Commitments Kept and a Promise for the Future
I am thrilled to continue saying, “Thank you!”
All of us at Methodist are filled with gratitude to all of you across Louisiana, and especially in Southeast Louisiana, who have helped us keep our commitment to the children and families in Greater New Orleans.
Today, the new Methodist Children’s Home of Southeast Louisiana is filled with life! We opened the doors to children on February 24, 2022. The halls are lively with laughter and excited children. The beautiful facilities are located on 126 peaceful acres on Highway 445, six miles north of I-12.
Opening Methodist Children’s Home of Southeast Louisiana (MCHSELA) fulfilled our promise to build a children’s home in the Greater New Orleans area. The new facility is a testament to the generosity of Louisiana’s citizens and their intention that good things happen for children and families!
To that promise, we added our own desire that the new campus will become the foundation for all our services to children and families in southeast Louisiana during our next 100 years of ministry. We chose land, designed, and built with the next century of ministry in mind.
Already we are preparing to build the regional offices for Methodist Foster Care and our Life Skills Training Center near the entrance to the campus on Hwy 445. The blueprints are complete, the site is selected, and our financial campaign continues so we can fund the final amount for the completed buildings and the construction of the next building.
Many know our commitment to building MCHSELA goes back to Hurricane Katrina, but the seed of that commitment was first planted in 1886. That was when fourteen-year-old Susie arrived in New Orleans to be a maid for a ship captain’s wife.
Almost immediately, the captain and his wife left New Orleans for South America, and they left Susie on the street to fend for herself. Desperate to find her daughter, Susie’s mother in Philadelphia wrote letters to New Orleans Mayor Joseph Guillotte. She purchased ads in newspapers seeking help to find her daughter, who was lost in New Orleans.
Mrs. M. M. Wolfe, the city missionary associated with Prytania Avenue Presbyterian Church, had seen the newspaper ad. She found Susie in the 1000-bed Charity Hospital with her baby.
Mrs. Wolfe wrote, “I found her in the Hospital. By her side was lying a newly born babe. She was a child-mother fifteen years old.”
Susie’s baby died. Mrs. Wolfe took Susie to her home on Prytania Avenue. Mrs. Wolfe set a cot in her living room. She cared for Susie until she was well enough to return by train to her family in Philadelphia.
The experience with Susie and her baby inspired Mrs. Wolfe to do more. Soon she had rescued six girls and their babies. Every room of the Missionary’s house was filled with girls and babies who would have been lost to the streets.
Mrs. Wolfe and her friends continued rescuing girls from Charity Hospital and soon directly from the streets. Their work of ministry grew and outgrew the home on Prytania avenue. Then, their work grew into and outgrew the Second Street Mission.
Next, the ministry moved into a donated home on Tulane Avenue and was named “Memorial Home for Young Women” during the dedication service. Finally, the ministry outgrew the house on Tulane Avenue and moved to a 14-room building at 803 Washington Avenue, given “by a mother in memory of her daughter.”
In 1918, during the second and most deadly wave of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1920, with only two girls and one baby in care and facing dissolution due to “meagre finances,” Memorial Home for Young Women was offered to the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Church. The offer was accepted by the Methodist Conference in November 1918. The reinvigorated ministry was renamed “Memorial Mercy Home Hospital” and grew.
In 1952 the name changed to “Methodist Home Hospital” and became “Methodist Home for Children of New Orleans” in 1973. Methodist Home for Children of New Orleans developed an Emergency Shelter program for children, a residential treatment program, and a Therapeutic Foster Care service. Many of us remember the Home of Washington Avenue.
Then, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina ended our operations in New Orleans. The Home in New Orleans joined with Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services to continue operations on the Northshore.
We committed to continue our ministry in southeast Louisiana. We committed to build a children’s home in southeast Louisiana. We committed to building it to be the foundation of our next 100 years of ministry in the most populous region of Louisiana.
Today, after caring for children in a temporary space for 17 years, Methodist Children’s Home of Southeast Louisiana finally has a permanent Home!
In keeping our many commitments, we are also making an important promise.
The promise? We promise to continue pursuing our Mission: We guide children and families home to experience God’s love by following the teachings of Christ.
With the opening of our third campus in southeast Louisiana, our organization has established a significant foundation for ministry in the bootstrap, heel, and toe of our state. Of course, the needs of children and families are different than they were 120 years ago, and our services have changed through the years to meet the concurrent needs.
This past year, we provided more care to more children than in any previous year. I know what we are doing today. However, I cannot tell you what services our organization will provide in 100 years. No one knows, but in this uncertain time and during all the uncertainty the future holds, I can affirm our promise to the children and families of southeast Louisiana: we will pursue our Mission.
I began with “Thank You!” and I will end with “Thank You!” More than anyone, I am aware that the success of our current work and the future of all we will do is possible because of individuals like you who believe that children deserve goodness, that well-being is their right, and that their opportunities to thrive benefit our future.
I know you understand the story of love’s impact for good in the lives of children. With this new Home, we are all making a promise to Louisiana’s children and families. We have a lot of work to do and love to share – All of Us – and I am grateful for your continued participation and support.
President & CEO
Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services