FAIRFIELD — A group of people involved with the old Good Will-Hinckley Home for Boys & Girls is looking to resurrect the home’s mission through a newly formed nonprofit organization.

The Hinckley-Price Home Association, which was founded in 2011, recently received nonprofit status and is looking to make a difference in the lives of homeless children in Maine.

“The home changed the lives of young people. We want to return to that original model of preventative child care,” said Wes Johnston, executive director and a former chaplain at the home from 1992 through 2000.

Preventive child care — the idea of interceding in the life of at-risk children before they get into trouble — is part of the home’s founding legacy, dating to 1889, and one that the group wants to see continue, he said.

“The need is as great as ever. I would definitely support anything that addresses the issue of homeless children and especially teens,” said Sharon Abrams, executive director of the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers in Waterville, a social-service agency that provides counseling, activities and help with adoption to needy children and families in the area.

Abrams said the closing of the home in 2009 left a gap in resources available to homeless youth in the state.

“They had referrals from all over the state. Unfortunately, that type of housing has gone by the wayside largely because of funding issues,” she said.

The original Good Will-Hinckley Home for Boys & Girls closed because of financial troubles, but the organization re-opened its school as a magnet school in 2011.

Glenn Cummings, president and executive director of the organization, said at the time that the school’s intent was to carry out the legacy of the original home’s founder, the Rev. George Walter Hinckley, but that unlike the Good Will-Hinckley of the past it would not focus on troubled youth.

Instead, the school, which in 2012 became a charter school, would draw students who wanted to go to college but did not necessarily have support at home to do so, and students who flourished outdoors rather than at a desk.

The school does offer a residential program for students who wish to live on campus.

Peter Sturtevant, association president of Hinckley-Price Home Associates, said that the mission of the new group is different and that it does not intend to compete with the charter school. He said the name comes from the Rev. Hinckley and the Price family, a family that helped the Hinckleys run the organization in its early years.

Sturtevant said the new organization would serve children in the fourth- through eighth-grade range and that the curriculum would have a moral component. The original home included a Protestant chapel where boys and girls attended services weekly.

“It wouldn’t necessarily be religious, but students would be exposed to the ideas of different faiths. Learning morals would be at the core of the curriculum,” he said.

The organization also would operate solely on donations and grant money, he said.

“The Hinckleys never accepted public funds. Unlike a charter school that operates on state dollars, we would not use taxpayer money,” Sturtevant said.

Johnston said the old home also operated on grants and charitable contributions in its early days, but getting that money isn’t easy.

“The competition is very intense. It’s getting harder and harder,” Abrams said.

She said more organizations are applying for grants and seeking other funding because less money is available from state and federal government.

While the new organization has administrators in place, the group doesn’t have property or a place to build homes, Johnston said.

He said the group would consider buying property on the Good Will-Hinckley campus if land is available, but it hasn’t approached campus directors about that yet. The organizers also are looking for a place where the operation can grow if it’s successful.

The ultimate goal is to be able to accommodate children from around the state who are homeless. The reason for their homelessness could be poverty, lack of parenting in the home or problems with drug addiction or mental illness affecting others in their home, Johnston said.

Johnston, who has worked in private-school administration but is between jobs, said the old home was the most rewarding professional experience of his career.

“Children that came from poverty and abuse or who had dropped out of school and were going nowhere changed. I was able to see them find success,” he said.

Others who were involved with the old home also have said they would like to see the Hinckley legacy revived and perpetuated.

June Price, 84, of Fairfield, grew up on the campus and graduated from high school there in 1946. Her father worked in the fields of the school’s farm, one of the cornerstones of the original school.

Price said she had nothing to do with naming the new organization but that she is related to the family whose name it bears. Her father and her uncle both worked and helped manage the farm at Good Will-Hinckley and personally knew George Walter Hinckley.

“He had the greatest philosophy that could be. I really think it could work today if we had the money,” she said.

Although Price lived in a home with her parents on the campus and not in the cottages for boys and girls, she said she was able to see the difference the home made in children’s lives.

“We learned how to survive in hard times,” she said.

Everyone on the campus played a role in its upkeep, whether that meant cooking, growing vegetables or mowing the lawn.

“It was a strict discipline but a good discipline. No one was without a job when they graduated,” she said.

Rachel Ohm —  612-2368
[email protected]

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