Palmer Home’s Hernando location expands to provide service and support for underprivileged children
Story by Sarah Vaughan | Photos courtesy of
When Chasity and her siblings came to Palmer Home’s Hernando campus, the thought of graduation was far from her mind. Now she’s not only completed high school, but graduated Bellevue’s nursing school, enjoying a career as a nurse at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Chasity’s brother just earned his Associate’s Degree this spring, and her sister graduated high school and will be attending the University of Memphis in the fall.
The story of Chasity and her siblings could have been a very different one. Every day, children are abused, neglected, and abandoned. Life can be a long and difficult journey with many roadblocks. For many underprivileged children around the country and in DeSoto County, Palmer Home has provided shelter, stability, and security, along with the education, healthcare, and love these children so desperately need.
“What’s unique to Palmer Home is our approach to how we care for the children,” says Kellum Kim, Director of Marketing. “Each child is viewed using the whole child approach — physical, emotional, educational and spiritual. We have monthly reviews, called Whole Child Reviews, in which we gauge where each child is in each of those four categories and address areas where they are lacking with an action plan.”
Palmer Home’s greatest measure of success is the children themselves. Many have come to Palmer Home behind in school or with undiagnosed dyslexia and other learning disorders that have prevented them from completing high school, only to catch up several grade levels to graduate on time and to go to college or a trade school that allows them to become self-sustaining adults with gainful employment.
Another child under Palmer Home’s care came to them with severe gaps in education and was not on track to graduate on time through no fault of her own. She took three math classes so she could graduate this year and is on her way to Northeast Community College in the fall.
“Abuse, neglect, abandonment, and poverty are colorblind,” says Kim. “They do not care about gender. These children were in situations where, for whatever reason, parents were unable to provide the stability that a child needs. The word orphanage has such a negative connotation to it. Palmer Home is different; we are caring for modern orphans. We are known for keeping siblings together. We’re not just providing a warm home; we’re providing family and stability and a plan to overcome their past instead of using their past as an excuse not to succeed.”
“Those of us who live in comfort, we get to deny pieces of our story exists. These children don’t get to ignore their story,” says Drake Bassett, President Palmer Homes is able to rescue these children through a variety of ways, from court order placements to grandparents who fall ill or who are unable to provide for their grandchildren financially or otherwise. Since its founding in 1895, Palmer Home has served thousands of children. They have 102 in their care today, 72 in residential care at the Hernando and Columbus, Mississippi locations, and 30 who are in foster care under the Palmer Home ministry Jonah’s Journey.
In 2016 alone, Palmer Home:
• Served 145 children
• Rescued 54 children
• Educated 40 children at Palmer School (at the Columbus location)
Recently, Palmer Home’s Hernando location expanded to include three new cottages that will house an additional 24 children. In addition to its previous three cottages, its total capacity is now 48 children, who will move into the new homes before the beginning of the next school year. Their Hernando location features stunning state-of-the-art homes on acres of land with a large lake and walking trails. A $10 million wellness center is also in the works. The center will serve as a community hub featuring on-site playground facilities, rooms for tutoring, a pool, and a fitness center.
For those interested in contributing to Palmer Home, there are a variety of ways to invest in their endeavors. Monetary donations as well as toiletries and other needed items can be made by visiting www.palmerhome.org/donate. Members of the community are also welcome to visit the Hernando campus to learn more about Palmer Home. The organization welcomes individuals, churches, civic groups, schools, and businesses who are interested in seeing firsthand the work of Palmer Home.