Madison Twp.’s Calvary Tabernacle Church pastor, the Rev. John Rice, and communications director Craig Inman stand before the One Way Farm marquee on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. Rice and his team will re-open the children’s home in Fairfield and Fairfield Twp. in about two weeks under the same name. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF
Photo: Michael D. Pitman
Photo: Michael D. Pitman

It helped abused and abandoned children before it closed. Now, this Fairfield facility has new life.

It will just be under new ownership.

“We just have a heart for kids,” said the Rev. John Rice, pastor at Calvary Tabernacle Church in Madison Twp.

Rice and his church recently purchased the property and will install a program once intended for the Michael Road church.

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“It had been our plans to open something similar,” he said, adding that he and One Way Farm founder Barb Condo had comparable visions.

One Way Farm, which straddles the city of Fairfield and Fairfield Twp., closed in mid-2018 after continuously operating as a children’s home since 1976. In May 2018, it intended to operate as a support options for foster families, but it didn’t last long. In early 2018, Calvary Tabernacle started its City of Refuge Mission at the church with a mission to help those affected by the opioid epidemic.

Rice said that’s “part of what expedited our desire and push” to open a children’s home.

“The area’s so hit with the opioid epidemic. Kids finding their parents dead. What we’re wanting to do is to provide a safe continuity,” he said.

That includes keeping siblings together, which is permission the facility needs from the state, Rice said.

“I want to keep whole family units together,” he said. “It’s bad enough if the mother or father is no longer in the picture, you got two or three siblings who are then ripped apart from each other — and they don’t have much left.”

However, the state required the church to undergo significant renovations at its Michael Road campus. Eventually, they found the One Way Farm property was available.

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Now they’re just two weeks from opening a home that started for Rice as an idea 20-plus year ago.

“This has been a plan I really felt drawn to, but it wasn’t a ‘then’ idea. The idea wasn’t ready at that point,” he said. “We know this isn’t a whim, this has been an idea that’s been percolating for 25 years, and we’re going to be successful.”

On paper, the children’s home will have the same name as when it started in Madison Twp., but the City of Refuge Mission will just be the name on paper, Rice said. But for the community, they will do business as One Way Farm.

“Barb had come to us and asked if we would consider leaving the name the same,” he said. “There is such good will towards this place in the community, so that’s what we’re doing.”

Condo, 82, who stepped away from One Way Farm awhile before it closed due to health issues, will be involved in the restart of her life’s work, but in an advisory role and fundraiser.

“What I spent 40 years building will not be gone,” she said.

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Since 1976, One Way Farm, founded by Barb and Gerald Condo, helped upwards of 12,000 children and was an early adopter of pet therapy for the children, Condo said.

“I believed in what it was doing,” she said. “We were receiving so many …kids that the only thing I found that wanted to keep them from killing themselves was animals.”

The One Way Farm is expected to re-open in about two weeks, and Rice said was told to expect children the day after it opens. The home will be able to accommodate upwards of 25 children to start, he said.

While the home is still a couple of weeks from opening, the One Way Farm store, which Condo started, is open 9 to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

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