As Abigail Taunton looked around at all the friends, family and community members gathered on the children’s home’s property, she couldn’t help but be glad to see such a crowd.
There were about 300 people enjoying the Taunton Family Children’s Home’s facilities on June 4 – the largest turnout yet for the organization’s annual fundraiser.
“This is our 10th festival,” Taunton said. “We missed ‘21 and ‘20 because of Covid, but this is our tenth year putting it on.”
“This year, we had four main sponsors, so we’ve done really well on the fundraising front… and this is probably the largest turnout we’ve ever had.”
The property, which has housed about 400 children at one time or another, consists of several homes spread out across the Tauntons’ acres of land. A playground sits in the center of the property, an indoor gymnasium stands adjacent to the houses and down a small hill, sits a bright blue pond with a waterslide.
Sometimes, Taunton said, summer camps and local organizations use the property, which took her family decades to build.
When the Tauntons started the children’s home 45 years ago, they floated cypress trees down the river, which they used to build a single house where everyone lived together. Now, Abigail Taunton said, things are a little less cramped.
“We started there, and we just started taking in kids. Next thing we knew, we had 32 in that house,” she laughed. “Those were some hairy times.”
Many of the children who grew up on the property, and their families, had gathered to help at Saturday’s event – walking around the event in bright blue t-shirts and catching up with friends and family.
Children come to the Tauntons through word-of-mouth a lot of the time, Taunton said. From there, she and her husband, David, will decide how best to support them.
“Usually I’ll tell people to bring the child up here to see who we are and what we do, because when a child hears the words ‘children’s home,’ they’re not thinking something like this,” she said. “They’re thinking of an institution.”
“And if we think we can help that child, we give it a try… We try to accommodate as many as we can.”
The children’s home is in need of more house parents, who live in one of the facility’s houses and help to raise the kids in the children’s home’s care.
For more information about the Taunton Family Children’s home, to volunteer, or to seek help for yourself or someone you know, visit the organization’s website at https://www.tauntonhome.net/home.