North Carolina’s First Children’s Home turns 148!

MHCO is entering its 148th year of caring for children in need!

We are older than:

  • Airplanes

  • Motorcycles

  • Automobiles

  • Television

  • Movies

  • Light Bulbs

We are able to continue to fulfill our rich heritage because of the generous support of many giving hearts!  Please help us continue caring for children in need for another 148 years.  CLICK HERE TO DONATE AND SET UP YOUR RECURRING GIFT!

Growing Hearts, Brighter Futures


The Terry Mills Gilliland – HDR Bridge

While this was a time of “safer at home,” MHCO has seen some impressive progress in moving forward on several projects. Most notably the HDR Bridge was completed on 6/5. Time and elements had taken it’s toll on the steel I-Beam, Railroad Tie bridge which was put in place in the 1960’s. Serving its purpose well, the bridge had become dangerously worn and erosion made the bridge unsafe for vehicle traffic. As local developments increase Jordan… Creek has seen an increase in water flow, often overflowing the bridge.

Alumnae Terry Mills Gilliland always keeps her Home and her younger brothers and sisters in mind as she chairs the Chip Shots for Children Golf Tournament and serves on the Alumni Association Board. In the Fall of 2019, Ms. Gilliland suggested MHCO submit a LOI with the HDR Foundation. HDR engineers provide a variety of services to groups like NCDOT, including designing bridges. This project was especially rewarding for all involved. HDR Foundation has been seeking providing resources for a project in the Southeast, building bridges is one of their expertise, and Ms. Gilliland who works closely with HDR was raised at the Home.

The new bridge provides MHCO with safe access to the back of the property, supports the farmer’s efforts, and provides significant safety and service access for the Sheriff, Oxford Fire Department, and City and County officials. MHCO expects and intends for the back of the property to be utilized more for Masonic Events, such as outdoor degrees, Environmental Educational opportunities, and Scouting Activities.

This project was simply not possible without the support of many. During the course of this project, HDR Engineers, located in Raleigh, volunteered their design and engineering work. Catlin Engineers and Scientists conducted the Geotechnical Investigation for the Bridge, waiving their fee as a donation to MHCO. Sanford Contractors provided additional supports to keep expenses within the HDR Foundation Grant. Granville County and Oxford City officials supported the project helping keep related expenses minimal. The fifteen-foot wide concrete bridge with concrete footings protecting the pilings was built without cost for the Home.

The Bridge Project has special meaning during these challenging times. The bridge is visual progress at a time when the world virtually stopped. The bridge also represents safety, the main purpose of MHCO’s planning and decisions at all times, but especially during the pandemic. Finally, the bridge represents access. The children have access to more resources toward a better life crossing this bridge and all the bridges in their lives, thanks to everyone’s support.

The bridge was dedicated on August 14, 2020 following the MHCO Board Meeting. On behalf of our children, staff, Board of Directors, Alumni, and friends and supporters we extend our gratitude to all who made this possible!

What have we been up to during the Covid-19 Pandemic?

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all. We especially pray for the children in our care, the staff providing the front-line services, the medical and first responders sacrificing for others, all our families, all those in the Fraternity, and all those impacted directly. Economic and domestic challenges will negatively impact families. Please help refer families who are going through troubling circumstances. MHCO can provide for the children, while families get back on their feet.

MHCO continues to take a cautious approach to opening up. Events on campus are primarily cancelled through July. Some visitors have been allowed on a case by case basis depending on the nature of their business and the ability to remain safe. Visitors are not entering any cottages. A decision regarding the Masonic Homecoming Festival will be made by the 8/14 Board Meeting.

The campus remains active with the pool, gym, playgrounds, bike rides, and summer academy. Children have become Pen Pals with WhiteStone residents, one of which grew up at Oxford Orphanage. We appreciate WhiteStone reaching out to suggest this wonderful connection between our residents.

We look forward to rescheduling, visiting, inviting, and being personally connected with everyone soon. Videos are out and being developed to celebrate and recognize several of these events, as well as, provide ongoing information regarding your Children’s Home. Check them out below and on the MHCO Facebook page.

We continue to focus on the positives and opportunities this situation has provided. The campus is active with laughter and play. Staff and residents are serious about doing their part to help keep all safe. We are prepared to provide virtual presentations. Let us know if your lodge, church, business, etc. is interested and we will Zoom right to you.

We still miss seeing everyone and hope to be able to visit soon!








SECU Foundation Provides Grant to Help Expand Independent Living Program for N.C. Youth

Raleigh, N.C. – The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford (MHCO) has received a $40,000 Capacity Building Grant from the SECU Foundation to help the non-profit develop a comprehensive plan for the expansion of their Independent Living Program (ILP) for youth ages 18-23 who are transitioning from foster care to adulthood. An announcement was made yesterday during a district-wide SECU Advisory Board meeting held at the Granville County campus, where SECU Foundation Board Chair Bob Brinson presented the ceremonial check to MHCO officials.

“We are pleased to help the Masonic Home for Children at Oxford further their mission to assist children and young adults who need a stable, caring, and loving home,” remarked Bob Brinson. “MHCO has a long history and proven track record of providing residential care services to children and families. We hope the Foundation’s grant will help them move forward with increasing their capacity and expanding ILP services to help address the needs of the foster care population.”

The state licensed and nationally accredited Masonic Home for Children at Oxford has been operating since 1872. It is one of the few facilities with a statewide reach to provide an independent living program for young adults in addition to offering residential care services and support programs for children from infancy to adulthood. SECU Foundation’s grant will assist MHCO with assessing organizational strengths and growth areas, improving statewide marketing strategies and fundraising efforts for continued sustainability, training staff for program expansion, and obtaining a new ILP campus design.

“The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford is honored and humbled to receive this generous and thoughtful gift from the SECU Foundation to address capacity issues,” said Kevin Otis, Administrator of the Masonic Home for Children at Oxford. “MHCO is North Carolina’s first children’s home, and over 10,000 children have had an opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed at tremendous levels thanks to the support of our gracious donors. This tradition continues today as SECU Foundation and MHCO join together to brighten our children’s futures.”

About SECU and the SECU Foundation

A not-for-profit financial cooperative owned by its members, SECU has been providing employees of the state of North Carolina and their families with consumer financial services for 82 years. The Credit Union also offers a diversified line of financial advisory services including retirement and education planning, tax preparation, insurance, trust and estate planning services, and investments through its partners and affiliated entities. SECU serves over 2.4 million members through 267 branch offices, nearly 1,100 ATMs, 24/7 Member Services via phone, a website, and a Mobile App. The SECU Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization funded by the contributions of SECU members, promotes local community development in North Carolina primarily through high impact projects in the areas of housing, education, healthcare and human services. Since 2004, SECU Foundation has made a collective financial commitment of more than $169 million for initiatives to benefit North Carolinians statewide.

Life is Cool in the Pool!

The new pool was officially dedicated on May 10th.  Board Members, donors, employees, children, and friends of the Home joined to recognize the historic impact of previous pools and this impressive reprieve from the summer and life’s rigors.  Friday’s recognitions included Oxford Mayor Sergent, Chairman Preslar, PGM Hallman, GM Sigmon, and NCMF Chris Richardson.  PGM Hallman shared historic information written by long time Oxford Orphanage employee, Nettie Bemis.  In the report Ms. Bemis shared the many positive benefits of the pool for the children, including improved health.  We look forward to continuing these benefits for the children for several decades.  The dedication ceremonies went extremely well and the children got to swim in the Home’s pool for the first time in two years.  Fundraising continues to completely pay for the pool.  Contact us if you would like to make a splash with your contribution.  And special thanks to all who continue to meet the needs of our children!


Announcing the Donald L. Sizemore Memorial Fund

New Fund Honors Life, Impact of Donald Sizemore

He was the one who brought you french fries after every dentist appointment. He was the one who coached your Little League team. He was the one who spent four decades at your home, dedicating his life and life’s work to provide a better home and future for thousands of children. And now, we are the ones to recognize and honor Donald L. Sizemore for the love and dedication he showed to so many children, for so many years, cared for at Oxford Orphanage and The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford.

The Oxford Orphanage-MHCO Alumni Association recently announced formation of an endowed, memorial fund honoring Mr. Sizemore. The fund, administered by the North Carolina Masonic Foundation, will make an annual contribution from its endowment to MHCO, for use of the residents in their care.

Like Mr. Sizemore, this fund will impact young lives now and provide a foundation for support and giving to all children who need our Home in the future.

The fund is built on love, memory and stories – stories that will live forever through the voices of so many alumni and employees of the Home. They tell of Mr. Sizemore’s care, compassion, and belief in our Home and its mission while he served as cottage counselor starting in 1964, and later in administrative positions and as coach for various little league teams on campus. Primary to his work was the admission of children, traveling thousands of miles, meeting with families, and serving as the first contact to those who needed a home at Oxford. For many alumni, Mr. Sizemore was the constant and caring soul during their time our Home — and even after they left.

Your tax-deductible contribution to this endowment fund of the alumni will ensure that our beloved Mr. Sizemore will be remembered for generations to come – through support every year – that will help keep out home strong into the future. This is every alumni’s opportunity to recall and cherish the impact of this employee, friend, and supporter of their lives and of this Home for years to come.

Donations can be any amount. Gifts will be recognized by the Alumni Association as charter gifts to the fund and will be part of a wonderful announcement and first gift presentation at our 2019 Homecoming.

Information on how to honor your memory of Mr. Sizemore with a gift is below. For more details , please contact Tina Gilreath (919-603-3906)/ or Chris Richardson (919-690-5996)/

Donations can be mailed to: MHCO c/o Tina Gilreath, 600 College St., Oxford, NC 27565. Checks should be made payable to The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford or “MHCO” and must include “Donald Sizemore Memorial Fund” in the memo line.

Online donations can be made at or Be sure to note “Donald Sizemore Memorial Fund” on your online gift form.

Thank you for your consideration and for helping us remember in a meaningful way how Mr. Sizemore dedicated his life to giving children a chance at our Home in Oxford.

Happy Birthday, MHCO!

On February 13, 2019 the Masonic Home for Children at Oxford will turn 146 years old! On that day, our Home began caring for children in need and we continue to provide a stable, safe, and caring home today. We will be turning 150 years old in 4 short years. Check our website often for news regarding the upcoming celebration, our history, and our bright and promising future.

Check out these other notable happenings from 1873!

 •January 01, 1873 – Origin of Japanese Era

•January 11, 1873 – 1st livestock market newspaper published, Drover’s Journal, Chicago

•January 14, 1873 – Celluloid registered as a trademark

•February 13, 1873 – Oxford Orphan Asylum opens in Oxford, NC (Known as MHCO today.)

•February 20, 1873 – University of California gets its 1st Med School (UC/SF)

•March 03, 1873 – Congress authorizes federal departmental postage stamps

•March 09, 1873 – Royal Canadian Mounted Police found

•May 01, 1873 – 1st US postal card issued

•May 20, 1873 – Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis receive United States patent#139121 for using copper rivets to strengthen the pockets of denim work pants. Levi Strauss & Co. begin manufacturing the famous Levi’s brand of jeans, using fabric from the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in Manchester, New Hampshire.

•May 23, 1873 – Postal cards sold in San Francisco for the 1st time

•June 02, 1873 – Construction begins on Clay St (San Francisco) for world’s 1st cable railroad

•June 18, 1873 – Susan B Anthony fined $100 for attempting to vote for President

•August 01, 1873 – San Francisco’s 1st cable car begins service

•August 14, 1873 – Field & Stream begins publishing

•August 18, 1873 – 1st ascent of Mount Whitney, Calif (14,494′)

•August 26, 1873 – 1st kindergarten public school opens in St Louis

•September 17, 1873 – 19 students attend opening class at Ohio State University

•October 30, 1873 – P T Barnum’s circus, Greatest Show on Earth, debuts (NYC)

•November 04, 1873 – Dentist John Beers patents gold crown

•December 30, 1873 – American Metrological Society forms (NYC) weights, measures & money.

MHCO Pool Project



Oh, summer pool!

So cold and blue

Are you aware

That I love you?


Your diving board,

Your lovely slide …

Which is best?

I can’t decide.


On sunny days that never end

Oh, summer pool

You’re my best friend!



“Making a Splash” for our Kids at Oxford

The Importance of a Pool in the Lives of our Kids at Oxford

For decades the swimming pool has been a part of the summer experience and generated positive and lasting memories in the lives of children living at Oxford Orphanage and the Masonic Home for Children at Oxford. From the “swimming hole” on the Orphanage Farm to the first pool built in 1921 to the latest location completed in 1988, the pool has been a social gathering place for recreation and fun and is vital to the care of our kids!

Why is a new Pool for our Kids Needed?

Due to its age, major leaks, and the absence of the most current and most efficient safety and environmental features the difficult, but necessary decision was made to close the pool in the summer of 2017. The shower house and pump house also showed signs of disrepair including significant leaks, wiring issues, broken decking, and disconnected ladders.  As with any facility on our campus, physical condition and a safe living environment are the first and most important factors in deciding when to repair, to renovate, and ultimately when to close and rebuild.

A swimming pool is more than just an added feature to an already incredible living environment for our children. It is a place of gladness and relaxation. Throughout history our pool was a gathering spot for cooling off, first swimming lessons, and quality time with staff and other residents alike.  Our pool is a place that brings the campus together to celebrate birthdays, childhood milestones, and to create lasting memories.  Our pool is a place to get away, providing a positive and fun setting that aids our children with difficult and daily feelings of living apart from or without a family. With its current condition and for the health, safety, and well-being of our kids, we must build a new pool that is safe, affordable, and enjoyable, for years to come.

What is the plan for a new Pool at MHCO?

Our MHCO Board of Directors has thoroughly reviewed proposals and approved the design and construction of a new six lane pool, with a “beach-type” zero entry feature allowing children of all ages and ability levels to safely enjoy their experience. New features include a “splash pad”, replacing the maintenance and safety concerns associated with a “baby pool”, and will include a mushroom shower, bubblers, and fountains.  The project also includes a new pool house equipped with ADA compliant showers, an upgraded lifeguard office, and a modern concession stand serving the needs of our children and staff when visiting the pool.  Finally, a new location on campus for the pool was chosen to allow closer proximity to parking and bathrooms with accessibility both inside and outside of the pool.  With these features comes the most important addition – the construction of a safe, efficient pool, built for the health and well-being of all children at MHCO.

We can only make this wonderful part of a child’s life possible at MHCO with your help. Read on to see out how YOU can support this vital and exciting project.

An Executive Summary

CURRENT CONDITION OF POOL – MHCO identified many safety, electrical, and structural concerns that have grown worse over time and because of the risks associated in keeping it in operation, closed the swimming pool and its ancillary facilities, May 2017.  The pool remains closed currently and for the first time since 1980.

Determining factors regarding replacement of the pool versus renovation include the following:

  • Age of the pool – over 30 years old, with filtration and electrical systems of the same age;
  • Cost of repairs – annual costs on average of over $10,000 for leaks, decking repair, pump house repair and maintenance, and other maintenance and safety issues;
  • Comfort and safety of ancillary features – including shower house and pool which are not ADA-compliant, bathrooms that were without privacy features, and limited areas for shade, food preparation, and proper storage of safety equipment;
  • Annual maintenance – due to leaks and the age of pool equipment, annual water costs continued to rise negatively impacting both financial and environmental costs due to water usage and chemical usage.

CONSTRUCTION AND COST – Taking into consideration these factors, the cost to renovate the current pool and its structures, and the ability to properly address these issues with renovation, the MHCO Board of Directors voted in February 2018 to construct a new swimming pool, at a new location on campus, to include a new pool house, decking, pump house, and with added safety and convenience features.  Planning also included the replacement of the “Baby Pool” with a more hygienic, safe, and environmentally-friendly, “Splash Pad, to accommodate younger children.

Primary consideration was given in selecting the appropriate contractor, while examining the ability to secure donated funds and financing to complete the project without additional costs negatively impacting MHCO’s budget dedicated to the care of the children. In February 2017, MHCO accepted proposals for construction of the pool reviewing several designs, analyzing costs, and determining a price point necessary to promote and secure donations sufficient to fund the cost of the project.   After thorough review and multiple revisions to determine that price point, Greenville Pool & Supply Company was chosen in February 2017 as the pool contractor.

The total cost approved by the MHCO Board in February 2018 for pool construction was $307,950 and does not include the cost of a slide. DanCo Builders Inc. was selected as the contractor for the Pool House, Pump House, fencing, lighting, decking, and engineering at an approved cost of $274,509, including a $75,000 allowance for site work.  With these two costs the project total for the pool and ancillary structures equals $582,459.  This is a reduction in the original plans and bids first submitted in May 2017 of $220,000.  Additional costs will be realized in sewer, water, and electrical connections and phone installation.  Additional purchases will include pool amenities, lifeguard stands, pool cleaning and safety equipment, deck furniture, recreational, and concession equipment at an estimated cost of an additional $143,355 for a total project cost of $725,814.

At A Glance

A New Pool for our kids Will feature ….

  • Six lane pool, with zero-graded entry and water slide
  • Splash pad feature, with mushroom shower feature, bubblers, and fountains.
  • ADA-compliant shower house, with privacy stalls and multiple entrance and exit points
  • Dedicated concession area for food service with wash and storage capabilities
  • Lifeguard office equipped with compliant safety and communications equipment
  • Pool design features and depth limitations to enhance therapeutic, educational aquatics program for all ages and swimming abilities
  • Modern pool filtration, monitoring systems to lessen environmental impact, safety concerns, and operational costs
  • Improved security and lighting features to enhance safety and promote utilization

Project start date: May 2018

Est. completion date: May 2019

project cost: $725,814.00



Donor Opportunities

The difference your gift will make to this project

Do you have fond memories of summer and swimming at the pool? Wasn’t it the perfect place to meet friends and have great times?  How important was your first swimming lesson and how proud you were to be able to swim? Is this an experience you would like to give to a child at MHCO?

For almost 80 years the pool has been an essential and important part of the lives of children at MHCO. We need your help to ensure that children today and for years to come will continue to enjoy this wonderful part of the care we offer.  As of May 1, 2018, $271,000 in donations have been given to this significant project in the lives of our kids.  With your donation to our MHCO Pool Project – 2018, we can fully fund our goal of $725,000, “making a splash” for those in our care.  Know with this contribution you will be giving to more than the construction of a pool.  You will be giving directly to the health, safety, confidence, and happiness of a child at MHCO, now and for many summers to come.

Ways you can give to the MHCO Pool Project 2018

RECOGNITION/NAMING RIGHTS – Donors who designate funds for the purchase of these items receive exclusive naming rights on the locations indicated below.



Six Lane pool:        $308,ooo

Pool House:           $150,000

Pump House:        $20,000 – Pledged

Decking:                $30,000

Splash Features:    $12,600

Pool Slide:             $50,000

Fencing:                $12,000 – Pledged

Lighting:               $4,000 – Received

Concession:           $15,281 – Pledged

Equipment:           $2,100

Guard Stands:       $4,400 – Pledged

Deck Furniture:    $12,100

Games:                  $5,900

Pool Equipment:   $930 – Pledged


All donors who give $500 or more will be recognized on the MHCO Pool Project 2018 Giving Wall that will be displayed on the Pool House of the MHCO Swimming Pool.  Click HERE to fill out the donation/pledge form and send it in today!

2018 Ambassadors



2017 Ambassador Chris Hawkins addressing the 2018 class.


MHCO is proud to present the 2018 Ambassadors!  With the induction of this class, we only have 2 districts left without representation.  These gentlemen, and many of their wives, visited our campus late in April.  Over the course of 2 days, they met our children, toured our campus, and learned about our past, present and future.  We are honored to have them join our other Ambassodors as representatives, supporters, and champions of our Home.  The 2018 Ambassadors are:

  • Tommy Cook
  • Chris Gibson
  • Rodney Hardy
  • Ron Hensley
  • Kevin Howell
  • Chase Huffer
  • Martin Jackson
  • John Lloyd
  • Michael McMorrow
  • Dave Ozvat
  • James Pugsley
  • Scott Sigmon
  • Victor Vogelsang


Ambassador Michael McMorrow striking a pose!



A good time was had by all, and here are the funny faces to prove it!