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Berean Home planning future growth to serve children’s needs in area

DAILY LEADER / KATIE WILLIAMSON /  The girls' cottage at The Berean Children's Home is set up to look as much like a home as possible. Inside, there is a big common area with couches and a television and each girl has her own room. There is also a side area in which the house

DAILY LEADER / KATIE WILLIAMSON / The girls’ cottage at The Berean Children’s Home is set up to look as much like a home as possible. Inside, there is a big common area with couches and a television and each girl has her own room. There is also a side area in which the house

Nestled away in the countryside of Bogue Chitto, is a row of little brick buildings that are home to 16 children. The children are all from different backgrounds and are different ages, but all of them have become one family at The Berean Children’s Home.

The home takes in adolescents from abusive situations or less fortunate backgrounds. Their mission is to give them a loving home and assist each child in maturing spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, socially and physically. The home is a Christian facility that works to create better lives for the children who are part of the Berean family.

“We give them the same opportunities as they would have in a normal home setting,” said Berean housemother Hayley Welch.

The children range from kindergarten through eighth grade and are all-active in various sports teams and recreation department activities. The house mothers at the facility watch over them like a biological mother would. The kids have household responsibilities such as cleaning their rooms; they have tutoring sessions; they play outside because there is no television on school days; they eat together; and they have devotion every morning.

“The children are being taught independent living skills, so they are not dependent on a system later on in life,” said Welch.

The Berean Home’s caseworker, Pamela Whitaker said the housemothers and staff members are the parents at the awards nights or sporting events who clap and holler when their child’s name is called. She added that it’s important for someone to be there in those kinds of situations, because the children have never had a parent backing them before.

Welch said that the most rewarding part about working at the children’s home is watching the kids grow from feeling unsafe with their guard up to being well-adjusted and seeing all those insecurities melt away. She added that the kids have a lot to offer when they get a chance.

Having so many children in one facility can get expensive quickly.

“Image your average household expenses and multiply that by 16,” said Welch. She said the electricity, clothes, toiletries, food, gas, medical expenses etc. all add up, costing $17,000 a month for the facility to keep it’s doors open.

Currently there are two cottages that are home to 16 children: eight boys in one and eight girls in the other. There is also a main office with a conference table, computers and books; and a cafeteria. Welch said they have plans to expand their facilities by building two more cottages, adding 16 more children to the mix. The Berean Home also has plans to build a multipurpose building that would house a basketball court, classrooms and various other facilities for children.

The new cottages will cost about $800,000, and the multi-purpose facility will cost roughly another $100,000.

The children’s home will be hosting fundraisers throughout the year to help with daily expenses as well as the facility’s expansion.

“This facility runs off donations,” said Welch. She added that they would not be operational without the support of the local community and business.

The Berean Children’s Home is a non-profit organization. The Department of Human Services gives a certain amount of money to each child and everything else comes from churches and other local organizations. Welch said that the facility hopes to have more monthly contributors and permanent volunteers.

“We are the best kept secret in Brookhaven,” said Whitaker. “No one really knows we’re out here.”

The home’s next fundraiser is a garage sale that will be Saturday, Sept. 6, from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will take place at Allen’s Corner Grocery at 944 Highway 583 SE.

“Every dime from the sale goes back into the home,” said Welch. “It takes a lot of money to keep the doors open.”

Some donations for the sale have already been collected. There are lots of clothes, glass knick-knacks, furniture and a few electronics, including retro walkmans and various other sundries. The home is still looking for more donations for the sale. They are taking everything from old appliances to jewelry to furniture. Anything and everything will be sold.

They are also looking for volunteers to help organize, plan and work the garage sale.

If you would like to contribute goods to the sale, volunteer or donate to the children’s home, contact Hayley Welch at 601-757-1713. The organization also has a Paypal account through their Facebook page and welcomes donations through the postal service or in person. The home address is located at 1180 Berea Trail SE, Bogue Chitto, and their mailing address is P.O. Box 1009, Brookhaven, MS 39602.