The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 10, 2013

Special gift

The Register-Herald

— Just two weeks after Burlington United Methodist Family Services celebrated its 100th birthday, the Cline Family Foundation stepped forward with a delightfully appropriate present.

The $250,000 donation from the Cline Family Foundation was followed by a pledge of $100,000 from the Greg and Darlene Darby Family Trust and Little General Stores.

That money will be used by Burlington to finally fulfill what had been a dream since 1961: a chapel for the charity’s Beckley campus.

“When the campus started here in 1961, (campus founder) Virgil Cook had a dream to have the cottages, a gym, a school and a chapel,” said Burlington CEO Sheila Walker. “The chapel is the last piece of the puzzle and that was Virgil’s dream. He handed the dream down to us.”

We commend the Cline Family Foundation and the Greg and Darlene Darby Family Trust and Little General Stores for committing to the project. Burlington intends to raise matching funds to pay for the full cost of the chapel.

To us, it seems the generous spirit of these donors is a perfect way to commemorate and honor a century of philanthropy that has made a significant impact on the lives of so many residents of southern West Virginia.

Originally intended to help meet the needs of children of poor families, Burlington was initially an orphanage. Over the course of decades, it has broadened the scope of its good works to provide domestic and international adoption services, birth parent counseling, specialized foster care, youth services and more.

In 1995, what was the Beckley Child Care Center became part of Burlington’s expanding scope of charitable and social works, providing services to a large portion of southern West Virginia.

Funding for Burlington’s good works comes from our communities, our businesses, churches and other charitable organizations, as well as service contracts with the state.

But it is fitting, we think, that the funds for the chapel are coming from private charities, like the Cline Family Foundation and the Darby Family Trust and Little General. And of course the donations Burlington will be raising to match the donations pledged last week.

“I went away to school and we had a chapel at our school,” said Candice Kenan, daughter of foundation founder Chris Cline. “We gathered at the chapel for various purposes. To this day it’s one of the most meaningful memories that I have from when I went off to school. I’m really excited for the Beckley campus to have this opportunity to have those experiences as well.”

For so long, families and children beset by poverty in the state and region were helped by private charities such as Burlington long before governmental aid programs were available on any major scale. Christian charity existed long before state largesse.

We find part of Burlington’s mission statement, Jeremiah 29:11, to be entirely appropriate to what it has provided southern West Virginia for the past 100 years.

“For I know what I have planned for you,” says the Lord. “I have planned to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.”

Thanks to the Cline and Darby family trusts and Little General, we expect that message and that mission to continue for another century for Burlington United Methodist Family Services.

And our future, too, is one filled with hope.