On October 15, 1985, Windwood Farm Home for Children opened its doors to six boys in state custody as a residential treatment facility. At the farm, the boys would receive the intense therapy and care they needed to recover from trauma most often caused by abuse or neglect. Thirty-five years later, over 700 boys have called Windwood Farm home.
When Jody Tamsberg and his wife Anne decided to move their family from Windwood Farm to Georgetown, they fulfilled a dream by offering their beautiful property on the banks of the Wando River as a refuge and place of healing for boys. The Tamsbergs wanted the boys to have a home where they could fish, ride bikes, go for walks, and play ball like other kids while receiving treatment. The beauty and serenity of the 110-acre farm provides such a refuge.
“I had wonderful parents who taught me the joy and obligation of giving back to those less fortunate. Anne and I were interested in helping abused children and became aware of the dire shortage of treatment facilities for boys in state custody. We thought our farm would be the perfect place for these young boys to receive the healing therapy they needed and still be able to be kids”, said Jody Tamsberg, Chairman of the Windwood Family Services Board of Directors.
In 1991, the residential treatment program moved from the Tamsberg family home into a newly constructed residence on the property. In 1997, Windwood opened an on campus school with funds provided by the Sertoma Club of Charleston. In 2005, then Governor Mark Sandford dedicated a new residential home for 12 children that now houses the Psychiatric Residential Treatment program. In 2011, Windwood opened an Outpatient Therapy clinic in Mouth Pleasant and one year later launched the Community-Based Prevention Services program. The prevention program helps families at risk of having their child placed in state protective custody. Case managers visit their homes, access their needs, connect them with resources, and work with each family to create a plan for stability and success. Since the community-based prevention program began, Windwood case managers have helped more than 4,000 local families.
The Windwood volunteer program began in 2000. Today, approximately 1,000 volunteers donate time to support Windwood in a typical year.
“Looking ahead, we know that implementation of the federal Families First Preservation Services Act will fundamentally change residential treatment programs like ours. We anticipate that our level three Group Home will become a Qualified Residential Treatment program. This means that boys will receive treatment on campus for weeks instead of months. Under the new model mandated by the state, we will provide a more extensive transition program in the home after a child is discharged,” said Debbie McKelvey, Windwood Family Services Executive Director.
“Additionally we are working with state agencies and funders to renovate the Windwood Farm Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility to provide beds to serve an additional six boys. Our Outpatient Therapy Clinic will likely be offering only virtual appointments for families and individuals for the near future due to Covid-19.
“Our 35th anniversary celebrations will be much different than we anticipated due to financial challenges and safety concerns related to the ongoing pandemic,” McKelvey said. At the same time, we see tremendous opportunity to make significant progress in eradicating child abuse and prevention in our community while providing help, hope and healing to children and families.
“The dedication of donors, grant funders, volunteers, staff, and our board made our 35th anniversary possible. This year we will be celebrating them as we reflect on our success and prepare for the challenges ahead.”