For more than 100 years the Christian Home of Johnstown has served the needs of children and young adults. The Christian Home’s roots grew out of the actions of a small group of concerned women in the early 1900s. Through their work with local police in holding religious services for inmates, these women became aware of the often desperate situation faced by homeless girls and boys, as well as women. Children who were orphaned or abandoned had no options: at that time there were no public agencies or other facilities that would provide care and shelter. Women who were widowed or abandoned likewise had few options.
Some of the women led by Miss L. Grace Young, Miss Mary Layton, Mrs. W.A. Adams, Mrs. Bella Boyer, and Mrs. Charles Keener often took the children into their own homes. Recognizing this couldn’t serve as a permanent solution, they worked with members of the Central and Morrellville chapters of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and formally established the Christian Home on November 1, 1908. The first location of the Christian Home was a rental house on the corner of Coleman and Dupont Place in Moxham.
Mrs. Bella Boyer offered to serve as matron, and the Christian Home opened its doors for the first time on December 10, 1908. The need for additional space became apparent from the beginning, and in 1910 property was purchased at 1100 Edson Avenue. The following year, an adjoining lot was purchased, and in 1913, another lot with a double house was purchased and remodeled as a separate residence for boys. The Christian Home has been at that location ever since.
Until the early 1960s the Christian Home maintained its original purpose of providing assistance to women and children. At that time, the development of both federal and state agencies charged with providing oversight and guidance to human service agencies, along with the implementation of various regulatory and licensing requirements, dictated a change in the way the Christian Home operated. In 1964, the Christian Home was licensed to serve as an Emergency Shelter Facility for children, but could no longer accept women over the age of 18.
In 1981, the Jacob Fend Foundation, named for local businessman, Jacob Fend, provided a major grant to the Christian Home. Some of the funds were used to raze the two original buildings housing residences for girls and boys, replacing them with one facility, which was named for Jacob Fend. The Fend Home was licensed as a group home in 1982 and is still in use today as a group home for adolescent females ages 10 and older. In 1990, the Fend Home expanded from 12 to 18 beds, and currently has a capacity of 20.
In 1991 a new building located on Edson Avenue was purchased in order to expand the programs of the Christian Home. In 1992, the building opened as a second group home that provided Independent Living to females aged 15-18. The building was named Houston House after Mrs. Houston, a former matron of the original orphanage. Due the need for male group homes, this facility became a residential group home for adolescent males ages 10-18 in June of 2006. Currently both the male and female programs include an Independent Living component and are licensed by the PA Department of Public Welfare.
Over the years the Christian Home has continued to grow and adjust in order to meet the needs of the community and fulfill its mission. In 2008 the agency revised the group home program, introducing the WIN/WIN Advanced Program to address the increasing complexity of the needs of the children we serve. The program is designed for both boys and girls in the group home setting as well as Independent Living. Currently the Christian Home also manages a Cambria County Independent Living Program that teaches independent living skills to the young adults in the care of Cambria County Children and Youth.
The Christian Home of Johnstown is always making headlines because of the excellent services we provide the children in our care! We invite you to visit this page often to review information about news and events involving the Christian Home!