We Give Hope


Zeke Case is a musician, a spoken word artist, and an engaging young man who sits at ease at a picnic table on the rolling lawn of the Thornwell social services organization in the rural community of Clinton, S.C. Zeke, who has just finished a shift at his nearby job, dropped by to say hello to friends and Thornwell staff he thinks of as a trusted family. “Thornwell gives a sense of belonging when you have none,” he says.

Count him among the most recent of thousands of youth and children who have come to Thornwell (formerly Thornwell Home for Children) at a time of disruption in their lives. With a mission to ​​”prevent child abuse and neglect, build up and reunite families, and support healthy communities in the name of Jesus Christ,” this institution that began as an orphanage in 1875 has changed, even as it changes lives.

“I know that if Thornwell had not come into my life, my life would’ve been over very soon, at a very young age. I would have made some really bad decisions. Because that’s the road I was on,” recounts Tasha Seymore, a Thornwell alumnus and volunteer.

While their birthdays may be a few decades apart, Case and Seymore share a love for Thornwell and its community, which they credit with strengthening them on their journeys to promising futures. The words they use to describe their experience are familiar to those connected to Thornwell: nurturing, encouraging, enriching and advocating. Services given with love and knowledge.

“We give hope. I know to my core, we give families hope,” says Thornwell Executive Vice President Lindy Scott.

Behind that enduring hope today is a unique cycle of programs called the Continuum of Care. It includes foster and residential care, family care, child development and academic services, as well as a transitional living program.

“Thornwell gives a sense of belonging when you have none. I wouldn’t be doing the things I’m doing, meeting the people I’m meeting, given the opportunities that I have without Thornwell.”

Zeke Case, Thornwell community member

Thornwell Zeke

The Duke Endowment’s support of Thornwell, from decades past to today, embraces the reality that no single program or service can meet all the needs of children and their families. Proven programs such as the Building Families program give families, youth and children emotional, mental and parenting skills that build trust and empower them to thrive together. Last year, Thornwell served 1,802 children and families through Building Families, with an 86 percent graduation rate.

The Rev. Myron Wilkins, CEO of Thornwell, thinks a great deal about the history and future of the beloved institution he leads. “Children are the most needed and vulnerable part of our society,” he says, “and we owe it as a responsibility to give them what they need to grow and thrive. So if they think nothing else of Thornwell, they will know that Thornwell existed for the child.”

Learn more about Thornwell.

Thornwell group