Staff, students, and special guests gathered June 23 for the ‘Ceremony of the Blessing’.

What impact does a legacy gift have? At Connie Maxwell Children’s Ministries, it can mean a literal lifeline for a child or family in need. Scott James, an alumnus and supporter of the ministry, illustrated that through his testimony during a ‘Ceremony of the Blessing’ on Wednesday, June 23. This quarterly gathering of staff, students, and special guests is a time to reflect on recent legacy gifts established for the ministry.

“Every time I come back on this campus, a sense of calm and peace comes over me,” James said. “I came from an absolute destitute situation.”

In 1946, when James was four years old, his house burned down. A month later, his father was killed in a tragic car accident. This left him, his mother, and two other brothers living in a barn.

“We had nothing, literally nothing,” James recalled. “Our clothes were all burned up in the house fire.”

They eventually moved to Hartsville, SC, and attended Emmanuel Baptist Church, where the preacher told his mother about Connie Maxwell. He recalled touring the campus in 1950 and meeting Dr. Sam Smith and another student named Jerry Friedner. Finally, in 1951, he and his two brothers were dropped off at Eastern Star Cottage (now known as Neb Cline).

While it was painful watching his mother drive away, he is beyond grateful for the new life that immediately began for him. “You can’t begin to realize the impact that a secure place has on a child’s life,” said James. “Every day, I knew I had a place to sleep; I had food on the table and someone who cared for me. I knew that eventually, things would get better, and they did.”

James can see the long-reaching impact that living at Connie Maxwell has had not only on his life, children, and grandchildren but his brother’s families. “With us three boys, none of us have ever been arrested, we all finished our education, and we had good families,” said James.

He is also thankful for the values that were instilled in them by their mother. “I had a wonderful mother. She was the salt of the earth. She instilled our core values and committed herself to get on a Greyhound bus and come to Greenwood every six weeks on Saturday to visit us,” said James.

James is the only survivor left between him and his brothers. When his brother Claude passed away, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his estate and established an endowment in his brother’s honor.

“Every bit of the money from Claude’s estate I gave to Connie Maxwell, and I gave it proudly,” said James. “I regularly give to Connie Maxwell. I do it because I love this place so much. There are wonderful opportunities here.”

Roma Muller, the widow of former Trustee Rev. Johnny Muller, attended the ‘Ceremony of the Blessing’ with her family. They recently established a scholarship fund in Rev. Muller’s honor. She recalled how Rev. Muller had loved Connie Maxwell ever since he was a little boy.

“My husband felt like serving on the board was a culmination of his life because he felt like his mother knew,” Muller said. “It was her heart and then became his heart. Her love for children transferred over to him, and  then that love to us.”

Connie Maxwell President William D. Nicholson II doesn’t apologize for talking about the importance of planned giving and how we are reaping financial blessings today from sacrifices made in the past. In fact, this past year, the ministry was incredibly fortunate during COVID when many organizations shut their doors due to financial strains.

“Because of the sacrifice and service of so many saints that have come before us, we are blessed by an endowment that kept us strong,” Nicholson said. “We didn’t have to miss paychecks or a moment to take care of our children.”

Nicolson continued, “We are here because you are blessed, and you blessed us. This ‘Ceremony of the Blessing’ is to honor the memory of the people who have sacrificed to make sure that our children have a place to call home. That our children are loved and taken care of.”

Other estates that were honored during the ceremony included the late Mrs. Bobbie Jo Branyon, Mr. Julian Bolton, and Mrs. Lula M. Smith.

There are more children and families that need help, and Connie Maxwell hopes to be able to support even more in the future according to the new strategic plan, A Decade of Dreams.

For more information about the strategic plan or other ways to get involved in the ministry, please visit www.ConnieMaxwell.com.