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>  News Releases >   2000 >   November

Dartmouth students help to maintain a N.H. children's home

Posted 11/03/00

Since the Fall of 1998 a group of students from the Navigators Christian Fellowship at the Tucker Foundation has been venturing down to Springfield, N.H. to volunteer at a private children's home. In response to the reality of 500,000 displaced children in our country, Grace Children's Home opened its doors in 1999 to provide a loving, secure home for some of these children.

Twice last year 10-15 Navs drove to the Home for a Saturday afternoon to help with its many physical needs. The building, originally constructed as a summer mansion for a wealthy Washington, D.C., family, has served many other purposes since that time and had remained empty for several years prior to being converted to a children's home. Many structural repairs were necessary before it could be suitable for children. The Navigators saw the need and the group volunteered their services on Saturdays to paint, scrub, stack wood, build stone walls and clear brush. The home is now operational, but the day-to-day needs continue, so many Navigators continue to make the trek at least once per term.

Some Navigators also go to the home on a weekly basis to do crafts or projects with the home's first child, 9 year old Katie (6 year old Noah, adopted son of the directors, also joins in on these hours with Dartmouth students). Both are "really well adjusted and enthusiastic," says Jerry Ling '00, who was the chief organizer for the Navs volunteers.

Many of the Navs have commented that it would be "unbelievable" to grow up in such a home. They are "willing to do anything to help," says Ling. When more children join the Home, Ling is sure many Navs will become Big Brothers and Sisters and possibly serve as interns there.

About community service Ling says, "It makes you feel grateful… It's a good awareness thing." At Dartmouth, he says, it's easy to get into "your own little world"; only the "biggest" news gets through to students and it's easy to lose touch with what it's really like out there. "Students get focused on exams and papers and lose site of how good [they] have it." Ling says he is confident that there will be growing involvement with the Home, especially as more children come in.

Says Keith Marsh, President of the Home, "Some of the world's greatest leaders had difficult beginnings in life, but they learned to overcome and they changed the world. To have these students coming to the Home has already made a big impact on the children's lives. They look forward to their coming and just knowing them helps the children realize their life has value and their future can be bright. Thank you Jerry! Thank you Navigators for showing all of us here at Grace Children's Home what love is all about."

- By Nicole Leanard, Campus Minister

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