(As Reported By Weatherford Democrat)
By SALLY SEXTON
For more than a decade, the Texas Pythian Home has provided aid to children and families in need.
To celebrate the home’s 104th anniversary, the Texas Pythian Home will host Pythian Home Week Monday through Friday, in order to showcase the facilities and spread the word about the home to the public.
“For whatever reason, people don’t seem to know a lot about us and what we do,” Holly Boyer, director of child care at the home, said.
In order to help spread the word, Pythian staff will be giving tours to visitors Monday through March 8 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Special tours are available throughout the year by appointment only.
Sponsored by the Knights of Pythias, the home opened its doors in march of 1909 as a home for widows and orphans of the members of the Knights. Through the years, it evolved into an aid for families and children.
Currently, the Pythian Home has eight youth living on the property, four boys and four girls.
“That’s a pretty low number for us,” administrator Lisa Watson said. “We fluctuate a lot, but 20 to 30 is pretty good.”
Located off E. Bankhead Highway, the ‘Castle on the Hill’ provides youth from as far away as east Texas with a living experience as close to routine as possible.
Children are housed in dorms designed to function more like a hotel suite, complete with bedrooms, a kitchenette, a joint living area and bathrooms.
Husband and wife teams are assigned to each dorm, taking on more of a parental role.
“Our dorm parents are paid as full-time staff and they do work 24/7,” Watson said. “They treat these kids like their own kids. It also provides consistency because the same people are always taking care of you.”
In addition to the dorms, main dining area and central offices, the Pythian Home also has extracurricular facilities on its 164-acre property, including a swimming pool, softball field, tennis and volleyball courts and various barns.
Boyer said families often use the Pythian Home for their children for a variety of reasons, either for financial, physical or emotional situations. The minimum stay at the Pythian Home, which is open to children form ages 3-14, is six months, but youth can stay longer than that if the family chooses.
“We want the family to be active,” Boyer said. “They’re an active part in what goes on. These are situations where the family wants to have the child [with them] but they just can’t take care of the day to day stuff.”
Families are permitted to visit and interact with the child every weekend, and Pythian also offers extended visits during holidays.
“This isn’t like an orphanage,” Watson said. “Our goal is to reunite the children with their families.”
The Pythian Home is funded solely on private donations through businesses, churches, organizations and individuals.
“The support from the community has been very good,” Watson said. “Our surrounding community has definitely gone above and beyond to help.”