Where there's a will there's a way

12 May 2016

 …and it seems there’s always been a Will.

 The minutes of the very first Presbyterian Support Otago (formerly the Presbyterian Social Service Association) annual general meeting, 30 September 1907, record gratitude for our first bequest, £500.

 “A little seed of good intention was growing in a good man’s soul” state the minutes.

That good man was Francis Henderson.  Henderson ran a general store near Loch Leven, Scotland, before settling in Broad Bay on the side of Otago harbour.  He built a comfortable home there and, according to the minutes, lived a quiet, simple life.  He was active in the growing Dunedin community and was an office bearer in his Church.

 Two years after his death, it was found that he had gifted £500 “towards the establishment of an orphanage under the control of the Presbytery of Dunedin”.  This bequest became the foundation for Presbyterian Support Otago’s first children’s home in Clyde Street, Dunedin. 

 In the early 1900s, orphaned and neglected children were a great concern for the developing Dunedin community.  Deaconesses Evelyn Macadam and Mary McQueen, and other church members, were taking children into their own homes.  The need for an orphanage was pressing.  The minutes note one particularly ‘pitiful’ case where three children, aged five, seven and ten years, were found huddled together with their mother who was dying of consumption.  Something had to be done.

 The timing of Henderson’s gift was perfect.  A property in Clyde Street was identified as suitable for a children’s home.  It was a house of 11 rooms on a half acre section and was purchased for £1125.  Establishing our first children’s home in Dunedin would not have been possible at that time without Henderson’s legacy. 

 The difference Henderson’s legacy made to the lives of children living at Clyde Street is immense.  Evelyn described life at Clyde Street as not that of an institution but a home.  “Children returned from school rosy, happy and a little untidy, just as other children return to their homes and mothers.”

 We continue to rely on the generosity of people who, having considered the needs of their family, make provision for a gift to Presbyterian Support Otago in their Will.  For over 110 years the Otago community has given.  Like Henderson, you can make a difference in the lives of Otago children today and into the future.  For further information about leaving a gift in your Will contact Richard on 029 1200 132 or visit psotago.org.nz/get-involved

Image: Deaconesses Mary McQueen and Evelyn Macadam at their residence, 100 George Street Dunedin, 1906