Learn about the History of the Children’s Shelter
The Nancy K. Perry Children’s Shelter was established as a not-for-profit, 501 c(3) organization in 1972 to serve the community by providing temporary emergency care for the protection of abused, neglected, abandoned or otherwise exploited children of the County of Lexington.
The Shelter opened its doors as Welcome Home, Inc., on December 2, 1972, operating under the direction of the Family Court. This was the first facility of its type in the South Carolina.
Initially the shelter facility was a World War II barracks that was donated by the Opportunity School and moved to a location in downtown Lexington to the site of the present County Administration Building. The barracks was totally renovated, primarily through the work of volunteers. The Shelter received a small appropriation from the county delegation for operations. Governor West declared December 2, 1972 as Welcome Home Day. Opening ceremonies were held that day and the family court immediately began placing children under the shelter’s care.
In 1974, Lexington County, using primarily prison labor, constructed a new building for the shelter because the original site was needed for a new County Administration Building. Located behind the Law Enforcement Complex on Gibson Road, the new Shelter was intended to meet the programs long-term needs.In 1990 it was necessary to leave that location because of the expansion of the law enforcement complex. The Shelter leased a house in the Lexington area as temporary quarters and because of space limitations was forced to decrease the number of children who could be served at any given time from fourteen to five.
The Board of Trustees embarked on a capital campaign to construct a purpose-built facility. An intensive public awareness effort began and approximately $230,000 was raised within two years. The balance of the approximately $300,000 needed for the construction was borrowed by the Board (and repaid in about three years!) Carroll, Ted and LuRue McGee donated approximately 2.6 acres of land as the site for the new shelter.
The building was dedicated on February 14, 1993 as The Nancy K. Perry Children’s Shelter, a decision made by the Board of Trustees in 1991 to honor the long-time involvement of Mrs. Perry as a volunteer, houseparent, and executive director. Mrs. Perry is seen below in a 2002 photograph with her grandaughter.
In January 2000, a new administrative annex was added to the Shelter. This new wing included a conference room, kitchen, and offices for the executive director and two other staff members. The first full time executive director for the Shelter was hired on April 1, 2002, and a new chapter in the Shelter’s history began.
There have been many changes over the past 30 years, but through it all the Shelter has remained dedicated to community involvement and support, quality care, and cost effective operations. With the support of the citizens of Lexington County, we look forward to serving many other children and helping turn their difficult past into promising futures by providing services and unconditional love.
TO COMMEND MRS. NANCY K. PERRY, OF LEXINGTON COUNTY, FOR HER EXCELLENCE AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF SOUTH CAROLINA CHILDREN’S HOME AND FAMILY SERVICES, AND TO EXPRESS THE GRATITUDE OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY FOR HER MANY YEARS OF SERVICE TO THE CHILDREN AND FAMILIES OF THIS GREAT STATE
Whereas, with dignity and excellence, Mrs. Nancy K. Perry, of Lexington County, for twenty-nine years has been a champion for the welfare of South Carolina’s children and families, from 1978 to 2002 as executive director of the Nancy K. Perry Children’s Shelter, Inc., and since 1994 as executive director of South Carolina Children’s Home and Family Services; and
Whereas, not one to neglect her civic duty, Nancy Perry further gives of herself as a member of Southeastern Child Care Association, Emergency Shelter Network, Mental Health Association in South Carolina, Lexington Junior Women’s Club, Child Welfare League of America, South Carolina Fair Share, and Voices for South Carolina Children. In addition, she has been appointed to the Juvenile Justice Task Force, Education Excellence Task Force, and Maternal, Infant and Child Health Council; and
Whereas, her concern for the welfare of South Carolina’s children and families is also evident in her work as a member of Shiloh United Methodist Church, where she is active as Sunday School teacher, Family Ministries chairman, and choir member; and
Whereas, Mrs. Perry, taking her responsibilities with the seriousness they deserve, has labored diligently for the welfare of South Carolina’s children and families and has well repaid the trust placed in her by this great State.
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring
That the members of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina, by this resolution, commend Mrs. Nancy K. Perry for her excellence as executive director of South Carolina Children’s Home and Family Services, and express the gratitude of the South Carolina General Assembly for her many years of service to the children and families of this great State.
Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be presented to Mrs. Nancy K.Perry.
LEXINGTON – A Celebration of Life service for Nancy Kinsella Perry, 62, will be held at a later date. The family will receive friends from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, 2007 at Caughman-Harman Funeral Home, Lexington Chapel. Memorials may be made to Nancy K. Perry Endowment at Nancy K. Perry Children’s Shelter, P.O. Box 344, Lexington, SC 29071 or to Shiloh United Methodist Church, 1000 Spring Hill Road, Gilbert, SC, 29054.
Mrs. Perry was born in Rochester, NY November 9, 1944 and passed away on Saturday, June 23, 2007. She was the daughter of Emilie Dress Kinsella and the late Paul Kinsella. Nancy was a graduate of the State University of New York in Buffalo with a BS degree and received a Master of Education Degree from the University of South Carolina. She was a licensed Independent Social Worker in the State of South Carolina. Nancy began her career in 1972 as the initial house parent with Welcome Home in Lexington. In 1978, Nancy was named Executive Director of this home, which was now the Lexington County Children’s Shelter. She held this position until 1994. In 1992 a new purpose built shelter was constructed and in honor of Nancy’s dedicated service, it was named the “Nancy K. Perry Children’s Shelter”.
Nancy was an Adoption Specialist with Children Unlimited Inc. specializing in Special Needs Adoption. Nancy served in the Office of the Governor, Continuum Care Division as Director of Planning and Development. Nancy was presently Executive Director of the SC Association of Children’s Homes and Family Services.
A Joint Resolution was passed by the State Legislature and concurred by the Senate honoring Nancy’s work with South Carolina children and families. In addition, she received the Palmetto Patriots’ Award from the office of Lt. Governor Andre’ Bauer and she has been approved for the Order of the Palmetto given by Governor Mark Sanford.
Nancy is survived by her husband Roy O. Perry, Jr.; children, Philip “Flip” (Rebecca) Reynolds of West Columbia, SC, Audra (Raul) Cruz of Rowesville, SC, Laura (John) Jefferson of Lexington, SC and Michael (Erika) Perry of Abu Dhabi, UAE; grandchildren, Nicole Heslewood, Alie, Jenna, Jaden and Tre Jefferson, Chase Cruz and Maegan Reynolds; 3 brothers, David Kinsella of Pelion, SC, Paul Kinsella of Atlanta, GA and John Kinsella of Columbia, SC
Evon Brown was the heart and soul of the Nancy K. Perry Children’s Shelter. She served as clerk, administrative assistant, event coordinator, training coordinator, and a great friend to every child and adult who ever came to the Shelter. She was also a close friend of Nancy K. Perry and began work with the Shelter many years ago and in her current position in 2002.
In a small organization such as ours, the staff becomes like family and that’s the way we thought of Evon. She was loved and respected by everyone who came in contact with her. We will miss you Evon.
The Music Inside
by Jerry Bellune, Editor Emeritus
Reprinted from the Lexington Chronicle
Evon Brown was one of those people who could make you feel instantly at ease and as if the two of you had known each other for years.
She enrolled in one of my evening writing classes at Midlands Tech some years ago and almost at once became the house mother and cheerleader for the rest of the class. One of her first exercises as a writing student was to write her obituary. All of my students do it. It’s more than a writing exercise. It’s an exercise in self-examining your life. Try it some time. It will make you think about what you’re doing with your life.
My students are invited to read their obituaries to the rest of the class. This helps us get to know each other and often provokes howls of laughter at what they write about themselves.
This was when we learned that Evon had a deep, dark secret in her past. I say that with tongue in cheek.
Dale Earnhardt, also known as “The Intimidator” because of his aggressive driving style, had hired her to work as nanny for his four children. These included Dale Jr., now almost as famous on the NASCAR racing circuit as his legendary father was. All of us in the class were intrigued that one of us had enjoyed such an intimate relationship with a famous family. We encouraged Evon to write about it. Evon was modest about it and said she would think about it.
Over the years we have joked about the book she should write about the Earnhardts and its bestseller potential. “Maybe I’ll get around to doing it one of these days,” Evon would say.
Evon clearly loved children and for the last seven years worked with Jarrell Smith at the Nancy K. Perry Children’s Shelter caring for children who had been abused and neglected.
“Evon was the heart and soul of the Children’s Shelter,” Jarrell said. “She was a great friend to every child and adult who came to the shelter.“In a small organization such as ours, the staff becomes like family and that’s the way we thought of Evon. She was loved and respected by everyone who came in contact with her.”Jarrell said that during her recent illness, two women who had lived at the shelter visited her bedside, cried and told her they would not be where they are today if it were not for her.
I often kidded Evon that she did not want to go to the grave with her book about the Earnhardts still inside her. But I’ve come to accept that wasn’t what Evon was about. She was about children and helping others in life.