John Howell Sr. – editorial 3/27/2015

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 27, 2015

Whelan provides view of Palmer Home ministries

I found a new friend and made connection with an old friend when Josh Whelan spoke to the Batesville Exchange Club Wednesday. When he told me his name, I looked at him and thought he bore a resemblance to the only other person I know with that last name.

When he told me where he was from — Greenwood — that cinched it. “Are you Mike Whelan’s boy?” I asked.

And he was.

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Mike Whelan and I shared a dorm with about a thousand other guys at Delta State once upon a time. There we encountered such a vast display of human behavior that it drove Mike to straight into psychology which he has practiced ever since.

Dr. Whelan must be rightly proud of his son. Josh is an effective spokesman and advocate for Palmer Home for Children where he is vice president for development.

Palmer Home has two campuses, in Columbus, where it was founded in 1895; and in Hernando.

Palmer is supported by the Presbyterian Church and donations but receives no government funding, Josh told us, leaving them free to teach about Christianity to the children from age six months up who come into their care.

“We’re the Christian alternative to the state-run foster care system,” he said.
Palmer Home keeps siblings together.

“If they get into college, we’ll pay for it,” Whelan said.

The two campuses serve about 100 children. They are often not traditional orphans, he continued. “Most know one parent.”

Most also require much patience, love and counseling, Whelan said, after having been removed from homes where they were often sexually and/or physically abused.

“There are thousands of kids that need help, just in Mississippi,” Whelan said.

Palmer Home has recently affiliated with another ministry called Jonah’s Journey that provides temporary or long-term care for children of mothers who are incarcerated, Whelan continued.
The ministry developed when a group of Christian women in the Nashville area visited female inmates, many of whom were pregnant. When the visitors asked the expectant mothers what would be done with their children after delivery, they broke down in sobs, Whelan said.

The visitors began locating families willing to take the newborns into their homes to foster, at least until the time of their mothers’ release. Palmer saw the effort as consistent with its mission and affiliated with Jonah’s Journey. Over 40 newborns have been placed with families since last March, Whelan said.

“We’ve just scratched the surface.”
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