The vision for Vashti came through Annie Heath’s encounter with a homeless girl in the streets of Thomasville in 1903. A Methodist missionary, Miss Heath felt the call to create a home for and educate girls in need. Her vision came to reality through the generosity of Mr. Walter P. Blasingame, a prominent church member, who donated his boyhood home to the new mission in memory of his beloved mother, Mrs. Vashti Blasingame. The Vashti Industrial School for Girls, as it was then known, grew rapidly and in 1907, after outgrowing the house, the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church South purchased the property where Vashti stands today.
The new school now had the use of 65 acres and the former factory building previously owned by the Cubana City Cigar Company. Miss Heath, the school’s superintendent, converted the massive building into a spacious school and home for the girls whose numbers had grown to over 70 students by 1908. Vashti thrived as a girl’s school for more than 60 years. The verdant campus included a dairy farm, as well as vegetable and flower gardens. Cane syrup making was a favorite pastime for the girls. In 1953, the grand school building was remodeled and renamed Bishop Hall in honor E. E. Bishop, one of the school’s subsequent superintendents. To meet the changing needs of children in the local community, Vashti admitted its first boys in 1978 and became a special school and provider of residential care services for youth struggling with emotional and behavioral issues.
In 2007 Vashti added a Community Mental Health Program to offer in-clinic and in-home community mental health services to children and their families. More than a century later, the legacy of compassion continues, as we serve more than 250 children and their families throughout six counties in southwest Georgia each year, helping them to overcome despair, find peace, and become empowered to build a better life and future.