|The Mission of Methodist Home for Children is to promote the provision of quality services to children, youth and families through effective management, strategic planning, program development, and development and management of resources, including selection of directors of subsidiary entities which provide such services and develop and manage resources, (such entities together with this Corporation, to be called herein the “Methodist Services System”).
The Methodist Episcopal Orphanage in Philadelphia, now known as the Methodist Home for Children arose from the sensitivity of women in Philadelphia to the needs of children orphaned as a result of the Civil War. Mrs. Ellen Simpson, the wife of Bishop Matthew Simpson, then the resident Bishop of the Philadelphia Conference, issued a call to the women of the Methodist Episcopal Church to organize a charity to provide for the needy orphans. The first meeting was held on December 2nd, 1878 at Wesley Hall in Philadelphia. The women who were gathered represented many of the churches in Philadelphia and voted unanimously to organize the orphanage and the constitution was presented and adopted on December 17, 1878.
The first home opened in September 1879 from the generosity of Mr. Richard Dobbins at 2104 Park Avenue in Philadelphia. Mr. Dobbins gave temporary use of his house, which was beautifully furnished, to the orphanage and three small children moved in during October, with another 13 children moving in by the end of the year. All aspects of operating the orphanage were conducted by the women volunteers, supported by a distinguished Board of Advisors who helped manage financial and fundraising activities.
Fundraising began right away, with a city-wide fair as one of the first events. Bishop Simpson opened the Fair and welcomed President and Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes. The Fair netted $18,000 and was the first of many public events to awareness about the plight of the children and raise funds to support the operations and expansion of the orphanage. Two additional locations housed the orphanage before the permanent and current location was secured. The second home housed 34 children at 1802 Berks Street and the third home was at the corner of Monument and Ford Road accommodating 54 children given by Col. Joseph Bennett.
The final and permanent location at 4300 Monument Road was also a generous gift from Col. Bennett in 1882. Plans for the new orphanage building were accepted from Mr. Thomas P. Lonsdale, an architect and a graduate of Girard College. There is something symbolical in this being that Mr. Lonsdale, who was the product of the College Home established by Stephen Girard for poor orphan boys, designed the building which became a home for other poor orphans.
During the early 1950’s the name changed to the Methodist Home for Children. Further changes in the social and economic conditions of the city set the stage for a dramatic shift in the operations of the orphanage. During this period, Methodist Home for Children evolved from being volunteer operated charity to one utilizing paid professional social work staff. Fewer applications to reside in the orphanage were being received, and a greater need was being felt to provide support for children in the community as a result of broken homes, abuse and neglect.
Planning and advocating for children today includes an intensive effort to care for children and individuals in their own community whenever possible. Specialized programs have been developed to support outreach into the community through a number of services and non-profit corporations under the umbrella of Methodist Services System including Methodist Family Services of Philadelphia and Methodist Services for Children and Families.
Volunteers from the Women’s Auxiliary continue to work with admirable dedication and energy to further the mission and outreach of the Methodist Home for Children through the Auxiliary and a beginning Friends of Methodist Home for Children. Meetings are held periodically through the year and from the generosity of its members, the Auxiliary provides financial gifts to the various programs which directly benefit the children and women involved in the many programs.