Blog Post by Christi Tennyson
PCHAS Development Officer

“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.” These provocative words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu resonate with me because they describe how Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services embodies its mission.

Many people know the name Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services, or PCHAS (“peach-az”), with only a vague idea of how the agency serves the community. You may remember it as the Farmington Children’s Home, an orphanage in southeast Missouri for most of the 20th century. The agency has changed with the times while staying true to its mission: to provide Christ-centered care and support to children and families in need. What does that look like in action?

Ask Maddie. When she was 13, her anxiety disorder disrupted the family and her parents argued every day about how to care for her. She told her mother that she had a plan to kill herself. The St. Louis family sought help from a PCHAS counselor who helped strengthen their relationships and become a safe haven for each other.

Ask Darien. When only 10, for various reasons he stirred up trouble on the school playground and was suspended. Then a therapeutic mentor from PCHAS met Darien twice a week for six months. Darien learned how to deal with his frustrations more productively and is now on track to graduate high school.

We have another program, Transitional Living, to support young adults – teens leaving foster care and twenty-somethings on their own – with temporary housing while they increase their independence.  PCHAS also helps children by working with their parents. Our program for single parents, for instance,  provides a safe, stable home for up to a year, while the parents get job training and life skills to become self-sufficient. Those tools keep these families together.

The most powerful way to help children is by strengthening their families. Although we manage foster care cases and facilitate adoptions, our goal is to prevent abuse from occurring. God is working through our dual efforts to keep some staff “downstream” and send other staff “upstream.” When we do this well, we help children and families find hope and know the love of God.

What else would you like to know about PCHAS? I am happy to share other inspiring stories with you and would love to visit your church for a Minute for Mission in the fall. If you would like to know more about how you can help by being a PCHAS ambassador or hosting a table at our annual luncheon, please email me at or call me at 314.499.0395.

I hope that you continue to join us, whether upstream or downstream, to truly serve each and every child who comes into our care. They are more than numbers or case files. Serving them well, and renewing their strength so that they may grow and thrive, gives us our greatest joy.

For the Children,
Rev. Christi Tennyson
PCHAS Development Officer

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