Founded in 1875, Thornwell is a diverse non-profit ministry across Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina committed to the most innovative and effective solutions to heal, strengthen, and empower children and families. Thornwell aligns with child welfare agencies to prevent child abuse and neglect, build up and reunite families, and support healthy communities in the name of Jesus Christ. 

Our Mission, Vision, and Core Values


Thornwell serves to prevent child abuse and neglect, to build up and reunite families, and to support healthy communities in the name of Jesus Christ.


We believe in a world where everyone belongs to a thriving family!

Core Values

  • We help children and families in need.
  • We have a legacy of hope and healing. 
  • We provide a continuum of care.
  • We rely on a community of support.
  • We believe therapy, training, and enrichment activities are critical to healing. 
  • We are motivated by our faith in God.


What We Do to Help Children and Families

Family changes everything in a child’s life, and Thornwell addresses the welfare of children not as a singular event, but rather as a comprehensive, ongoing cycle of services and support designed to help children and families, no matter what stage of life they’re in.

Foster Care – We help place children who have no relatives to care for them with loving families who can provide the security and shelter of a stable home.

Residential Care – We provide a safe family-like home setting where children can recover from trauma and disruptions while their families cope with crisis. The new legal realities mean that big changes have come to Thornwell, but we remain committed to providing residential care for children and families in need.

Child Development Services – We provide nurturing care and educational support to children and families to support healthy futures for kids.

Academic Services – We provide essential education support that addresses distinct learning gaps and provides personalized learning for children and families in need.

Family Engagement – We offer several highly-personalized programs to teach parents important skills and coping tools that help them build a stable family and strengthen it over time through love and support.

Transitional Living Services – We help young people on the verge of adulthood adjust to an independent life outside the foster care system, with housing, life skills training, advanced education support, and workforce preparedness resources.

Our Leadership

For more than 145 years, Thornwell has met the call to care for and support children and families in need. Today, the same spirit that guided our founder to create a home for orphans provides hope and healing for some of society’s most vulnerable. We believe in a world where everyone belongs to a thriving family, and this belief guides everything we do to heal and build up children and families.

Thornwell’s mission to prevent child abuse and neglect, build up and reunite families, and strengthen healthy communities in the name of Jesus Christ is carried out daily by its Board of Trustees and staff. This mission comes to life on Thornwell’s residential and educational campus in Clinton, South Carolina, and across Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina where evidence-based programs are offered by Master’s level, licensed therapists who partner with children and families to give them the tools they need to build healthy relationships and strong bonds for the future. Thornwell’s offerings align with state and federal guidelines and are designed to empower children and families to live their best lives.   

We are a proud member of the Teaching-Family Association and proud to be COA accredited.

2020 Impact

Building Families


children and families served with in-home therapy and parenting classes

Family-like Residental care


children in need provided safe and loving homes



children and families served with expert care, resources, training, and community support

Professional Counseling & Therapy


counseling session provided to children who are now closer to healing

Strengthening families


children and families equipped with family skills training

Transitional Living


life skills training and advanced education support classes for young adults

Learning Center
Read Right &


children equipped with essential education support

Child Development Center


under-resourced families with children ages 6 weeks through 4K served with nurturing care and educational support


Thornwell began as a dream in the heart of a young Presbyterian minister, William Plumer Jacobs, of First Presbyterian Church in Clinton, SC. 

Dr. Jacobs’ dream was energized when 10-year-old Willie Anderson of a nearby community gave Reverend Jacobs fifty cents and said, “This is to help build your orphanage.”

Dr. Jacobs named the orphanage after a mentoring theological professor, and Thornwell opened its doors on October 1, 1875, to 10 orphaned children. Dr. Jacobs’ belief “that God so willed and would, therefore, support the endeavor,” carried him and his beloved orphanage throughout the years until his death in 1917.

Dr. Jacobs documented the progress and struggles of the fledgling orphanage in his diary. Many find his recorded words inspirational for their demonstrations of his reliance upon the Lord for provisions for his children. Further, Dr. Jacobs’ diary catalogs the answers that God provided. Those answers were often exactly what Dr. Jacobs needed and came at just the right time.

The Home of Peace was the original residence of Dr. William Plumer Jacobs. In his home, Dr. Jacobs and his wife, Mary, welcomed the first children to find a refuge at Thornwell.

For nearly a century-and-a-half, Thornwell continues to meet the call for help from society’s most vulnerable—its children and families in need. Whether providing the safety and security of a place to call home, reuniting families after a crisis, or finding a forever family for a child who has no one to care for them, Thornwell has kept the faith with its mission of healing and hope.

Through the years, our mission has expanded into educational and family-oriented services to help prevent families from falling apart, rather than simply reacting after they do. As an organization, we have adapted in the past as society changed around us, and we will continue to meet future challenges head-on, because so many depend on our success.

Our Financial Transparency

We believe in maintaining the highest standards of financial accountability and transparency.

In 2020, 82% of funds directly served children and families.

View our most recent impact report, fact sheetForm 990, or Audited Financial Statements.

Board of Trustees


The Rev. Amalie Ash
Mrs. Sylvia Collins
Mrs. Tamra Sasser Erde
Mr. Tom Free
The Rev. Don Johnson
The Rev. Fred Powell-Haig
The Rev. TJ Remaley
The Rev. Erika Rembert Smith


Mr. Jim Conner
Mrs. Sara Evans
Mr. Gordon Lee Hight, II
Mrs. Mary Martin
Mrs. Jean P. McKnight
Mr. Steven L. Roberts
Mr. Raymond C. Smith

Trustees Emeriti

Mr. Thomas Adams
Mr. John S. Anderson
The Rev. Dr. Samuel M. Cooper, IV
Mrs. Mary Wain Ellison
Mr. Robert K. Folks
The Rev. Dr. John W. Lowan
Brigadier General (Ret.) Hugh McLaurin III
The Rev. Dr. Robert D. Taylor

South caroliNa

Mr. Julius J. Anderson
Mr. Gordon E. Bondurant
The Rev. Dr. Ella F. Busby
Ms. Kay Cleveland
Mr. Anthony Dawson
The Rev. Dr. Charles Elliott
Mr. M. Craig Garner, Jr.
Mrs. Harriet D. Ike
Mrs. Teresa D. Madden
Mrs. Susan W. Malloy
Mr. Jim Morton
Mrs. Dorianne Norwood
Dr. Michael W. Payne
Mr. Maurice A. Purcell

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Employment Opportunities

Partnership Opportunities

Contact Vice President for Mission Advancement

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CARES Act Incentive

Write-off up to $300
When you GIVE to Thornwell in 2020

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