Palmer Home’s Dr. Hugh Francis, Jr. Wellness Center opened on May 20 almost exactly one year after the groundbreaking for the site. 

Palmer Home CEO, Drake Bassett said the project has been special from the beginning. The 25,000 square foot addition was designed by Fleming Architects out of Memphis and built by Montgomery Martin Contractors. 

“It was May 18 of last year when we broke ground,” Bassett said. “It’s been a long time coming and I’m so proud of what we’ve done here.” 

Dr. Hugh Francis, Jr. served on the Palmer Home Board for over 40 years, and has been described as a vital part of Palmer Home’s history. Bassett said he has been greatly missed, but he is thankful for the opportunity to honor Dr. Francis through the new building. 

“I miss his sense of humor and his candor,” Bassett said. “I think we could’ve used it a time or two during this process, but I know he would be so proud and I’m so glad he is being honored with this wellness center.” 

The $8.2 million wellness center, complete with a gym, pool, gathering space, board room, offices and academic and counseling suites was funded completely by private donors. The Dr. Hugh Francis, Jr. Wellness Center is now the crown jewel of the Palmer Home campus on Baldwin Rd. 

“I am proud to say that this building is 100% paid off,” Bassett said. “I honestly can’t believe it, but God has paved a way for us this entire time, and I’m so immensely grateful for our donors during this process.” 

Bassett spoke about the past and future of Palmer Home, noting its long history as a safe haven for children in need over the last century. 

“On a day like today, I’m reminded of the fact that 127 years is a long time. Palmer Home has been doing this mission for that long,” Bassett said. “What I see today is the start of a new chapter. I can’t help but think that there is so much more ahead.” 

Looking ahead, Bassett said there is much more to come for the future of Palmer Home. 

“Our imagination has begun to flow as we think about all of the different needs that we will be able to meet,” Bassett said. “Just like there was 127 years ago when Palmer Home began, there are still so many children that are hurting and need our help.”

Bassett said the new wellness center will leave a lasting impact on the next generation of those who serve Palmer Home, as well. 

“Long after we’re gone, the work of serving people in need will continue and this building will be here to show that,” Bassett said. “One day, we won’t be here, but the next ones to come will be able to see what we’ve done here.” 


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