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Thornwell’s vision is to see hopeful, healthy, and empowered children and families fulfilling their God-given potential.


As a Christian ministry, our mission is to provide safe and nurturing environments where we educate, equip, and support children and families to thrive.



Because we trust in God, we seek Divine wisdom and guidance in all we do, anchored in Scripture and the historic tenets of the Christian faith.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”Proverbs 3:5-6; Apostles’ Creed


As passionate servant leaders, we are committed to serving others with humility and integrity.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”Philippians 2:3-4 NIV


We are committed to a family-systems approach, recognizing the interconnectedness of children within their families and their broader social support networks.

“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”Ecclesiastes 4:12b NIV


We prioritize respect, embracing the uniqueness and inherent dignity of every individual.

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”Galatians 3:28 NIV


We are committed to the highest quality work, utilizing research-based best practices to maximize our impact.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”Colossians 3:23 NIV


We are committed to working in unity toward fulfilling our shared vision.

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”Ephesians 4:16 NIV

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 supporting families through a time of crisis, Thornwell has kept the faith with its mission of healing and hope.

Strong families mean strong communities.  Thornwell has a legacy of adapting programs as society has changed around us and expanding services to meet identified needs.  We will continue to meet future challenges head-on because so many depend on our success.

 If one dollar is offered me for the Home of the Fatherless this month, or one child is tendered me, I will take it as God’s call to this work. And if I enter upon it, then my lot is fixed for life in Clinton.

-Dr. William Plumer Jacobs

Be Like Willie: The Impact of Your Gift to Thornwell.


Behind each program and service here at Thornwell is a team of passionate, trauma-informed professionals dedicated to empowering children in need and building stronger families across the Southeast.

Our Impact

Our Impact

Learn more about the mission and vision of Thornwell in action.



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