Anderson Hall, which sits in the middle of our campus, is a beautiful facility and was originally built in 1911. Down through the years, it has primarily served as a president’s home and guest house, and my family and I recently moved into this awesome facility. We knew this move would eliminate some of our privacy, but ultimately felt residing on the campus would better enable us to execute the duties of our ministry. Living in this location has helped us to better minister to our students, and has also helped make life much better for our own three children.
Anderson Hall bears the name of Elizabeth Milbank Anderson, who donated $5,300 in 1909 after hearing James Anderson Burns, our founder, speak at Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York. She followed him to the elevator and asked, “Mr. Burns, what is it you want?” He replied, “I want a farm for our boys.” The following day, Burns received a check for $5,300 from Mrs. Anderson with a note saying, “Here is your farm.” Several years later, when the school wanted to build a new building to house the single women teachers and a domestic science classroom, Mrs. Anderson gave the $11,000 needed for this building.
On the night of July 4, Angie and I decided it would be nice to provide our students with some food and fun. Perhaps we felt a little guilty for conducting business as usual on a holiday, but we know keeping our students in their normal routine is most always best. We had already had an amazing meal in our cafeteria that evening, as some of our friends from Georgia made their annual trip and provided some fine barbecue for our students and staff. Even though we had already had this fine meal around 5:00 p.m., we knew our teenagers would scarf up some pizza at 9:00 p.m.
It was a rainy night, but we knew that wouldn’t stop our kids from enjoying some pizza on our outside patio. Once we had the pizza on site and had gathered some donated drinks, cookies, and chips, Angie called our dormitories and told them to send the kids over. Not more than 30 seconds had passed after the phone call before students appeared on the patio. The kids ripped through the pizza and seemed genuinely grateful for the unexpected treat.
During the fellowship one of our young men—who we will call “John”—who has been with us for about 1.5 years put his arm around me and said, “You done good, big guy.” John is a young man who comes from a very broken situation. He struggled mightily in his early Oneida experience, but he now seems to be thriving. He even led another young man to Christ this school year. I am grateful for friends like Elizabeth Anderson and friends like you who bless Oneida so that we can use our home to minister to kids like “John.”