The Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) broke ground June 27 for a new building that will expand the organization’s outreach to children and families. Located on the Mills Home campus in Thomasville, The Bob and Carolyn Tucker Greater Vision Ministry Center is the result of a $1-million gift from Bob and Carolyn Tucker of Concord, longtime North Carolina Baptists, BCH supporters and founders of the nation’s largest independent shoe retailer, Shoe Show, Inc.
BR photo by K. Allan Blume
Members of the Tucker family join with Michael Blackwell, center, president of Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, to break ground on a new ministry center focused on outreach.
“The Tucker family has a rich history of showing their commitment to giving back out of their great success by finding substantial ways to engage and impact the community,” said Michael C. Blackwell, BCH president/CEO. “We are both grateful and humbled by their incredible gift which will allow Baptist Children’s Homes to provide new and meaningful family services through this center.”
Blackwell explained that the goal is to utilize the center as an outreach hub to the surrounding area and ultimately to families across North Carolina. “This is a natural progression of what BCH has been doing since it was established 130 years ago,” Blackwell said. “This new program allows us to enhance our reach into the community by offering resources and educational programs to edify and strengthen families.”
Although BCH has not fully developed the new center’s strategy, Blackwell said it will be a method of outreach that will begin in the Triad and eventually spread to all 100 counties of the state. It will provide food and health care for children.
He said many will come to the center because they are physically hungry and emotionally starved. But many are also spiritually depraved. “This center is going to minister to all of those needs,” he added. The eternal salvation of every person is paramount in the center’s ministry.
“The Tucker Center will set new standards for service and ministry,” Blackwell said. “[It] will reflect the entrepreneurial spirit of both the Baptist Children’s Homes and the Tucker family … We will demonstrate that there is a better way to a better life, and we will show through the Tucker Center … how to achieve that better way and that better life.”
He said Shoe Show’s hallmarks of integrity and imagination will be reflected in the center’s work.
“This Tucker Center is going to be a holistic ministry of body, mind and spirit. Yes, word will spread of the success of the culture of excellence BCH now embodies.”
Speaking for the family at the groundbreaking, Carolyn Tucker said the family has two simple guidelines for their gifts. The first is drawn from Mark 12:29-31 where Jesus explained the greatest commandment is to “love God with all of your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.”
She explained that the family’s second giving guideline is based on the “last will and testament of Jesus” in Matthew 28:18-20, which is to “go and make disciples.”
“Those guidelines are simple,” she concluded, “love God, love your neighbor and go make disciples. Baptist Children’s Homes fulfills all of those. I’ve come to trust that they are very faithful stewards of your gifts.”
In a surprise announcement at the close of the ceremony, Bob Tucker said, “Between now and the dedication [of the building], I will match everything you give up to half-a-million dollars.”
Blackwell sees the Greater Vision Center as a means for strengthening existing partnerships as well as establishing new ones.
“This is an invitation for organizations, businesses, churches and others to join us in this new endeavor,” Blackwell said. “We desire for Greater Vision to unite people who possess a passion for using their expertise and resources to shape our community.”
The Tucker donation not only paves the way for the resource center, but it is also making renovations possible at two other facilities located at the Mills Home campus. Funds are being used to convert a dormant facility into an office building for BCH’s Programs and Services Department, which manages the daily operations of the nonprofit’s statewide services.
Blackwell said the restorations will allow that department’s current office building, which was a former residential cottage, to be reopened for serving children. “This gives us the capacity to care for even more children,” he said.
BCH started in Thomasville in 1885 as an orphanage but has evolved to include ministries to the whole family. It is one of the largest child care organizations in the southeast operating in 20 communities throughout the state.
They provide residential homes to North Carolina children who come from a variety of challenging circumstances ranging from family dysfunction to abuse, neglect and abandonment. BCH also offers services for adults with developmental disabilities, senior adults and single mothers.
Restorations for the new office building have already begun. Construction on the resource center is scheduled to begin later this summer.
“The creation of the Greater Vision Ministry Center is historic for Baptist Children’s Homes,” Blackwell said, “It is an opportunity to take our organizational vision of ‘sharing hope…changing lives’ to the next level – a greater level.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Some information from a press release by J. Blake Ragsdale, director of communications for the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, was used in this article.)