First, John and Emaline Bashor built a church! The generous couple, whose vision established a foundation for what is now Bashor Children's Home, had roots deep in the Wesleyan tradition. Truly, they did "all the good they could, by all the means they could in all the ways they could."
A generation before the Bashor Deaconess Orphanage welcomed its first young men, Bashor Methodist Episcopal Chapel served Harrison Township farm families. John and Emaline set the cornerstone personally in 1892.
Walk around the northeast corner of the campus and you'll come across the remains of the foundation. Unfortunately, the small chapel succumbed to the economic challenges of the Great Depression.
While the building may be gone, the Methodist tradition is as strong as ever. Whenever Bashor has faced a challenge, the church has been there to answer. As the agency continues its "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow" campaign, the North Indiana United Methodist Conference, its congregations and its membership will once again be asked to play a major role.
"We stepped out in faith," says Don Phillips, who is in his eighth year as Bashor's President and CEO. "All you have to do is look at our history. The church and its people have always been willing to meet the need when we put it out. It was true when we started as an orphanage (1923); it was true when we built the cottages (1969); and it was especially true when we needed the new Secure building."
Phillips pointed to the Lung/Stull Building, completed in 1997 with a tremendous boost from churches and individuals. United Methodists set the pace in a $2 million project that now provides 16 beds in a secure setting and is the foundation for the FAITH residential continuum. The building also provides group rooms, treatment rooms and staff offices.
"We have been very blessed in the beginning stages of our fundraising drive," says Vince Turner, vice president of development and public relations. "Several benevolent families in the Goshen area got us off to a good start, allowing us to break ground and start construction. Now we're taking our case to the churches in Indiana who have been such a vital part of our ministry in the past. We truly believe they will be a part of our future as well."
Giving opportunities divided into three areas:
Evan Bergwall Memorial Wing
This section of the new building will be named for the former community activist and chairman of the Board of Directors who chaired the fund drive for the original school building. Four churches will be asked to step forward and sponsor an individual classroom. First United Methodist Church of Goshen has already claimed one of those rooms.
A ring of commemorative plaques will circle the new, 250-set dining hall. "Our hope here is that people will enter the dining hall and be overwhelmed by the diversity of support," says Turner. "We hope to see plaques recognizing churches from Crown Point to Winchester, from Fort Wayne to Lafayette and everywhere in between."
This will be a brick path leading to the main entrance of the Community Resource Center. The bricks will serve as permanent memorials and honorariums and may be for individuals, families, churches or circles.
The church portion of the "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow" campaign is being led by five pastors currently serving on Bashor's Board of Directors - the Rev. Steve Conner of Fort Wayne Church of the Covenant UMC, the Rev. Rick Taylor of Rochester Grace UMC, the Rev. Arch Hawkins of University UMC in Indianapolis, current Michiana District Superintendent the Rev. Bob Dexter and retired Marion District Superintendent the Rev. Dan Motto. The goal is to raise $500,000 in gifts and three-year pledges.
For more information about the campaign, contact Vince Turner at 574-875-5117 or firstname.lastname@example.org. An informational DVD is available. Members of the team also will visit churches, groups or individuals by request.
"We had two choices, say no to kids or do this," says Phillips, who noted Bashor now serves an average of more than 100 residents and students each day, an increase of nearly 50 percent during the past six years. Those young people have come from 27 Indiana counties during that time span.
"We have grown because we don't just care for children and their families, we care about children and their families. We know others care just as much. We believe they'll join us," Phillips said.