125 years and stronger than ever!

125 years and stronger than ever!

Cunningham's First Legacy Gift

In the late 1800’s, Judge Joseph and Mary Cunningham began to ponder their legacy to their community. Advancing in years, they knew they needed to plan for the day when they would pass away and no longer be able to help those in need. The Cunninghams were particularly concerned about the fate and the future of orphaned children.

Living in their large estate just outside Urbana, called "The Cedars" because of the double row of beautiful cedar trees that lined the long driveway from the road to the house, the Cunninghams decided their legacy would be to make this home a safe place of hope, comfort and love for orphaned and homeless children.

On October 25, 1895--125 years ago, the Cunninghams put their legacy gift plan into action by deeding "The Cedars" to the Woman’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church to be used as an orphan-age. On the day they made their gift, Judge Cunningham wrote in his journal: "May God’s blessing go with this gift, and may it be the means of doing much good."

Years later when Judge Joe and Mary passed away, they had peace in knowing that because of their gift, the most vulnerable children would continue to be cared for and loved. Their legacy continues 125 years later though the hope found at Cunningham Children’s Home.

A rich tradition

Our rich, historical connection with the United Methodist Women tells the story of the hundreds of amazing women who have served alongside our staff and prayed for our kids for the last 125 years.


And they did!

You see, in the 1940's, the UMW petitioned the federal government for a much-needed building, but it was war time and everything was rationed. For them, it didn't matter. They knew the need and they were going to take care of the children at Cunningham. And they did!



Our past is full of groundbreakings and new construction! Cunningham built a much-needed school and gym with the Noel Education Center. We broke ground in August 2017 and our youth began using the new school in early 2019. The UMW continue to work alongside us in our effort to give our students greater academic success by providing a learning environment that meets their behavioral and special education needs.

Over the last 125 years, many things have changed, but our vision - to see every child thrive - has remained constant because of the support of so many. We salute your loyal support, then, now, and always.