ECCH renovating former church camp as new foster care space in Chatham

Posted 3/8/19

SILER CITY — Extensive renovations are underway at a former Methodist campground near Siler City, which will soon take on a new purpose as a home for children in foster care.

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ECCH renovating former church camp as new foster care space in Chatham

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SILER CITY — Extensive renovations are underway at a former Methodist campground near Siler City, which will soon take on a new purpose as a home for children in foster care.

Founded in North Wilkesboro in 1994, Ebenezer Christian Children’s Home acquired the 50-acre property off Piney Grove Church Road in 2017 with the goal, said Jean Davis, the non-profit organization’s executive director, of turning it into their seventh home for foster children in North Carolina.

It’s their first in Chatham County and the organization’s first outside Wilkes County.

The organization also operates Ebenezer’s Attic, a thrift store with a location in Siler City (218 East 11th St.) that raises funds through its sales to support the organization’s work.

“There are over 10,000 children in foster care in North Carolina,” Davis said. “There’s a great need for more foster homes and group homes. Our goal is if children can’t be reunited with their families, we can help find loving homes for these children.”

Children enter foster care in situations where the Department of Social Services has investigated and determined that allegations of abuse, neglect or dependency are substantiated. When looking at foster care, DSS aims to place children in the least-disruptive situation possible, frequently with family or kin, keeping siblings together, and keeping children in their community and their current school, said Jennie Kristiansen, director of DSS in Chatham County.

As of January, 85 children were in foster care in Chatham County, Kristiansen said.

“Our numbers have been picking up over the last couple of years,” the DSS director said.

Of Ebenezer’s new presence in Chatham, Kristiansen said it’s beneficial to have more foster care availability.

“I think having a wide array of options for kids is always a good thing,” she said.

The dormitory-style house on the Piney Grove Church Road property is spacious enough to house nine children in foster care, and four house parents, Davis said.

The residence is surrounded by expansive open grassy areas where children can play, a pond (which will be fenced for safety), an old chicken coup and a covered concrete pavilion.

Work, somewhat delayed by recent heavy rain, is underway on the property.

“Our goal is to be able to remodel and furnish the home so it will be ready to receive children by summer of 2019,” said Davis. “The home will provide a safe and beautiful place for children to laugh play and dream.”

When renovations are complete, the house will maintain an open floor plan downstairs, with a large kitchen and dining room, a great room, a study and offices.

The second floor will have nine bedrooms, each with a bathroom, for children and two rooms for house parents. The upstairs will also include a living room area for the children to relax and socialize and a laundry room.

Ebenezer has been working closely with Beulah Baptist Church in Bennett, whose congregation has raised money to help Ebenezer complete its home in Chatham County. Dr. Neal Jackson, pastor at Beulah Baptist Church, has been helpful with the construction process.

Davis said that while Ebenezer’s Christian Children’s Home has helped children in foster care from many counties, the Chatham County home is the first the group has built and will operate outside of its normal mountain region.

Davis said the group’s first foray outside Wilkes County, and into Chatham County, had its beginnings a couple of years ago.

“It’s a God story,” Davis said.

After suffering a stroke two years ago, Davis was out of work, recuperating, and spending a lot of time “reflecting on my life.”

“I thought I was being prepared to leave this world,” she said.

But God had other plans and made her aware of them, she said.

“He said ‘I’m not done with you yet,’” she said, saying she was led to look outside Wilkes County to establish another Ebenezer foster home.

“God told me to go east,” Davis said. “But I didn’t know where to go. I knew nothing about Siler City.”

Soon, however, she and other Ebenezer board members learned about the “beautiful, relaxing piece of property” for sale off Piney Grove Church Road, which Ebenezer began working to acquire.

Two years later, work is well underway and Davis said the new foster home should be open and operating this summer.

When she joined the Ebenezer board, she said she “never planned to go past the first home.”

Now she’s about to see the completion of their seventh home.

But before opening the local home, more work remains, Davis said, not only finishing the remodeling in Siler City but also furnishing the new living quarters. Needs include kitchenware, small kitchen appliances, linens, furniture, gravel for the driveway and a van, among other items.

For this, Ebenezer is seeking more community support.

In recent weeks, Davis has been busy meeting folks in Chatham County, and becoming better acquainted with the Siler City she’d barely heard of two years ago.

She’s spoken to Rotary and other civic organizations, spreading word about Ebenezer’s plans in Chatham County and their ongoing efforts to provide quality foster care.

“I’ve found a lot of loving, very supportive people in Chatham County,” she said.

To find out more about how you can become a foster family or help with Ebenezer’s furnishing needs, Davis encourages those interested to visit their website,, or contact them through Facebook.

Ebenezer’s next foster parent class starts this week

Ebenezer Christian Children’s Home is offering foster parent classes starting March 7 at Beulah Baptist Church in Bennett.

Completing the Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) class is the first step towards becoming a licensed foster parent.

“We are looking for families who will take in these children, give them a safe place to call home, and will share the love of Jesus with them,” states an Ebenezer brochure on their MAPP classes.

Last October, Ebenezer conducted its most recent MAPP class, with eight families completing the 30 hours of classroom lecture and activities, paperwork and background checks to become licensed foster parents.

Those interested in participating in the classes should call Tracy Jackson, class coordinator, at 850-777-9443 or call Beulah Baptist Church at 336-581-3121.


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