The Hope Center for Children was formed from two strong organizations with a common theme of high quality services for children since the 1970s: Children Shelter of the Upstate and Ellen Hines Smith Girls’ Home.
A Law Enforcement Assistance Agency grant of $98,500 was awarded jointly to Spartanburg County Family Court and Junior League of Spartanburg for a home for pre-delinquent teenage girls.
The Spartanburg Girls Home opens its doors to the first group of six predelinquent girls. Ellen Hines Smith is the first Board Chairperson. Director of the home, Peter Moore, shared, “The home is not a detention facility…it’s a treatment facility to help these girls and their families adjust.”
Moore said the girls home approach is the best because it is a “group home, where the girls aren’t banned from the community and where the family of each resident are drawn into the treatment.” The girls home has been accepting young ladies for a year.
The Spartanburg Medical Auxiliary, especially member Sara Shingler, Ellen Hines Smith and Dateria Johnson (Department of Social Services Protective Services Supervisor) put their heads together to help abused and neglected children in Spartanburg County .
Spartanburg County Council approved financing approximately one quarter of the projected cost of a Children’s Emergency Shelter program. A group of local residents organized to start the program that will house children who are abandoned, abused or neglected. The remaining funds will be provided through grants from the State Department of Social Services.
It will serve as a temporary emergency shelter for children from birth through 17 years old, who have been neglected, abandoned or abused by their parents. The children can be housed at the shelter for up to 30 days, at which time they will be returned to their natural or legal home or placed in a substitute home for a longer or continuing period.
Ellen Hines Smith on the relocation of the Girls’ Home; “Moving is another dream come true,” she asserts, “We always hoped to have a place which provided all the things we wanted for the girls- to be close in town, have acreage where the girls could get out and have some space. Now we have space to grow and all the other things we have ever wanted. This house is the answer to all our hopes and dreams.” With the addition of eight bedrooms at the rear of the home, the new location at 241 Cedar Springs Rd can house 16 girls.
Ellen Hines Smith was the founding Chairwoman of the Junior League as well as the first Board of Directors
Sixteen girls, between 11 and 16 years old, live in the home. Their days are structured, and they earn privileges through a system that rewards positive behavior. A resident of the girls home said, “The Ellen Hines School is a very powerful place. It teaches the value of friends, love, family and most of all, life.”
Paula Wiggs, Director of the 23-year-old Ellen Hines Smith Girls Home, has started a Girl Scout troop, a garden club and a news paper which is produced by the girls and mailed to parents and supporters of the home. “We can’t remedy the situation with the involvement of families. They have to work with us because often their previous lifestyles have contributed to their children’s problems.” She said.
The Spartanburg children’s shelter has been a source of help to more than 5,600 children over the past two decades. During this year, the shelter’s 20th anniversary, the non-profit agency’s Board of Directors has launched a campaign to raise $300,000 for an activities center to be built near the shelter.
“This child enrichment center will just offer so much more to the children that are here,” Brenda James, Chairperson of the fundraising committee for the construction, “This will give the children more space and protect their privacy by reducing the number of people who come in to the children’s living space.” This expansion was made possible because of the 1999 adjacent land purchase of 2.27 acres from the City of Spartanburg.
A “for sale” sign would have been on the door of the Spartanburg Children’s Shelter if it had not been for the United Way of the Piedmont. The budget cuts would cause the Children’s Shelter to close if the United Way had not assisted the shelter through the allocation of funds.
Anchor House, a new cottage for girls will officially open to provide safe housing for 14 teen girls in foster care. The home was named by the parents of Clay Spencer to honor his memory. Clay tragically died in a boating accident in 2002.
Under CEO, Chamlee Loscuito, services were successfully expanded from work on the campus to home-based work with the entire family unit. This enabled the first case of providing enough support that removal of the child was completely prevented.
A partnership between the SC Department of Social Services and the Girls’ Home allowed this prevention focused program to offer assessment and case management for families with stress or risks in the home environment that could increase the children’s risk of abuse or neglect. More than 2,000 individuals were served this first year.
The Ellen Hines Smith Girls’ Home and Children Shelter of the Upstate merged January 1st so they could offer more services and programs. The combined organization will be Hope Center for Children and will offer a residential home for teenage girls and a short term shelter for boys and girls as well as community-based programming.
In August 2013. Hope Center for Children launched this program to serve youth between 16 and 22 years old who are aging out of foster care and have no safe place to live or the support they need to successfully transition into adulthood.
Thanks to a grant from The Duke Endowment, a community based Clinical Services Program is established and makes individual and family therapy available to all county residents.