The Boys Home of York County will no longer be homeless.
That's what the 39-year-old nonprofit hopes will happen under a new partnership with Clemson University's Youth Learning Institute.
Announced last week, the partnership has two goals: To send as many as 30 boys deemed at-risk to the Youth Learning Institute's summer camp and eventually build another Boys Home in the Sharon area.
"It's outstanding," board member Mike Bender said of the agreement. "It will be a relief to those of us who have kind of struggled on to try to keep it alive."
The original Boys Home closed in 2004 after state funding dried up. The home had long served as place where boys, typically ages 12 to 17, could find a second chance.
Many of the home's guests came from families that were ravaged by alcohol or drugs. The Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Social Services referred children there.
When the Boys Home closed, the organization's board of directors searched for other ways to reopen, Bender said. Initially, the idea was to restart the program at the same Rock Hill home on Neely Store Road that welcomed its first boys in 1970. But bringing that house up to proper building codes would have been too expensive.
The property was sold in 2006.
All the organization's assets have now been placed in a Clemson endowment.
The interest collected from that money will pay for summer camp scholarships for at-risk boys.
The rest of the money will be saved to build another home, and Clemson will match that amount.
The site for a new Boys Home could be in the Sharon area, where Clemson owns 302 undeveloped acres.
"We've been looking for the right partner and the right opportunity to actually be able to develop it," said Pam Bryant, public relations director for the Youth Learning Institute. "This could very well be just a win-win situation for us and for the Boys Home."
But the biggest cost, Bender said, won't be building another Boys Home. It will be finding a way to pay for the daily care of those boys.
Although that question must still be answered, for folks like the Rev. Fant Steele Jr., any progress is wonderful news.
Now 80, Steele was the home's first director. He saw the place close because of funding problems in 1972, then reopen in 1980. He served as the director again.
He remembers teaching the boys about academics and practical skills, such as how to grow vegetables in a garden. His wife taught boys how to draw and paint. The boys called him Pop. His wife was Ma.
"Painful," is how he describes the Boys Home closing.
Steele worked with 142 boys during his time at the home, and he says many came out better because of their time there.
Some come to visit him.
They still call him Pop.
That's why he's glad to know there's some hope for another Boys Home.
"It thrills me to think about that," he said. "It is still needed."