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Powers flourishes at Kennedy Home

August 18, 2014

By Jim Edminson
The white carriage ceremonially travels the newly paved road leading to historic Cedar Dell while guests, alumni and residents along the way wave and shout greetings to Captain William Lafayette Kennedy, portrayed by Kennedy Home alum and Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) Trustee Jim Dyer, and Kennedy’s wife Emily, portrayed by Kennedy Home alumna Doris Hartley Powers. The duo garbed in period clothing transpose onlookers to the time of the founding of Kennedy Home 100 years ago.
“Things were much different the first time I came on to these grounds as a seven-year-old,” Powers remembers. “The road was dirt and the car tires crunched on the gravel. I brought nothing. I had only a changing of clothes.”
Powers was honored to become Emily Hardee Kennedy as part of Kennedy Home’s Centennial Celebration on July 5 and 6 in Kinston. On Saturday July 5, she hosted hundreds of guests who visited Cedar Dell, the Kennedy’s home which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“What a difference from the three-room shack where I lived before coming to Kennedy Home,” she says. “For the first time in my young life, I was safe and secure. Here my siblings and I did not have to scrounge for food. We didn’t have to worry. We didn’t have to sell bottles we found along the streets just to buy a loaf of bread.”
Seventy-two-year-old Powers lived at Kennedy Home from 1948 to 1959 when she graduated from high school and left to attend Gardner-Webb College in Boiling Springs where she met her husband of 52 years, Jimmy.
“I was the first in my family to graduate high school,” Powers says. “Education was important to me and I knew Kennedy Home was the path to college and a future.”
Powers recalls one morning in her senior year of high school sitting on the porch of her cottage as the sun rose, illuminating a vast wheat field turning the stalks golden. “I suddenly felt overwhelmed. I thought, ‘How could this be happening to me?’ With both tears in my eyes and a smile on my face, I sat amazed and pondered all that my life had become.”
After completing college, Powers taught fourth graders. She and Jimmy had one child, a son named Jamie, and she has seen God turn the Christian foundation she received from her childhood at Kennedy Home into a lifetime of service to Him.
“Because of Kennedy Home, I was able to flourish,” she says. “I learned about Jesus in a real way. I shudder to think what my life would have been, but God was in it all.”
Powers hopes that others who come to Baptist Children’s Homes will know the hope she found. She trusts they will come to accept Jesus as Savior like she did. “Who you are now does not have to be who you become,” she says. “God knew me from the beginning and He had a plan for my life. He has one for yours, too.”
Powers is featured in a new Cooperative Program video highlighting church giving to BCH. She shares her testimony and gives thanks for a second chance at life: “I thank you (North Carolina Baptists) and I will be forever grateful and I can never do enough to show that gratitude. They (you) gave me hope.”

Cooperative Program Video- Doris Powers Finds Hope at Kennedy Home