Christmas time—the time of year when you hear from family and friends, new and old, near and far, through Christmas cards. Along with holiday wishes, these cards often include photos and life updates which will undoubtedly carry even more meaning and sentiment this year.
When Ginger Mills, Director of Advancement at Cunningham Children’s Home, received this note along with a donation from Maureen, a former Cunningham resident, she just had to share it with the rest of the agency.
The note said:
Christmas is a season noted for receiving and giving gifts. As a young child, I never received any before coming to Cunningham.
Then one December, two people sat in the living room area of the Administration bldg. I was summons to see them.
Little did I know this was the gift I would receive that Christmas. They became my parents, and I had a last name!
As the three wisemen brought gifts to the baby Jesus…God brought the love of two people to me. I needed nothing more.
Maureen lived at Cunningham in the mid-1950’s. In 1955, she left the first family that had adopted her from birth after a neighbor heard her screaming from beatings and intervened. When she was brought to Cunningham, she was told it was for a vacation. She didn’t know she wouldn’t be returning to her home.
"I had never been on a vacation before," Maureen said. "so, I was excited. I liked Cunningham because there were a bunch of kids. I was just five years old when I was brought there, and I remember the long drive from Cunningham Avenue to the administration building."
Maureen said she was treated well at Cunningham. She has fond memories of Sundays when the children dressed in their finest outfits, went to church and returned for a nice dinner. That was also the day for visitors, usually families of the children who lived there.
"I would wait and wait, but nobody ever came for me," Maureen explained. "I thought my parents didn’t know where I was, so I would sit outside hoping they would drive by and see me and come get me."
After about a year of living at Cunningham, Maureen finally had visitors. The nice couple asked her if they could take her to lunch. After that, they visited her twice a month and even brought her to their home.
"They took me to their farm, and I was in heaven," Maureen said. "They had all kinds of animals…cows, a horse, chickens, sheep, a score of cats and two dogs. That’s when I learned I had a deep affection for animals of all kinds. In December, I was asked if I would like to live with them and I said yes."
Cunningham Children’s Home remains close to Maureen’s heart. She keeps up with happenings here and has returned to campus for reunions and the Festival of Quilts. Afterall, Cunningham gave her a gift that changed her life…love.
"My husband jokes when people say they have a guardian angel," Maureen said, "but I really believe that. God has been my friend since I was at Cunningham. He has blessed me in so many ways."