PE Farm Sold To Aid Patrick Henry Family Services Purchase

Published 4:59 pm Thursday, July 23, 2015

PRINCE EDWARD — The late Reid Foster, moved when he heard the Patrick Henry Boys and Girls Homes Choir sing in 2008, donated 275 acres in Darlington Heights in 2008 in hopes that a girls home would be built there.

This week, Patrick Henry Family Services (PHFS) announced the sale of the farm. According to a press release, proceeds will be used to purchase a building on Third Street in Farmville where the organization’s counseling center, Hope For Tomorrow Counseling, is located. It will be named for Reid Foster.

Also, a scholarship fund will be established so that “children with financial needs from Prince Edward and the seven surrounding counties can attend Hat Creek Camps in the summer,” the release states.

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PHFS CEO Robert Day told The Herald that it had been “a long decision. It took us awhile to kind of figure out what we were going to do as part of a long-term master plan. And, so, in that regard … it was difficult.”

PHFS, based near Brookneal, is using money from the July 9 sale of the Darlington Heights property to purchase the counseling center’s site, which once housed the regional public library.

Day said they “want to have a permanent presence in Farmville, and we feel like that’s still honoring the donor’s wishes, investing in children and families. And, we’re keeping the money local.”

Paperwork is being finalized, but a lease-purchase agreement has been exercised, according to Town Manager Gerald Spates. (The total cost is $225,000, with prior rent being applied to the purchase price.) Farmville technically owns the property, but there’s an agreement stipulating that the sale money goes into an escrow account for library projects. Those expenditures would have to be agreed on by the Town, Prince Edward County and library board.

The sale is a welcome one, said Spates, who sees the addition as good for downtown.

Day said PHFS’ four counseling centers currently average about 900 sessions. The South Boston and Lynchburg sites have waiting lists and Farmville is “pretty full right now, but we are able to maintain services according to the need.” Families, he said, are going through a lot and counselors see a lot of teens who “get caught up in some of the poisonous part of our culture and, so trying to work with them and keep them intact with their family is one of our great challenges today.”

The old philosophy, Day said, was that donated land was “kind of a future site for a home. But it’s just difficult to support them administratively when they’re disconnected to the main campus,” he said. This past year, he said, staff members traveled more than 350,000 miles.

“So, economics is just forcing us to try to have a smaller footprint,” Day said. “So, rather than planting homes in various places, we’re planting the counseling centers in various places because they don’t require as much administrative support, maintenance, those kind of things. And we’re centralizing the kids to the main campus just for efficiency reasons and we’ve got to find ways to stretch the dollars.”

Day said Farmville “gave us a great deal” and “worked hard for us to get going there and that’s why we want to let the Town of Farmville know that we’re going to stay there and continue to invest in that community.”

Patrick Henry Family Services, according to its website, is a non-profit, interdenominational Christian ministry that has served children and families for 50 years. Last year, Day said, the ministry took care of 57 children.