Daily Point of Light # 2105 Feb 27, 2002

The Reformed Church founded Nazareth Orphan’s Home in 1906. The Home was set up to serve orphaned and half-orphaned children ages six to twelve years of age. Rev. J. M. Lyerly, who operated the Crescent Academy, was the moving power behind the decision of the North Carolina Synod of the Reformed Church to open a Home. The McNairy farm was 85 acres in the Crescent Community. This farm along with a ten-room house was purchased July 10,1906. The Home opened December 1,1906 with Miss Mary Abbott as manager and four children as residents.

By 1956, Nazareth Children’s Home had served 360 children. At this time, the campus included dormitories for boys and girls, a superintendent’s home, a farm manager’s home, a steam-operated laundry, and an array of farm buildings. The first floor of the girl’s dorm had two parlors, a library, and a music room. They also had an apartment for the dietitian, a central dining hall, kitchen, walk-in refrigerator, and deep-freeze unit.

Linda Benge has been working with the Nazareth Children’s home for more than 30 years. The Board hired her as a social worker, and she tirelessly works to serve abused and neglected children each day. Today, the Home houses children from ages five to twenty-one. Benge takes an active part in each child’s life at the Home. She knows them all by name and shows them the love, compassion, and understanding they desire and need so much.

Benge works to be sure the children are receiving all they need. She works with their nutrition, which affects their physical well being as well as their mental health. She is known in Rowan County as “Mother Teresa” because she gives so much of herself for the children. She is aware that the children at the Home have not had stability in their lives and they have not received much nurturing during their developmental years. She makes it her goal to try to reach all of the children and meet their needs. Some of them need to talk, while others may just need someone to listen.

Linda Benge plays different roles for each of the children because of their individual needs. She has worked with and helped hundreds of children who have grown up at Nazareth Children’s Home; and they have all become better people because of their interaction with Linda Benge.