On Dec. 13, 1904, a sick and malnourished infant was found in a house in Frederiksted with her dead mother lying next to her. No one knew how long the infant had been there. She was just one more statistic that called attention to the deplorable conditions existing on St. Croix. In response to the pleas from the Danish Lutheran missionaries on the island urging the Danish Crown to respond to the dire needs of the local children, the Crown Princess of Denmark purchased a home in Frederiksted where sick and neglected children would be cared for. The malnourished infant became the first child to be admitted to Queen Louise Home on 45 Strand Street in Frederiksted.
The years that followed established Queen Louise Home in the community and were marked by rapid growth. Three years after its opening the Danish Lutheran Church purchased additional property both in Christiansted and Frederiksted. No. 57 Queen Street in Christiansted would serve as a second childcare center and the property at No. 24-27 Hospital Street in Frederiksted expanded the original home, becoming the Ebenezer Orphanage for girls. The three homes provided care and nurturing in a homelike atmosphere.
With the purchase of the islands by the United States also came the transfer of the program to the American Lutheran Church. It was subsequently handed over to the Virgin Islands Lutheran Welfare Society, an independent nonprofit organization, which became the Lutheran Social Services of the Virgin Islands (LSSVI). Since that time, the management of Queen Louise Home has remained in the care of LSSVI and continued its work in the community.
115 years later, LSSVI continues its mission by supporting neglected children but also housing and assisting individuals who are disabled, as well as low-income seniors. Programs also include childhood education and pregnancy support through its Early Head Start program, and disaster and recovery support through its partnership with Lutheran Disaster Response in times of disaster.
Throughout the journey, the Virgin Islands community has been an unfailing fountain of support and love. Thousands of community members have kept the doors open through generous gifts and selfless service, making personal and financial sacrifices that translate into hope and resilience to those in our care.
Over the next twelve days, LSSVI will retrace the footsteps of its incredible journey, featuring some of the amazing people that touched the lives and hearts of those who needed love and care the most. We invite you to follow our story on Facebook to learn more of service and love that our community celebrates this holiday season.