In Wytheville, VA, a town of 8,000 in southwest Virginia, the Presbyterian Children’s Home of the Highlands (PCHH) has been a life line for children for over 100 years. What was founded by the Abingdon Presbytery in 1919 as an orphanage is now a residential facility for abused and neglected children ages 5 to 17.

Wytheville is located in an area with the highest poverty rates in Virginia. In 2019 the United Way of Southwest Virginia reported that as many as 59% of households in this region cannot afford the basic cost of living. It is an area with a persistent and stubborn drug abuse problem, beginning with oxycontin, leading to heroin and methamphetamines. Despite the reduced number of prescription drugs flowing into this part of Appalachia, drug overdoses in Southwest Virginia are up 11% since the start of 2020, according to the Virginia Department of Health. It has also been noted that drugs are starting to reach a younger age group in the area.
This combination of poverty and drug abuse wreaks havoc on families who already are living close to the margins. And the children are the most vulnerable. Through no fault of their own, children can and do fall through the foster care system - which is the first choice in Virginia for child placement – and is overburdened. Social service agencies refer children to PCHH, where they are provided something like a normal home environment, with house parents, counselors, nutritious and regular meals, education, recreational opportunities, and medical services. Let’s hear from Jimmy Nichols now.

Of course COVID and the lock down have had an impact on PCHH. They met the educational needs of the children – some of whom were going off campus to public schools - by contracting with two teachers to give the children four hours of individual instruction per day. The sense is that with school closings and Social Services agency staffs working from home, some children are falling through the cracks. Currently the children being placed at PCHH are staying longer.

SPC is one of 59 Covenant churches that support PCHH regularly. A Covenant Church is a body of believers that officially partners with PCHH in meeting the mission of “Giving Children Hope & Purpose for the Future.” PCHH is the only Presbyterian children’s home in Virginia. Thank you SPC for your support.


Additional Resources

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