Virginia Baptists began a campaign in 1887 to help Virginia’s children in need. Baptist ministers from across the state began rallying their churches to support the establishment of a Baptist orphanage. As a result, the Baptist Orphanage of Virginia was chartered on February 24, 1890, and a committee selected a site overlooking the small town of Salem for this important new ministry.
During the 1930’s and 1940’s, Trustees of the Baptist Orphanage noticed a change in the children who came to the Orphanage. More and more often the children were not actually orphans; instead their families placed them with the Baptist Orphanage because of economic hardships. By the early 1950’s, very few residents of the Orphanage were actually orphaned. To more accurately reflect the nature of their ministry efforts, the Board of Trustees voted to change the Orphanage’s name to Virginia Baptist Children’s Home in 1953.
Over the next three decades, the Baptist Children’s Home noticed yet another shift in the situations that brought children into care. Increasingly children came to the Home because of abuse or neglect rather than families’ financial difficulties. In response to this societal change, the Children’s Home developed new ministries to reach and heal not just the children, but their families as well. By 1985, the Board of Trustees again recognized the need for a name change to reflect the Home’s expanded goal of healing the children in its care and their families. Thus, Virginia Baptist Children’s Home became Virginia Baptist Children’s Home & Family Services.
The services the Children’s Home provided continued to evolve as time passed and society’s needs changed. In1992, the Children’s Home ventured in a new direction by founding a ministry that serves adults with intellectual disabilities – the Developmental Disabilities Ministry. This new effort focused on creating home-like environments to provide long-term support for adults who need specialized support to live full, productive lives. The Developmental Disabilities Ministry now operates 17 group homes across Virginia from Abingdon to Virginia Beach.
Children’s Home becomes HopeTree
With its expanded ministries, which now include DDM homes, foster families, alternative education schools, and other services, the Children’s Home bears little resemblance to the Baptist Orphanage of the 1890’s. Therefore, another change became necessary. A new name was needed that would be inclusive of all of our programs, open our doors to all denominations, and convey our statewide locations beyond our former, singular “home” title. Thus, the Virginia Baptist Children’s Home & Family Services Foundation was established, and we adopted HopeTree Family Services as a ‘Doing Business As’ name.