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News from Boys Home of Virginia

Winter 2017

We’re thankful for Christmas Sponsors!

Hilltoppers Basketball

By Becky Skidmore

Top row (left to right): Nate C., Abe A., Sequoia N., Maurice W., Keith K., Mike W., James M. Bottom row (left to right): Tony G., Nehemiah R., Chavas W., Shama B., Jamel D.

This was my first experience with Christmas at Boys Home. I wasn’t sure what to expect. My only experience with Christmas was on my own personal level. What a whirlwind! It was a wonderful situation I found myself in, meeting and talking with people from around Virginia and other states, all sharing the common goal of providing a joyful Christmas experience for the boys. Everyone I spoke with was so helpful and kind. This year we had a total of 109 sponsors! With the help of our new church liaison, Michael Nunnally, and others, we reached people who would not have known about this program. Three of our cottages, Greene, Sams, and Jack Gordon, were sponsored on some level– either with presents, clothes or furnishings. We received a last-minute donation that will enable the staff to send a few eligible boys on a possible ski trip this winter, if the weather permits. The houseparents are the unsung heroes in this program. They do all the information gathering to find out what the boys like. They wrap all the presents and keep the boys out of the presents. Having kids of my own, keeping the kids out of the presents is the hardest job! The Christmas party had a lot of laughs, with a special phone call from Donnie Wheatley, who was on the road visiting donors. The food was wonderful and the visit from Santa Claus was very special for the kids. I am looking forward to working with everyone next Christmas and hope everyone has a very blessed 2017.

The Hilltoppers have a packed season this year and we asked head coach and houseparent, Jason Cordova, to give us an update. “After a rough start to open the season, the Hilltoppers have found their groove and went into the Christmas break with a 3-7 record. Maurice W. currently leads all high school players in the state of Virginia in two statistical categories: rebounds (20.5 per game) and blocked shots (5.2 per game), and is third in scoring (27.8 points per game). Jamel D. is second in the state in rebounds (18.0 per game).” With a few games left, we’re excited to see how the season ends!


Boys Home of Virginia Founded by The Rev. George Floyd Rogers Rector, Emmanuel Episcopal Church Board of Trustees 2016-2017 President Leonard S. Slater Vice President Edwin P. Hopkins Treasurer Bernard C. Syme, III Secretary Donnie E. Wheatley ‘66 Immediate Past President Edwin W. Simpson Ex Officio Bishop, Diocese of Southwestern Virginia The Rt. Rev. Mark Bourlakas Members Patrick R. Cafaro James M. Cox Dennis Duffy Dr. Yvonne Harris Stephen B. Lane Kelly O’Keefe Kenneth O. Robison, II Ann Vest The Rev. Todd Vie Joseph P. Whittle Margaret N. Whittle Honorary Member Dr. Bruce Heilman

The Boys Appeal is published 3 times a year by the Boys Home of Virginia Development Office. 414 Boys Home Road Covington, Virginia 24426 Phone: (540) 965-7700 Fax: (540) 965-7702


From the Executive Director Donnie E. Wheatley I was attending a seminar where the presenter asked us, “Why do you do what you do?” It was like an awakening! I began listing reasons to answer the question. I carefully evaluated all I had written. In the end, it was clear that Boys Home does what it does solely for the boys. We exist because a man from the church recognized a need and took action. That humble beginning evolved into the current ministry. Changes were made by the trustees to ensure the ministry continued to address the needs of the boys entrusted to their care. Sometimes those changes did not satisfy “why we do what we do” in a way that adequately addressed needs. Sometimes they were made in answer to another entity with like results. The trustees, when they came back to the burning question, made corrections that brought the ministry back on track. Presently, the trustees believe that providing a place with a focus on prevention rather than rehabilitation will address needs in a better way. Additionally, resources for parents/guardians with limited means who are seeking assistance as their children begin to act out are very limited. For many, Boys Home is an answer to their prayers. A couple years ago, staff and trustees became interested in the national focus on trades education. Feedback from recent alumni indicated that graduates not attending college and even those graduating from college were having a difficult time finding a fulfilling job. After exploring many different avenues, Boys Home alumnus Rick Turner and his wife offered a solution. Through soul searching, Rick came to the conclusion that his time at Boys Home was very meaningful and he and his wife wanted to help. Their arrival marked the beginning of The Center for Applied Trades (CAT). This program has a goal of preparing the graduates for employment in a Trades related field, which will fit quite well with the mission of Boys Home. We do things like this to meet the needs of the boys. BOYS TO SUCCESSFUL MANHOOD It goes without saying that your prayers and support are essential to the ministry’s mission. Since the trustees have adopted a course that does not enjoy state level tax dollar support, you are the primary reason we can do what we do. (Your donations are tax deducible.) THANKS FOR MAKING IT POSSIBLE. Take care and God Bless, Dr. Donnie E. Wheatley Litterarum Humanarum

Teach a Man to Fish Renowned fly fishing instructors Dusty Sprague and Bill Flowers, Jacob Ott of the Greenbrier Resort, Rhett Clarkson, five volunteers from Trout Unlimited in Roanoke, and friends and staff from Boys Home joined us for the 2nd annual Teach a Man to Fish event. Boys from the Resident Council presented Dusty Sprague (pictured below) with a resolution for his commitment to Boys Home. Sprague, Flowers, and other volunteers led fly fishing instruction. Jonathan S. (pictured top left) was presented a rod and reel for making the longest cast. Though the creek was high on the day of the event, several boys still caught fish. (Resident Anthony J., pictured bottom left, shows off his catch with instructor, Bill Flowers.) As the water receded throughout the week, the boys practiced their new skills. Thank you to Rick Pope of Temple Fork Outfitters for providing fly fishing gear for the event. We’re looking forward to next year!

A Lifting of Voices On October 30, Boys Home produced its inaugural Lifting of Voices, a concert of a Cappella music featuring four of the finest a Cappella groups in the Richmond area. Nearly 200 people came out to the Robins Theatre at The Steward School, in Richmond, Virginia, for the event. It was a very successful event for Boys Home, providing an enjoyable and uplifting concert. We’d like to thank all of the performers, sponsors, volunteers, and attendees who made this event possible! Plans are in the works for another benefit concert and we hope to see you there!

Ingevity Community Day

On September 24, Ingevity of Covington hosted a Family Day for their families and Boys Home here on campus. They brought in a bouncy castle, popcorn machine, cotton candy, snow cones, and a food truck. We provided an obstacle course and set up on campus for the event. Prior to the event, several members of the Ingevity team joined us on campus to build a new Gaga pit (pictured bottom left). The Gaga pit was a big hit and has been a big hit here at Boys Home since it was built. We want to thank Ingevity for the relationship they’re building with Boys Home. Hosting Ingevity’s Family Day was a pleasure and we hope to have more events like this in the future.


2016 Hall of Fame Inducts Four New Members

From left to right, Mr. Buford Brown, Mr. Kenneth Burns, Mr. Wesley Corbin, and Mr. Antonio Gibbs were inducted into the 2016 Boys Home Hall of Fame in September.

September 17, 2016, marked the 19th annual Hall of Fame banquet at Boys Home of Virginia. This year, we were honored to have 4 inductees who either made a difference in their communities because of Boys Home or made a difference at Boys Home: Buford L. Brown, Jr., Kenneth G. Burns, Sr., Wesley R. Corbin, and Antonio Donta Gibbs. The first inductee of the night was Buford Lawson Brown, Jr., of Covington, Virginia, presented by Mr. Danny Cale. Mr. Brown came to Boys Home in 1982 as the Maintenance Supervisor. He worked at Boys Home for over 30 years before he retired in 2014. Mr. Cale introduced him as a man who knew how to do everything and went above and beyond for both his job and the boys. Mr. Cale said that though he was probably hired to replace Mr. Brown when he retired, Mr. Brown could never be replaced. Mr. Brown talked to the boys about the importance of trades and hard work. He encouraged the boys to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them at Boys Home and grow into men like the ones being honored that night. The next inductee was alumnus Kenneth G. Burns, Sr. ’56, of Lynchburg, VA, presented by his daughter, Mrs. Cami Wirt. Mr. Burns came to Boys Home in 1949 at the age of 11 from Lynchburg, VA. While at Boys Home, he was very active in sports, mainly football, in which he lettered. He graduated from Covington High School in 1956 and enlisted in the United States Air Force, serving 6 years, 4 years active duty and 2 years in reserve. Mrs. Wirt said about her father, “Through his actions, he taught me the meaning of a strong work ethic, the need to treat people with respect, the value of knowledge, and the importance of being responsible. These are values that he learned while living at Boys Home.” Mr. Burns thanked Boys Home for the lessons he learned and the good habits he developed while growing up here. The third inductee of the night was alumnus Wesley Rowe Corbin ’56, of Fayetteville, NC, presented by his daughters, Ms. Christina Sullivan and Ms. Belinda Lebatard. Mr. Corbin came to Boys Home in 1945 from Adamsville, AL. While here, he was very active in Boy Scouts, earning Eagle Scout, and football, lettering for Covington High School in 1953. After high school, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve for one year before joining the United States Army in 1956. His daughters talked of his commitment to family and how he instilled in them that money isn’t everything. They spoke of how he always gives to others and credits Boys Home with developing his character in that way. Mr. Corbin emphasized that Boys Home is his home and thanked everyone for the honor of being inducted.


Hall of Fame cont.

Left: Inductees and their families make their way from the chapel to the dining hall for dinner and the ceremony. Right: Sams Cottage waiting to be seated for the Hall of Fame banquet dinner.

The final inductee of the night was alumnus Antonio Donta Gibbs ’03, of Phoenix, Arizona, presented by his brother, Reginald Gibbs, Jr. Mr. Gibbs came to Boys Home in 1996 at the age of 12 from Norfolk, VA. During his time at Boys Home, he was very active in Troop 66, the Boys Home Singers, various sports, Resident Council, and won numerous awards including the George Floyd Rogers Citizenship Award two years in a row. He graduated from Alleghany High School in 2003 and enlisted in the United States Army (Corporal) from 2003 to 2008. His brother, also an alum of Boys Home, spoke of their time on campus as brothers. He shared about how living in the same cottage as his brother only lasted one month because of their argumentative nature, but that the arguing was out of love and Boys Home instilled a deeper love for each other and others during their time here. Antonio thanked everyone who came to support him and for being nominated to the Boys Home Hall of Fame. He told of coming to Boys Home 20 years ago and being thrown into a world where respect, honesty, and integrity were normal and expected. Antonio left the boys with a quote from Aristotle, “He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.” He encouraged the boys to strive to live up to their full potential in leadership both at Boys Home and afterwards.

Board of Trustees President, Len Slater (right), ended the evening with two important observations about the work done at Boys Home. He said, “It’s remarkable to listen to the stories of the men being honored tonight – each different but all with a common thread and that common thread is the family life and caring that they received at Boys Home. Several of the people working at Boys Home now grew up here. Why do they come back? They come back because of their passion and commitment to help young boys develop into successful men.” Boys Home is home for many young men who grow up here. The houseparents, staff, and other residents become like family to our alumni. They come back because they believe in the upbringing Boys Home provided them and still provides for the young men we serve today.

We would like to thank everyone who makes the Hall of Fame so special. For years to come, we look forward to honoring alumni and staff who make a difference. Video and pictures can be found on our website at


Quilting for a Cause Boys Home has many donors and supporters who go above and beyond to make Boys Home special for the young men who live here. Below is a story of three supporters who go above and beyond to bless the boys in a special way. “I made my first quilt 12 years ago. My friend Nancy Kontak taught me,” says Phyllis Gibson, long-time Boys Home supporter and sister of Donnie Wheatley. Several years ago when Donnie told his sister that Boys Home was remodeling the cottages, Phyllis decided she wanted to make quilts for all of the new beds. Phyllis told Nancy what she was doing and Nancy wanted to help. Along with the help of Nancy’s husband Alan, they worked hard to make sure not only the beds in the renovated cottages had quilts, but that all of the beds on campus had hand made quilts. Phyllis, Nancy, and Alan were able to visit Boys Home after the renovated cottages opened last fall and see the fruits of their labor. “On our visit there, we took a tour of one of the cottages and the boys proudly showed off the quilts they chose,” said Phyllis. “All the boys thanked us and we even got a few hugs!” Together, Phyllis, Nancy, and Alan have made about 140 quilts for the boys over the last few years. They like to make sure each boy has a quilt while they’re at Boys Home and a quilt they can take with them when they leave. Phyllis hopes the quilts comfort the boys when they feel lonely or when they’re missing their family. She wishes someone would have done something like this when her brother was at Boys Home as a young boy, but since she can’t change that, she wants to do it for the other boys. Making the quilts is quite a production for the three of them. They don’t live in the same location, so they travel to be together to make the quilts. Alan cuts the fabric and Phyllis and Nancy piece together and sew the quilts. Nancy has been quilting for over 20 years as a hobby and loves being a part of this project for Boys Home. They make about 10 quilts every time they visit. Alan and Nancy said, “Boys Home is a wonderful facility.” They raved about their visit last fall and the work that’s being done with the young men at Boys Home. Phyllis, Nancy, and Alan hope to continue to make quilts for the boys as long as they can. Along with the quilts for the boys, Phyllis has made 3 beautiful quilts to be raffled as a fundraiser for Boys Home, including the one in this Boys Appeal. Phyllis’s beautiful quilts have raised several thousand dollars for Boys Home. We truly appreciate the dedication of people like Phyllis, Nancy, and Alan. The quilts have become a special part of the Boys Home story. Please see the back of this Boys Appeal for more information about the quilt raffle! Meet Mike Nunnally– new Church Relations Coordinator for Boys Home. Mike is an alumnus and was a resident at Boys Home from 1956-1963. Mike says, “At age 12, I came to Boys Home as an abused, confused, and troubled boy. Basically, Boys Home saved my life. My seven years there taught me to be in control of myself, think for myself, and depend on those who loved me and cared for me. Sports, basketball and baseball, and my coach Paul Siple played a huge role in shaping my goals for the future. Campus and cottage life provided plenty of opportunities for personal growth and leadership opportunities, at the same time teaching me to be responsible for my thoughts and actions.” Cont. pg. 7

Alumni Corner


Why I donate… By Sarah Jones

Mr. Daniel Karnes, center, and his wife Nancy, right, present check to Donnie Wheatley.

Winter Wish List Towels Washcloths Cups Silverware Plastic bowls Pillows Hygiene products Work gloves Gift Cards

Dates to remember… April 13-18—Spring Break May 5—Residential Education Day May 12—Awards Banquet End of May—Graduation

We always say it’s hard to tell the Boys Home story to someone who hasn’t visited. There’s something about visiting, meeting the boys, meeting the staff, and seeing the campus that really helps people understand what Boys Home is and why we do what we do here. I had the privilege of speaking with one of our donors, Mr. Daniel Karnes, about his experience visiting Boys Home and how he came to be a donor. Mr. Karnes said he remembered hearing about Boys Home over 30 years ago when Donnie Wheatley took over as executive director. He said he read an article in the paper and it struck him that Mr. Wheatley grew up at the home. He thought the board of trustees had probably made a good choice in Mr. Wheatley. Three or four years ago, Mr. Karnes had the opportunity to visit Boys Home with his church, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Roanoke. He said he saw a plaque honoring Michael Folland on the wall during their tour and asked Mr. Wheatley about it. The plaque represents the Michael Folland Award, established by alumnus Joe Mullins ’65, and is given each year to a senior chosen by his peers. Wheatley explained that Michael Folland had been a resident at Boys Home and had joined the Army after his time at Boys Home. He was sent to Vietnam, and while there, threw himself on a grenade to save his fellow men. He died in action, but was awarded the Medal of Honor. Karnes, also a Vietnam veteran, was moved by the story and wanted to give a lasting gift in honor of Michael Folland. Mr. Karnes and his wife, Nancy, have decided to create a scholarship in honor of Michael Folland to be used by a Boys Home graduate seeking higher education after leaving Boys Home. Their scholarship will be separate from the Michael Folland Award, but will honor Michael Folland and his service to our country. Mr. Karnes said he spent time in a home similar to Boys Home when he was growing up. He dropped out of high school but found mentors and positive influences who led him to come back, join the Army, earn several graduate degrees, and retire from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel. He hopes that the scholarship he has set up at Boys Home will provide opportunity for young men who need a new direction in life. Boys Home is grateful for each of our donors and grateful for the stories that weave them into the Boys Home story. Please contact us if you would like to share your story of how you became a donor! Email Sarah at or call us at 540-965-7714.

Alumni Corner Cont. After leaving Boys Home, Mike attended Bridgewater College from 1963–1966. He enlisted in the Army in 1966 and served until 1969, serving in Vietnam from 1967-1968. After the Army, he finished his degree in Physical Education at Bridgewater College and pursued a master’s degree from James Madison University. Mike was a teacher in Loudoun, Virginia, until 2002. Mike has served on the Boys Home Board of Trustees as well. Mike is now our Church Relations Coordinator here at Boys Home. He says serving in this position is “a chance to give back to the place that nurtured me as a youth.” He hopes to “promote Boys Home and its mission to Episcopal churches in Virginia and develop partnerships that reflect the long legacy of the connection between Boys Home and the Episcopal Church.” We’re excited to have Mike on board! 7


414 Boys Home Road Covington, Virginia 24426 (540) 965-7700

Boys Appeal - Winter 2017

A successful man has to start somewhere... 2017 Boys Home of Virginia Quilt Raffle ______________________________________________ Name ______________________________________________ Address ______________________________________________ City/State/Zip (_____)_______________________________________ Phone

$5 per ticket or $45 for ten tickets

Drawing is March 17.

I enclose $______for Boys Home. Mail to: Boys Home of Virginia Attn: Quilt Raffle—Lauren Ward 414 Boys Home Rd. Covington, VA 24426


Purchase online:

Quilt Raffle The quilt we’re raffling this year is handmade and donated by Donnie Wheatley’s sister, Phyllis Gibson. It’s a professionally quilted Charleston Romance pattern that measures 96ʺ x 92ʺ slightly larger than a standard king sized quilt. Tickets are $5 for 1 ticket and $45 for 10 tickets. We will draw a winner on March 17, 2017. All proceeds go to Religious Life at Boys Home. Best of luck winning this beautiful quilt!

Boys Appeal - Winter 2017  

The Boys Appeal is a newsletter pinted 3 times a year by the Development Office at Boys Home of Virginia. Read about the Hall of Fame, speci...

Boys Appeal - Winter 2017  

The Boys Appeal is a newsletter pinted 3 times a year by the Development Office at Boys Home of Virginia. Read about the Hall of Fame, speci...