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!
Boys Home students began their summer with a fun-filled week, thanks to a mission group from Virginia Beach. From Monday, June 17, through Friday, June 21, Galilee Episcopal Church hosted a full week of sports and fun on and off campus. The group, led by Marty O’Rourke, Duff McDuffie, and Nichole Farbod, included twelve members of the Galilee youth group, several of whom had participated in previous years’ mission trips to Boys Home.
“I’m here because I was here two years ago, and I love sports, and I love helping people, and I heard this was a really good way to get involved with all that,” said Isabelle Weiss, a member of the group.
Mornings during the week were devoted to sports. The group started with a variety of skill-building drills, and later everyone would participate in a game. Students learned the basics of rugby, lacrosse, and soccer; for some, this was their first introduction to one or more of the sports!
As the temperatures warmed up in the afternoons, the boys and the mission group got to have some adventures in and around the area. Everyone had a great time kayaking on the Jackson River, staying cool at ACE Adventure Park in Beckley, and going down a huge slip ’n slide set up on the hill by the Wheatley Center.
The week ended with an awards ceremony on Friday evening. Marty and the mission group recognized the students for their participation with a variety of awards, such as the “Heart of Gold” award. Some students were presented with a soccer ball.
Boys Home boys really enjoyed their time with the mission group from Galilee. One resident described the week as “awesome and amazing,” and another already asked if they can stay for two weeks next year!
From Sunday, May 19, through Friday, May 24, Boys Home of Virginia hosted a fantastic group of volunteers on campus. The group consisted of six men from Trinity Episcopal Church, in Portsmouth, VA, led by Paul Radford. They arrived on Sunday in time for a picnic, had a short evening to relax, and then got right to work!
On Monday morning, the group began the restoration of an old fence around the cemetery in the lower field. With the help of Louis Sarratt, who is in charge of special projects at Boys Home, the group cleared the brush away from the site, disposed of the old chain-link fencing, righted the metal fence posts, capped them with wooden posts, and installed a gate and fence rails. Some volunteers even helped mill the fence rails!
The connection with Trinity in Portsmouth began several years ago, when Boys Home executive director Donnie Wheatley visited the church to spread the word about Boys Home. His visit led to a dialogue with the pastor, and later on led to a mission group traveling to Covington to volunteer on campus. Paul Radford was one of the first to attend, and he hasn’t missed a trip since.
“I just fell in love with Boys Home,” he says. In his five years of volunteering, he’s helped with repairing buildings on the farm, fencing, painting, rebuilding bleachers, and various garden and farm projects. This year’s group is primarily made up of retirees, four of whom have attended trips in previous years. Cameron Ballinger rounded out the group as the youngest participant, providing some new energy and earning volunteer hours toward his high school graduation next year. Boys Home is especially grateful for such dedicated help!
Boys Home of Virginia is sad to announce the death of Mr. Carl Blacke. He served at Boys Home for over 15 years in various capacities and was most recently a houseparent. The entire Boys Home community will miss the kindnesses that he extended to both students and staff.
The funeral will be Saturday, March 9 at Glasgow Baptist Church, 805 10th Street Glasgow, VA at 1:00 p.m. Visitation will be 12-1 prior to funeral. Reception will take place at Community Center about a mile from the church.