The Future Across the Street

Baptist Children’s Homes

Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina offers support, safety and stability to children, families, single mothers and aging adults. It has grown over the decades from its historic roots as an orphanage to an organization offering a variety of programs proven to strengthen the well-being of children and families.

Today, people in need find love, understanding, meals, housing, educational opportunities, access to health care, mentoring, counseling and connections to other social services and community resources through 30 locations across North Carolina. Since 2020, the organization has licensed more than 380 foster homes serving more than 800 children across the state. Some 96 percent were reunited with family, adopted or otherwise placed with a family after exiting foster care.

Rachel, a young woman living at the Odum Home location in Pembroke, N.C., is one of those clients. She came to Baptist Children’s Homes seeking refuge, and found safety, guidance and mentorship. A new vision of her future began to unfold during her participation in a program called Independent Living that prepares young women to transition back into the community as adults.

“This place changed my life. One, through the support that they gave me. Two, the safety. And three, the ability to further my education. That set me up for life.”

Rachel, Odum House resident

Today, Rachel studies for a college degree in nursing at University of North Carolina - Pembroke, a campus that is directly across the street from her Odum Home cottage.

“Going into Odum Home, I did not imagine that I was going to go on to have a college education. But being in the Independent Living program affirmed for me that that was something that I wanted to do, and that it was something that I needed to do, to feel fulfilled with myself,” Rachel says.

Rachel shares her small living space with a small group of young women who are on their own paths to more hopeful tomorrows. Together, they have found not just a safe haven, but an empowering start.

“This place changed my life,” says Rachel, whose full name was withheld to protect her privacy. “One, through the support that they gave to me. Two, through the safety here. And three, the ability to further my education. That set me up for life.”

Odum Home Director Kathy Locklear has just completed her 25th year of service in Baptist Children’s Homes, marking a milestone in a life of building trust and providing stability, guidance and love to young women like Rachel.

As a native of the Pembroke area, Locklear is familiar with the trauma, violence, neglect or abandonment that many young women face in this, and other, rural communities. In rural towns and communities like Pembroke, it can be hard to find supportive services and safe short-term refuges in moments of crisis.

“This is a rural area,” she says. “By helping us be able to help the kids, it helps everybody that’s involved. It’s vital that people see these rural communities (as) worthy of that support.”

Rachel and the other young women at Odum Home will soon earn their college degrees. Asked if she feels prepared for what’s next, Rachel responds: “Yes. I feel like a leader now. Odum Home and nursing school have brought that out in me.”

Learn more about Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina.

Baptist Childrens Homes Pembroke