Local Christian Home seeks support
By Lynn J. Richardson
With the coming of the holiday season, also comes a special plea from a local children’s home which is seeking the community’s support.
The East Tennessee Christian Home & Academy has launched its annual GIVE THANKS Campaign, and director Ron Marvel says he is hopeful that people in the area will “dig a bit deeper” into their pockets to support the home which serves young girls.
This year’s goal is $50,000.
“We are asking for the community’s support now and ongoing throughout the year to meet the rising costs of operation,” Marvel said. “As you can imagine, the Covid-19 pandemic has stretched our resources and energies but we are as committed as ever during these difficult times to share the gospel and help at-risk children and their families.”
During the past two years, the organization has served 25 young girls and has seen nine baptisms in both their residential and aftercare programs.
In 2004 the State of Tennessee “red-flagged” the Home’s contract for their strong church attendance policy. It was then that the organization’s board and leadership made the difficult decision to stop receiving state funds.
“Even though it has been difficult, we have remained steadfast in the decision and lives have been forever changed,” Marvel said.
One such life is 15-year-old “Ashe” who recently made a decision to follow Christ.
“She is already sharing her faith with her friends and family,” Marvel said. “The changes that we have seen are not only outward — apparent to our staff but also to the professionals such as her pediatrician — but also inward. We are excited to see God work in her life.”
East Tennessee Christian Home and Academy was started in 1946 after Preacher Fred Smith of First Christian Church in Elizabethton witnessed a local judge placing children in jail because they did not have a family to provide for them. With no facility in the community to care for them, Smith and a leadership board of 14 members opened ETCHA on a beautiful 18-acre property that overlooks the surrounding mountains and valleys.
During the past 74 years, the ministry has seen many changes. Smith served as the Supervisor and First Christian Church was the sole financial supporter. Later other Christian Churches and Churches of Christ were invited to make financial donations and others were hired to provide administrative leadership.
Now the organization is under the direction of Marvel and his wife, Melissa Marvel. ETCHA is a 501(c)3 organization and every dollar is tax-deductible, Marvel says.
Anyone wishing to make a donation may send a check to: ETCHA, P.O. Box 1147, Elizabethton, TN 37644 or you may donate online through PayPal at etcha.org.