Grandfather Home for Children is a Christian ministry providing love and healing for more than 500 children each year. The children in our care have experienced deep hurt from unimaginable abuse, neglect and sometimes both.
On our beautiful, historic campus in Banner Elk, North Carolina, generations of children have been given a warm and comfortable bed with nurturing caregivers who help give them much-needed direction. Today, the campus hosts residential care programs and serves as the hub for several carefully-targeted services stretching from the Carolina mountains west of Asheville to the sand hills east of Raleigh.
Our Christian staff works with our children to resolve their hurt and to provide acceptance, hope and new life skills to overcome the challenges they face. We strive to mend families whenever possible, and we involve parents in treatment initiatives. If a child cannot be reunited with his or her biological family, we work to place the child with a trained foster family, and eventually an adoptive family. We understand a loving family environment is crucial for children to develop and thrive, so we provide support to all our foster and adoptive families so they have the resources needed to nurture their children.
Prayer and strong private financial support are essential to sustain and improve our ministry's work.
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Grandfather Home for Children began in 1914 when Reverend Edgar Tufts, a Presbyterian minister, converted a farmhouse belonging to Lees-McRae Institute (now Lees-McRae College) into an orphanage for homeless children. Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Holcombe were the first house parents at what was then called “Grandfather Orphans’ Home.” Soon the home was filled with children. Because of the growing number of children, a dormitory and a school were built. While serving as director of the home, Edgar H. Tufts, son of the founder, oversaw construction of many of the stone buildings on the campus. These beautiful stone buildings still exist on our campus today.
When Reverend Tufts died in 1923, the Edgar Tufts Memorial Association was formed to benefit the ministries he founded: Grace Hospital, Lees-McRae Institute, and Grandfather Orphans’ Home. Trustees from Concord and Holston Presbyteries established a governing body to oversee the operation of these organizations.
In 1957, Grandfather Home for Children was incorporated separately with an independent board of trustees, while retaining its roots with the Presbyterian Church.
Over the decades, Grandfather Home refocused its ministry to provide help to a changing population of children in need. The ministry has adjusted and adapted to best serve what we call “the child now before us.”
Starting in 1914 and for the next several decades, children were admitted if they were biological orphans. Beginning in the 1970s, most children brought to the home had been abused and neglected. Near the turn of the century, Grandfather Home’s residential treatment ministry focused on children who had experienced multiple placement failures and sexual abuse. The ministry also began facilitating foster care and adoptions.