The Presbyterian Children’s Home and Services of Missouri will be celebrating an iconic moment this summer when they commemorate their 100-year anniversary with a reunion today.
“Since it was the anniversary of the Home, the agency thought a reunion would be a nice thing,” said Debra Paulus, the development officer for the PCHAS. “We are going to have the current residents serve the former residents and let them have a fellowship about their experience.”
The reunion will get its kickoff during the annual Country Days parade with a float decked with 100-year old signage and a group of former residents riding down Columbia Street.
“The agency does have a float every year,” said Paulus. “But this year is much more important because of the 100-year anniversary and the former residents riding on the float.”
The afternoon festivities will begin at 4 p.m. with dinner. This will be a time from friends and former residents to renew old friendships and reminisce about days gone by.
For those who spent their youth at the home, the reunion is a chance to reconnect with their friends, some of whom they have not seen since they left years ago.
Ida Dawson Taylor’s life has come full circle. She and her siblings grew up living at the home. She stayed at the girls’ dormitories as a child and is currently living in the same room she grew up in since its conversion to the Parkland Senior Apartments.
“Part of my living room in my apartment was part of our living room when I lived here before, and the bathroom was my bedroom,” said Taylor. “When we had a reunion in 2012, some who came could not believe the big change.”
As far as the reunion, Taylor is quite excited about the prospect of seeing many of her old friends and former dorm mates.
“There are three girls who lived here in the 1930s and haven’t seen it since they left,” said Taylor. “They keep emailing me and telling me how excited they are about attending the reunion. When they were here last there was only one building.”
As times changed so did the circumstances for the children being placed in the home. In 1914 the home was designed to take in children with parents who had died in mining accidents or from Tuberculosis.
Later, as the Great Depression had the world in its grip, some children were left because their parents could no longer tend to them.
However, this is no longer the case. The majority of today’s residents are wards of the state who were removed from their home due to violence or drugs.
“The children today come from horrific environments,” said Paulus. “They are wards of the state. The days of orphanages are by-gone. But we do have an 88 percent success rate of children who leave here (becoming) productive members of society.”
For more information on today’s reunion contact Debra Paulus at 314-227-4545
Craig Vaughn is a reporter with the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or at firstname.lastname@example.org