls home has reached more than 1,000 children and 500 families.

“Our home base was founded on a piece of property that was given to us,” Harriet Whitten, Director of Development, said. “The majority of our properties have been donated to our organization, as is all of our funding.”

The home does not receive any government funding but instead, receives donations from individuals, churches, organizations, businesses and foundations. With these donations, the home has been able to build multiple satellite locations in Central Virginia to carry out their mission.

In the 70’s, the first satellite home, which they refer to as a “cottage,” was built in Rustburg, Virginia, and over the years, more have been built in Bedford County, Wilesburg and Halifax. Each cottage is segregated—boys from girl—and is run by a married couple that lives in the home with the children as a full-time job.

“In our informational pamphlet we have written, ‘By modeling a Christian family lifestyle, our program teaches interpersonal skills, moral values, work ethics and citizenship,’” Whitten said. “Our children attend public school, go to regular church services and we encourage them to participate in a wide variety of social and family activities.”

Each child that enters the Patrick Henry Boys and Girls Home program is placed in one of the married house, parent-led cottages. Of the house parents there are former teachers, camp directors, missionaries and youth workers. A small apartment in the cottage allows for appropriate privacy for the house parents, as some of them have children of their own who live in the cottage with them.

With the guidance of these couples, the children are raised in a family atmosphere with structure and security, and together with eight or nine other same sex children, they have daily chores, including making their bed, cleaning their room, managing their own laundry and helping with meal preparations. This is to help teach them discipline and responsibility.

“Most of our children, prior to coming to us, have not experienced life in an intact family. That is why this program is useful to them. We provide structure and security and the experience of living as a family,” Whitten said.

The cottages are for children ages 6 to 17 and are designed for those children who are past the popular adoption age. Once they reach the age of 18, they are offered admittance into the transitional living facility in Lynchburg. Here, they experience apartment living that, if attending college and not working, is offered to them free of charge. If they are working, whether they are attending college or not, the apartment is offered to them for a percentage of their income, as opposed to a rental rate. In this environment, they learn how to budget their time and money and are taught how to live on their own, practically.

Another branch of Patrick Henry Boys and Girls home, the Hope for Tomorrow counseling service, is also located at the Lynchburg location. Professional counselors serve the Patrick Henry children, as well as the general public.

“Because we are nonprofit, we charge the general public on a sliding scale, which opens up counseling for a lot of people who probably can’t afford the service,” Whitten said. “We hope in this way we can keep families intact so they never need to use our services.”

The Patrick Henry Boys and Girls Home will never send a child away because their family cannot pay. A payment plan will be set up and necessary steps are taken to ensure of this. In this way, they have earned the respect of those who make the organization possible.

“We never have and we never will leave our mission to provide a stable Christian family atmosphere for at-risk boys and girls,” Whitten said. “I believe we have stayed true to that and have served many families well.”

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