The campus in Bean Station as changed over the years but the mission remains the same: caring for kids.
(WBIR-Bean Station) A place in Grainger County continues to take in children from troubled families to love them and care for them and help them. It's been the mission of Kingswood School for seven decades.
Kingswood School cares for children from troubled families. The campus has changed during the past 71 years and now there are plans to add a student activity center. Emily Stroud and Jim Martin
A Methodist minister founded Kingswood School in a hotel 71 years ago. A little boy named Reuben Couch was one of the first children who lived in what was essentially an orphanage and a safe place run by people who cared.
"I lived in Perry County, Kentucky in part of a family of 11," Reuben Couch said.
His dad worked as a carpenter but it was a time of food rationing and extreme poverty so his family reluctantly brought four of their children to Kingswood.
"I had a mother and a father who loved me dearly no question about it. I think they understood that they really needed help," he said.
The campus has changed over the years. Children live in cottages with house parents since the hotel burned down. And now Administrator Doug Moody says poverty doesn't bring children here as much.
"We reach out now to children who are coming out of families that have been ravaged by drug abuse, alcoholism, and our mission now is to provide a safe haven for children in need," Doug Moody said.
Abby Williams and her two brothers and younger sister arrived there a few years ago to escape a rough home life.
"Out doing trouble. My mom, Wendy, is in jail. My dad? Really don't know where he's at," Abby Williams said.
She knows where she would be without Kingswood.
"Probably in foster care. And we would probably be all split up," she said.
The non-profit residential group care home receives no government funding. Kingswood depends on donations for its entire budget.
"I spend a lot of time on the road trying to encourage people, some of them that don't know about the ministry here, to share the ministry with them and encourage them to maybe share their budget," Reuben said.
He is a successful businessman who now is a full-time volunteer for Kingswood. A portrait on the wall at Kingswood is part of his recognition for his decades of outstanding volunteer work.
"I'm just trying to say thank you for what they did for me and my family," he said.
He's helping with a goal to build a student activity center near the cottages for about a half million dollars.
Doug Moody said, "We have a very nice flat area just below the cottages that would be easily accessible.We're hoping that might be the place our architect decides to put this building."
It will build on Kingswood School's commitment to kids like Abby.
"It's like living with your family and the house parents are kind of like your parents. Yeah. It's cool," she said.
It's a place where people care and children thrive.