An Explanation in Regard to Dunlap Orphanage: Since the beginning of the epidemic of Spanish influenza at the Dunlap Orphanage, a number of the Covington people have visited that institution. Some of these who have gone have not only shown their interest by their presence, but have taken with them many things that were used for the comfort and relief of the sick children. A great number of the Covington people have given to these orphan children during their sickness. For these expressions of interest the children in the home are grateful, and, I am sure, the entire membership of the A. R. Presbyterian church are grateful.
During these visits to the institution the needs, and the seeming needs, have been observed. These friends who have visited the home have published abroad its needs upon their return. It is because these needs, and these seeming needs, are before the minds of the people of Covington and Tipton county, that I write. And what I shall have to say will be more in the nature of an explanation.
For seven months it was my privilege to serve the Sharon congregation, which is known in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Synod as our “Orphanage Church.” Soon after taking up the work there, the superintendent and matron of the orphanage resigned. The orphanage board, being unable to secure a superintendent, asked me to act in that capacity temporarily. This I attempted to do. Living in the manse which is near by, we were able to make frequent visits to the home.
During the summer I was offered the pastorate of the Covington church. Upon accepting this call, we planned to move the first of October, but postponed our moving because the superintendent and matron who had been elected a short time before, were providentially detained in coming. But near the last of October Rev. J. M. White, who had succeeded me in the church work, offered to help care for the orphanage, and we moved to Covington.
A few days after moving we learned that influenza had made its appearance in the orphanage. We made a visit and saw the situation. A number of the children were in bed and the matron sick, and the home which Mrs. Wellons and Miss Miller were able to keep in fair condition while all were well, was beginning to show signs of neglect – as any home will do when the children and mother are sick and help scarce. We sought, through the Covington Red Cross, the help of some trained nurses. This we did, not for financial aid, but because we knew the Red Cross was in more direct touch with the nurses and could come nearer securing their services.
The A. R. Presbyterian church supports the institution well. She contributes more than $8,000 annually and besides, sends hundreds of bundles of clothing, new and old quilts, bed linen and other articles from the churches over the south. Mrs. Wellons, a Southern Presbyterian, who was reared in refinement, often said, “The church certainly remembers her orphans’ home.” the need of clothing, to a large extent, is only seeming. Mrs. Wellons spent several days folding and laying away clothing for the winter. There are two rooms full of clothing. Much of the clothing is ready now, and other articles need only a few alterations. But the mother of the home sickened and died, and strange hands, amidst the confusion, have not been able to find them.
One of the needs of the home mentioned by the visiting friends is wash pans or basins. The children use the lavatories, and do not need the wash pans. The great need at present is help. The executive board said, “Hire the washing.” this was done until cotton picking time, and since then the children have been doing the washing for the same reason that many of the white people in Covington are doing their washing. “Help” has been the cry from the orphanage. It is the same cry that has been coming from the lips of the farmer merchant, housewife and others. The trouble with the cry from the orphanage is that it has not had even as much response as some of the others have had. We saw the needs of these sick children and sought help. The Covington Red Cross gave their services in securing help.
What I want to say is, the orphanage is in trouble now, not because of a lack of support by the church or a lack of interest in those who have given their services directly, but because of sickness and a lack of help.
Some of those who have observed conditions seem to forget that these are unusual times when it comes to securing help, and that the cry for man-power and woman-power has been louder than the cry for money. Now, the real way to help is to offer your services. Do I hear anyone say they will go?
W. C. Kerr.
[An Explanation in Regard to Dunlap Orphanage, The Covington Leader, 21 Nov 1918]