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Drake Bassett is the president and CEO of Palmer Home for Children.

It’s been a year of transition for the Palmer Home for Children, as the residential home for youngsters this year merged campuses in Columbus and Hernando to a single location outside of Hernando. 

Palmer Home has existed for more than 125 years as a safe place for youngsters who need to address specific situations, said CEO Drake Bassett, who added the transition of residents from Columbus to Hernando this year has gone well.

“I don’t think we can be any happier with how this has gone,” Bassett said. “Our children have acclimated very quickly to the new campus and the new area. They’ve found their place, their home, their bed.”

Palmer Home, which started in 1895 in Columbus, is a donation-based nonprofit organization that offers campus care, foster care, family care, and transitional care for its residents set to enter adult life.

Officials announced the move of children from Columbus to Hernando as a move taking its mission “in a different direction,” but added there were plans already in place at the time for an expansion of the Hernando facility. The expansion included the construction of a new building called the Dr. Hugh Francis Wellness Center at the Hernando location.

Three new cottages were also built in 2017 for a total of six at the Hernando home. There are plans to add more cottages in the future, as Palmer Home officials said in its merger announcement earlier this year.

Bassett said plans continue to have the Wellness Center occupied and in operation later in 2020.

“We’re already moving dirt and we’re putting some infrastructure in place so that by spring we’re going to construct the building,” Bassett noted. “Our goal is to be completed by the fall of next year.”

The Wellness Center is being constructed to be the “center” of the Palmer Home community.

“It’s a place on our campus where children can gather and go for counseling and educational support,” Bassett said. “We’ll have the capabilities of a gymnasium and eventfully a swimming pool for the summer. If someone wants to name a classroom, or some portion of the Wellness Center, they can certainly reach out to us and talk with us about substantial capital gifts.”

As a donation-based, Christian operation, the Palmer Home constantly looks for donor partnership for support, and is promoting more donations as 2019 ends.

“It’s really about them coming alongside of us,” Bassett explained. “They do that by giving us financial gifts, gifts in kind, they give of their time. I believe our donor base prays for us, and that means everything.”

The donor base covers a $6 million annual budget for the Palmer Home.

“We run a campus that allows children to be in the presence of house parents and at a home where they can stabilize and enjoy what it is like to be a child and go to school,” Bassett said.

More on the Palmer Home for Children may be found at www.palmerhome.org.

Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.