Berea resident, Wilhelm Ahrens founded the German Methodist Orphan Asylum, a home for
orphan children from German Methodist churches whose fathers were killed in the War or in the
quarries. When it opened, there were 9 children who lived in one facility in Berea, Ohio.
The first orphanage building, made of native Berea sandstone, was dedicated on Thanksgiving
Day 1868. It was a 3 story structure 45’x70’, large enough to accommodate 50-60 children.
A new roof was placed on the building and another story was also added which gave the home
more rooms for children.
Trustees decided to construct a new building in front of the old one, 45’x70’, at the same height
as the original structure. It cost $22,000 and made room for 50 more children. Cornerstone for
this addition was laid on October 8, 1891.
Third portion added – enabling us to care for 200 children. Up to that date, 516 children from 16
different states found a home at our orphanage.
The Ott Memorial Manual Training School was built. Dedicated by Mary Ott, in memory of
Henry and Ida Ott, it contained a shop for classes in wood-working, drafting, iron-working and
horseshoeing. It also included a gymnasium and a swimming pool. It was later sold to Baldwin
Wallace to be used for classrooms, and was torn down in 1982.
In an effort to build on learning techniques to help the children become self-sufficient individuals,
each child was given chores to complete such as laundry, feeding the animals, milking the cows,
maintaining the coal furnace, cooking and cleaning.
“Papa” Gustav Hauser began his superintendence in 1918. He was a retired minister and a good businessman, with strong parental skills. He taught the orphans life skills and gave them religious guidance. Many evenings, after dinner, he would read stories with biblical connotations. Every Sunday he escorted the orphans to church where they learned about the Bible and grew in their faith.
The final section was added to the building to form a huge cross, seen from the air, and our name
was changed to the German Methodist Children’s Home.
In the 1920s, a decision was made to put children of similar ages into groups, creating a more
home-like environment. This led to the construction of cottage -style homes, beginning with
Mueller-Loeppert Cottage. Children attended public school, community church, and lived with
house parents. Overall, this provided more family centered living and more community. In 1928
the asylum was renamed the German Methodist Orphan’s Home to represent the new home-like
atmosphere it provided.
The Ladies Auxiliary was started which offered women the chance to make a positive difference in the lives of children by securing funds and donations from the community with festivals, parties, auctions, luncheons and bake sales.
The home was no longer serving just orphans, but also troubled children with parents. The agency changed its name to the Methodist Children’s Home to reflect this change in services.
On October 27, 1950, a fire broke out on the 4th floor of the main building. While all the children and house mother escaped, after the fire it was decided that children should not be living in the stone building. This marked the complete switch to cottage living.
Dr. Phillips played a pivotal role during the shift in our focus. He was a Methodist pastor with a talent for getting people to work together for the greater good. As the Executive Director from 1958-1964, he is credited with leading the transition from orphanage to a residential treatment center. Despite opposing viewpoints surrounding the shift in services, Phillips brought all those invested in the agency together, to focus on a new way of caring for a new generation of children in need.
In 1959, in a world where divorce rates were rising and emotional problems were steadily increasing, the organization recognized a need for change. A study was done by the Child Welfare League of America, and based on the results, the agency’s focus was changed from an orphanage to a residential treatment center. As time progressed, it became increasingly clear that treating the children in our care was multifaceted and comprehensive services became integral as we expanded our ability to meet growing needs.
Professionally trained case workers who understood the problems facing present-day children were employed. Foster care increased as a way to provide children from troubled homes with a stable home environment. A group home program was established to offer youth nurturing, structure and guidance in a community-based setting. Counselors were hired to work with the client’s family, school, pastor, and house parents.
Harry Gahn served as legal counsel and devoted trustee from 1913-1962. The Harry C. Gahn
Administration Building was built in memory of his hard work and dedication to the home.
This building housed a new on-campus school to better serve the kids and provide a safe,
productive learning environment. The first class had 15 kids of all ages.
This year began our establishment of group homes and marked the organization’s shift
towards expansion and growth.
Reverend Letts played a pivotal role in the transition to a specialized treatment facility by
spearheading advocacy and fundraising efforts. In the 1970’s, he garnered support for our
programs locally and nationally; asking for charitable support through quarterly appeal letters;
sending personalized correspondence to donors; and developing relationships with supporters.
His work paved the way for the advocacy and fundraising efforts of today.
Reverend John Caddey became Executive Director. Caddey originally came to the home in
1963 as the Chaplain and Assistant Director. Under his leadership, the social and mental health
programs expanded, the number of families and children served rose from 50 to 9,000 and several
campaigns for the expansion of the campus were successfully conducted.
The concept and use of foster homes was common well before the agency’s shift to residential
treatment. Until the early 1970’s, foster parents only received children who were already
being cared for at the Home. In 1973, as a result of federal funding, the Methodist Children’s
Home began to recruit and train foster parents to take children in county care. In the
1980’s the foster care program expanded to serve children with more significant mental health
and medical needs.
By 1974, many boys were completing residential placement and were experiencing difficulties as they
reentered into the community. In response to this need, the Aftercare Program was developed,
to facilitate a smooth conclusion. A child leaving the treatment program received assistance adjusting to his home
and school environment. Older boys leaving the group homes received support obtaining a job or schooling and
attaining adequate functioning in their new setting.
Founded by German Methodists, the agency was run by The United Methodist Church until the
early 1980’s. During this time, many conferences restructured their affiliation with Methodist
organizations, such as ours, asking them to become independent non-profit agencies,
in a covenant relationship with the church. To honor the church, the agency changed its
name to Berea Children’s Home. Today, faith is part of our heritage, operational philosophy and values.
First infant daycare room was opened to provide quality daycare, in a safe environment that
would help them learn and grow.
Family Life Child Care was established offering high quality care for infants to school age children. The program offered a safe, stimulating and high-quality program that prepared children for future educational success. Today the program is offered at 5 locations across Cuyahoga County.
In June 1984, former orphans gathered together to dedicate a monument to commemorate the original German Methodist Orphan’s Asylum structures.
We found that many girls were in need of the same behavior health services that were provided
to boys, so we opened our first girls residential cottage. Prior to this year, Berea Children’s Home
served only boys.
Berea Children’s Home was named Institution of the year.
Changes to our agency structure. A new mission had evolved to providing a ministry of healing and nurturing to children and their families in Ohio. This setting would enable them to grow and become more productive individuals.
In 1992, Pro-Kids & Families Juvenile Diversion Program was developed to meet the needs of
thousands of kids in the juvenile count system charged with unruliness, truancy, incorrigible
behavior, and curfew violations. In this program, an assigned case manager works with families
to develop individualized plans to improve behavior, and to empower parents and guardians to
assist youth to develop improved social skills.
As long time friends, volunteers, and supporters, the Snows helped the agency significantly, expanding
our services and contributing over $800,000 in donations. In 1986 they started The Glenn & Jean Snow Endowment Fund for
evaluation and research. In 1994, our on-campus school was named Snow School in their honor.
The school provides a safe learning environment that encourages children to become
productive members of society.
Essential to the organization, Community Service & Solutions programming, provided in the
community or the family home was added in 1995. This unique model allowed the agency to
treat children and families in a familiar environment and eliminate barriers to service. It is a
cornerstone of our programming that continues today.
Richard Frank began working at the organization in 1978 as a Business Manager and later as the
Assistant Executive Director. In 2004 he became OhioGuidestone’s President and CEO. Under
his leadership, he grew the organization from a small residential center to one of the state’s
largest human services and community solutions organizations for children and families.
New residential treatment center building was constructed.
As a result of a generous gift from the Reinberger Foundation, our Reinberger Chapel was
constructed in 2006 and dedicated in May 2007. The construction on an on-campus chapel gave
our agency a permanent space for spiritual reflection and other gatherings for children, families,
and staff members.
In 2009, a new, state of the art child care center was built to replace our flagship center in Berea.
The 21,500 square foot facility includes a gymnasium and several playground areas appropriate
for many different ages and abilities.
On November 12, 2010, we hosted an open house for our new MidTown Cleveland Campus. This
new Cleveland campus allows us to centralize our four midtown Cleveland offices into a new,
40,000 square foot downtown Cleveland Campus located on a 2-acre site. This new facility is
home to over 200 staff with the capacity to hold more than 600 individuals.
The organization was renamed OhioGuidestone to better reflect the positive direction and solid
long lasting foundation of the organization.
In 2012, OhioGuidestone opened Stepstone Academy, the first charter school in Cleveland’s
Central neighborhood. Through talented teachers, technology rich
classrooms, individualized and group instruction, and Stepstone 360°, our comprehensive support
services model that utilizes OhioGuidestone services for families, the school helps students
overcome barriers to education and to excel academically.
Personal and Family Counseling Services of Tuscarawas Valley formally affiliates with
OhioGuidestone. This partnership will give the organization additional opportunities for growth,
improving the ability to serve the Tuscarawas and Carroll County communities.
Since 1864, we have served over 100,000 individuals. Today we serve more than 17,000 children
and families in need, primarily through treatment in the family home. We operate 13 office
locations in 7 counties, and our services are available across the state. Our programs provide not
only treatment, but prevention, skill building and educational services. They build on one another
to help each client, and each community become stronger.