Palmer Home serves children in need

By Russell Hood
The Webster Progress-Times

Palmer Home for Children has helped improve the lives of thousands of children in need from all over the country since its founding nearly 120 years ago, local Rotarians learned last week.

Katharine Hewlett, marketing and public relations manager, gave a presentation about the privately funded non-profit ministry to the Eupora Rotary Club on Nov. 18, which included a short film.

“Palmer Home is a safe haven for children in need,” she said.

Since 1895, Palmer Home has been a leader in residential child care with a mission to provide long-term care for children who lack an adequate family structure. Drake Bassett is president and CEO.

The children live in homes with houseparents on campuses in Columbus and near Hernando. The houseparents are trained, full-time employees of Palmer Home, which keeps siblings together and seeks to reconcile ties to biological families when possible.

“They make sure these children feel love and acceptance,” Hewlett said of the houseparents, adding that they feel called into the ministry and come from all professions.

Palmer Home has the support of various organizations, churches and businesses, said Hewlett, and work groups come to the campuses to help out.

Palmer Home gives children opportunities to live a normal live, according to Hewlett. One example of a success story she shared was of a former Palmer Home resident who has earned her RN degree.

Hewlett also mentioned the Palmer Home Reins therapeutic riding program, which encourages mental and physical development of special-needs children through equine-assisted activities. The young residents at PHC who volunteer to assist with the program gain self-confidence from taking care of horses and riding, she said.

She explained that the faith-driven organization is committed to the Whole Child Initiative. This approach addresses four areas in the life of a child: their emotional healing, educational support, physical development and spiritual growth.

Addressing these four areas will help children overcome the challenges of their past and provide the foundation to become responsible, caring adults, she said.

The organization expanded its network into Nashville, Tenn., in March by partnering with Jonah’s Journey. Jonah’s Journey is a ministry of Christian caregivers who provide temporary or long-term care for children of mothers who are incarcerated or unable to care for them for any reason
Hewlett said PHC serves about 100 children from birth through college age on its two campuses and about 30 through Jonah’s Journey. A transitional living program is also available.

Proceeds from the Palmer Home for Children Thrift Store on Highway 12 in Starkville are spent on the mission. Christmas cards created by Palmer Home children can be ordered online at