Boys Home is excited to welcome John Murray to the staff as houseparent and English teacher. John has a Bachelor of English degree from Marietta College in Ohio. John worked for Roanoke City Public Schools as a teacher and a coach from 1985-2006. He was lead teacher for HopeTree WOODS School from 2006-2018. He is also author of 42 novels and a professional editor of 100+ novels. John took a short sabbatical after HopeTree WOODS closed its doors in November 2018 and wrote two novels. He says while that time was peaceful and soothing, he found himself missing teaching. He says his favorite thing about Boys Home so far are the views of the mountains from campus, the oatmeal raisin cookies in the dining hall, and the cooler air. He has also thoroughly enjoyed meeting and getting to know an extremely enthusiastic staff. John looks forward to helping “the village” turn boys into productive young men.
Recently, seven members of the Northside Baptist Church youth group, along with group leaders Bob and Karen Mills and chaperones Trudy Carlton and Lyn Folk, spent the week of July 22 – 26 at Boys Home of Virginia, helping with a variety of activities and projects across campus. All the Boys Home students enjoyed their time with the visitors.
The group brought a remarkable energy to campus during their time at Boys Home, participating in the morning summer enrichment program, afternoon work projects, and evening praise and worship sessions. During summer enrichment, youth group members were paired with students to help with reading fluency and math flashcards. With the addition of new friends, Boys Home students were energized and happy to learn. After lunch when the weather permitted, the youth group helped painted the pergola outside the administration building, often with the help of several of the Boys Home students. On rainy afternoons, they helped with office work and cleaned and organized the clothing room. Each evening, the group offered praise and worship sessions for all who were interested, including songs, a reflection, and prayer. Most Boys Home students participated, especially since praise and worship sessions were followed by group games around campus!
Although Northside Baptist is located several hours away from Covington in Mechanicsville, the church has had a connection with Boys Home for years through Bob Mills, a member of the church, an alum of Boys Home, and the alumni representative on the Boys Home Board of Trustees. When Bob and his wife Karen got involved with the youth group summer mission trips, they decided that Boys Home would be a great place for a trip. They hope to bring the youth group to Boys Home every couple years to help on campus and catch up with old friends!
On July 3rd, Boys Home’s Director of Support Services and retired Army Master Sergeant Bobby Trice received the official certificate of a Purple Heart for his service in Afghanistan. Colonel Paul Linkenhoker presented the certificate in a ceremony on the Boys Home campus.
During the ceremony, Bobby spoke of his early years at Boys Home in which he attended Callaghan Elementary. While attending Callaghan, he had a desk in Mr. Linkenhoker’s office, in order to continue learning while being scolded. Years later, Bobby is grateful to Colonel Linkenhoker and everyone who helped him get where he is today. Quoting Aristotle, he said, “the roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” Bobby’s family and the Boys Home staff and students attended the ceremony.
Summer at Boys Home is a time for summer camps, visits home to see family, and welcoming new friends to campus! This past week, June 23 – 27, Boys Home hosted a group of five people from St. Michael and All Angels’ parish in Columbia, South Carolina. The group had a productive week building raised beds, helping build a tool shed, and painting several fences on the farm, including the fence around the riding ring.
Constructed in 2017 to provide a safer surface for students to learn to ride on, the fence around the riding ring remained unpainted as the newly cut lumber dried. Now, thanks to the mission group’s hard work, the riding ring and the surrounding fences on campus look beautiful and fresh.
Father Charles Smith, rector at St. Michael and All Angels’ parish, learned about Boys Home from his great-aunt, whose husband had been a Boys Home resident. Several years ago, wanting to inspire his congregation to become more mission-minded, Father Charles suggested a mission trip, and Boys Home was a natural choice. This year’s group included three new participants, all of whom were happy to be here, learn more about Boys Home, and meet some of the students.
Visiting for the past several years, one thing Father Charles appreciates is seeing the boys grow and mature over time. While staff members recognize and celebrate students’ growth on a daily basis, visiting once each year brings a new perspective. Boys Home is grateful for that perspective, for the beautiful paint around the fences on the farm, and for such kind, friendly faces!