First new residents move to Hope for Children campus

By Staff
FINISHING TOUCHES Bill Dyess, left, and Mike Ponder put up blinds Saturday in the renovated Hope for Children cottage, where children from Peavey House will move Monday. Photo by Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
August 5, 2001
With bags packed and a renovated cottage awaiting their arrival, eight children from Peavey House children's shelter on Monday will become the first new residents on the campus of Hope for Children.
Officials herald the move as a significant step on a long road to develop a permanent residence for abused and neglected children at the former Masonic Home site on 23rd Avenue in Meridian.
Founded by Lauderdale County native and Emmy Award winning actress Sela Ward and funded by a variety of interests, including the Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation, local leaders believe the facility will fill a community need by offering permanent residency for abused kids. The concept of developing an orphanage for the 21st century may even be extended nationwide at some point.
Knowing that move-in day was approaching, Ponder said a wave of community support has come forward during the past two weeks to get the cottage ready.
On Friday, for example, volunteers from Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center as part of the United Way's Day of Caring helped prepare the cottage for the children's arrival. Volunteers assembled beds, moved other items and stored supplies and food.
Peavey House, founded by Meridian businessman Hartley Peavey and his late wife, Melia, was designed as a temporary shelter for abused children. By essentially transferring its location to the Hope for Children campus, it will now be able to offer longer term residence and a variety of enhanced programs to help nurture the children.
Tina Dyess, executive director of Peavey House, said the cottage is being leased by Peavey House.
Late in the development process, officials discovered that the name "Hope for Children" was already taken by a group in Georgia, so it is likely that the name of the facility will have to change.
Ponder sought suggestions from people in the Meridian area community and elsewhere and literally hundreds of have come in. One such suggestion, "Hope Village" has gained special attention, although Ponder said no final decisions have yet been made.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail