Thornhill Farm a haven for developmentally disabled

CHARLESTON — Healing Farm Ministries is a Christ-centered, not-for-profit corporation serving individuals and families affected by developmental disabilities. According to a press release from the organization, its mission is to establish faith communities in which people with developmental disabilities and the people who care for them can grow together as part of the Body of Christ. This broad mission includes establishing lifelong homes for people with developmental disabilities.

The need is great and growing, according to Healing Farm Ministries (HFM). The state is currently facing a crisis with regard to housing (and programs) for adults with developmental disabilities. Critical government funding has stagnated, affecting not only the number of spaces available in government group homes, but also the quality of care and the option of choice.

The South Carolina Division of Special Needs says there are 2,797 people over 55 years of age who are responsible for the care of an adult with developmental disabilities in their home.

At the other end of the age spectrum, 1 of every 266 children is born with autism. Many require residential placements even before they become adults.

Although many group homes exist, there is already a huge waiting list for beds in this state. Unless their parents die or the disabled adults exhibit severe behaviors, they remain with their aging parents.

There is hope. HFM is pleased to announce that its first farm has been purchased. It is a picturesque 100-acre farm just outside of McClellanville on Highway 17. It has a four-bedroom house and two guest cottages as well as a lovely lake.

It is HFM’s goal that the farm will become an active part of the local community (with greenhouses, art workshops, festivals and camps), raise awareness of the needs of the developmentally disabled, demonstrate their ability to contribute positively to society, and emphasize their God-ordained importance to any community.

Over the course of a year, hundreds of adults and children will be served in day care, respite, therapeutic and recreational programs.

HFM anticipates housing over 20 adults at the farm — four to six adults with disabilities and as many caring adults will live as a family in each of several houses on the farm. No large institution will ever be permitted.

Healing Farm Ministries also anticipates using funds raised to develop other farms and open additional housing “off campus,” within the local communities.

Healing Farm Ministries hopes that Thornhill Farm will become a place that churches of all denominations will include in their ministry plans — a place to work, worship and break bread alongside people with developmental disabilities, and a quiet place for retreats and special gatherings.

Get involved

Contact Healing Farm Ministries Inc., P.O. Box 12810, Charleston, SC 29422; (843) 722-0000.