Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services is preparing for it’s 20th annual Fall Festival. It comes your way tomorrow from 10am to 2pm at the Carmi campus located just west of town across from White County Ford and it’s much more than just the admin building that you can see from the road says spokesman Brian Harland for BCHFS.
“Probably hundreds of people have driven by and never realized what’s tucked away back in the cornfields there. We’re right across from White County Ford. That beautiful brick building is our admin building. We take care of all of the business up there, but if you follow that road back, there’s a curve in the road and if you take that curve straight on, there’s some beautiful brick buildings, a large gymnasium, and a large circle walking track. It’s just a beautiful campus that we’ve been blessed with. That’s our residential care, where we house teenagers who have just fell on some troubled times. It’s just a beautiful campus and we’re really blessed to have it.”
BCHFS last year celebrated 100 years and this year is the century mark since the organization took in it’s first child. Two decades ago, the first Fall Festival was held with the mission of trying to bring the public in to learn more about just what all BCHFS has to offer.
“Twenty years ago, this kind of started as just a brain child of one of our workers. It was an event to open our doors and invite people into our home. This is our home, not only for the teens and the kids we take care of, but also the people who work there, this is where we call home as well. We wouldn’t be good hosts if we invited people into our house and didn’t give you something to eat, something to do, some fun games and things to go along with it. It’s a huge event. We’ve got free food. We’ve got snacks. We’ve got cottage tours. You can take tours of the buildings and we show you a little bit of what we do and how that plays into our ministry. There’s a lot going on that day. We’ve got free crafts. There’s going to be a quilt auction and a silent auction, all sorts of stuff going on. It’s just our way of opening our doors to our home and inviting the public. Everybody is invited. It doesn’t matter if you’ve ever heard of us or not. Come on out and have a good time.”
In addition to campus and cottage tours, Harland says there will be inflatables for youngins, horseback rides, plenty of games and activities, crafts and demonstrations, food and live entertainment. There’s no cost for admission or parking…no charge for the activities and lunch is on BCHFS as well.
There’s also quilt auctions and Harland says there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 some odd quilts that have been either hand or machine made specifically for the event. Most will be auctioned off at the fall festival tomorrow. Part of the reason for the auction goes back to the fact that for more than 100 years now, BCHFS is completely privately funded. Almost the entirety of the money that BCHFS uses to operate comes from generous donations. Harland explains.
“We receive absolutely no federal or state dollars. All of our funding comes from individuals, churches, businesses and organizations. We have a staff that includes two development officers that travel the state of Illinois and visit churches. They do speaking engagements, just teaching people about our ministry and how multi-faceted our ministries are. They drum up business. They drum up this appreciation. There is a huge pitfall that we have to overcome by not receiving federal and state dollars. It’s something that we take pride in. We’ve been around for 101 years. Not a lot of organizations can last a hundred years, but how many of those organizations can last a hundred years and have a bright future while not receiving any assistance. It’s all just people that keep us going.”
Being privately held is by design. Harland mentioned a few organizations in other states that have bended and decided to take some federal and/or state funds. That has opened those establishments to lawsuits because now they have mandates they have to adhere to. Harland says the mission of BCHFS is to have Christ at the center of everything they do.
In addition to the residential care serving kids that come from a variety of backgrounds and reasons for which they are placed, BCHFS also offers Pregnancy and Maternity Care through Angel’s Cove, located in Mt. Vernon, Illinois as well as Adoption Services and Foster Care for children. The other service they’re known for statewide is their Pathways Counseling which is designed for children, adults, teens, families, couples, pretty much anyone. And it all goes back to the Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services Slogan: Building Futures. Changing Lives.
The Fall Festival runs from 10am – 2pm tomorrow at the BCHFS campus in Carmi. You can learn more through the BCHFS facebook page, call 382 – 4164, or online anytime at www.bchfs.com.