What is in this article?:
- Children's Home campus outside Paragould, Ark., is changing lives of needy children.
- Extension Service and 4-H programs educating and fostering bonds.
CHILDREN’S HOME IN Paragould, Ark., makes extensive use of Extension and 4-H programs. Among those overseeing the residents are Kisha Clayton, left, and Gary Cupp.
Understandably, the children often arrive at the campus traumatized, frightened, with just the clothes on their backs. Many are predisposed to distrust anyone.
“You can’t believe some of their heart-breaking back stories,” says Gary Cupp, director of development at Children’s Home, Inc., outside Paragould, Ark. “But in the end, you can’t let pity paralyze you. That does them no good. They need love, they need time to heal, they need guidance and they need the skills to be successful adults. That’s our responsibility.”
Among the first things the children are provided are toiletries and clothes.
It may seem incongruent, but Cupp says that’s a big reason why – hemmed in by well-kept red brick houses, a gym, a school and offices – he’s happy that a modest new building is being erected. Amid the rolling hills and towering oaks of the campus, the building will serve as not only a pantry where those in the houses can get groceries but a clothing “store.” It will also help provide the initial shot of respect those running Children’s Home are so keen to provide.
“Look, it’s all new and chances are they’re going to be upset,” says Cupp. “They’re with folks they don’t know in a place they don’t know. This building will be nice because it will let them look through the clothes racks, let them make choices. It’s a small thing but it’ll show them respect. As well-meaning as it may be, we don’t want to hand them a trash bag full of clothes that we’ve chosen for them.”
While it does function partially as an orphanage, there is a reason the campus largely looks like a pretty, clean neighborhood. “We try and stay away from anything that could be seen as ‘institutional.’ There are no tall fences. These children are not institutionalized. They live in group homes with group parents – as normal as possible. That’s how we do it.”
Read the backstory of Children's Home and Farm Press here.
Photo gallery here.