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New River Hill Refuge project given green light

Dr. Michael C. Blackwell, center, is joined by, left to right, Jay Westmoreland and BCH’s COO Keith Henry to discuss architect drawings for one of the three homes to be built at River Hill Refuge in Shelby. BCH Trustees approved a motion to build the three homes and further expand BCH’s Family Foster Care ministry on January 19.

Trustees met virtually for their semi-annual meeting on January 19. Trustee chair Nancy Hall presided as the Board heard positive reports on the ministry’s audit and investments. Trustee action was taken after Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) president/CEO Michael C. Blackwell and trustee Jay Westmoreland presented a recommendation concerning River Hill Refuge (RHR) located in Cleveland County.

“Once again, BCH is stepping to the front, leading the way in providing care for hurting children,” Blackwell told Trustees. “River Hill Refuge is an innovative way to provide foster care to larger numbers of children.”

The new RHR project is part of BCH’s growing Foster Care ministry and entails the building of three foster family homes. Each home will have a set of BCH recruited Christian foster parents who care for as many as five children at one time. The foster parents will care for the children the same way as other foster parents, except live in BCH properties. They will be trained and supported by BCH Foster Care staff, but are licensed as state foster parents.

“There is a great and growing need for foster homes, especially homes that can meet the needs of multiple children and siblings,” Westmoreland said, speaking to Trustees. “Today, I am asking for your prayers, endorsement, and support in expanding the ministry of our great organization by creating River Hill Refuge.”

Jay Westmoreland and his brother Wes are donating the property for the homes and making a lead gift to build the first home in memory of their father. The property is located on the family farm, River Hill Angus, near Shelby. The Westmoreland’s late father, Dr. Ted G. Westmoreland, was a successful veterinarian and noted for raising championship cattle.

“Dad demonstrated that hard work, patience, and integrity often lead to success,” Westmoreland said “But his success was not an end unto itself, it now offers an avenue to assist children in need.”

Trustees enthusiastically adopted a motion endorsing the project and giving the green light to raise money and to build the new homes.

“I could not be more thrilled,” Blackwell said. “The River Hill homes will join BCH’s Moody Home and Smith Home as Family Foster Homes. The new facilities are a compliment to BCH residential cottage homes and campuses.”

Trustees welcomed eight members to the board during the meeting. The new Trustees who serve until 2024 are: Carl Anderson of Leasburg; Lenuel Chamberlain of Yadkinville; Jim Dyer of Wake Forest; Matt Glover of Seaboard; Marcia Heckman of Concord; Ronnie Holman of Granite Falls; Gail King of Reidsville; Rhonda Martin of Raleigh; and Steve Shreve of Pleasant Garden.

The next full Board meeting is slated for 10:00 a.m. on September 21 in Thomasville.

Article written by Jim Edminson, Charity & Children Editor

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