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Following the events of World War II, Brunswick local J.Ardell Nation had a vision to create “Boy’s Estate Georgia,” modeled after the famous “Boy’s Town” of Nebraska. This Estate was to be an orphanage for homeless boys across Georgia. In 1946 Mr. Nation obtained the title to a large swath of beautiful Coastal Georgia acreage and Boy’s Estate of Georgia was established. After many years of operation, the decision was made to include young women as well as boys and the name was changed to “Youth Estate.”

Postcard of Boys Estate, circa 1962.

Boys’ Estate chaplain, Mr. David Thrower, speaks to the boys in the James V. Carmichael Chapel. Our residential children have the option to attend weekly church services in this historic Chapel today.

Since 1996 the Estate has been operated by Morningstar Children and Family Services, Inc, which continues to support Mr. Nation’s original vision of caring for Georgia’s vulnerable youth. With the support of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and many churches all over Georgia, the campus was approved to serve up to 52 youth with developmental disabilities and intensive mental health needs. The organization has since expanded its impact on Georgia adolescents, adding a community counseling center in both Brunswick and Perry, GA, serving families in twelve area counties.

In December of 2017, the Board of Directors appointed Beth VanDerbeck as CEO of Morningstar. Mrs. VanDerbeck brought many years of management and non-profit leadership experience to the organization as well as a passion for providing the best possible care for youths in need. Since early 2018, leadership staff and the Board of Directors, with the generous support of community and foundation partners, have been engaged in renovating and restoring the aged building on campus. The goal is to provide the best homelike environment and counseling care, a sanctuary, for the children who make their way to the campus. Once the current campus renovation is complete, the goal is to grow forward, remaining a strong provider of home and healing for the growing number of Georgia’s children who need us.

Morningstar present day.


Read Trees and Citizens of Boys Estate, an original poem written by J. Ardell Nation in 1947.

About Morningstar

Morningstar Children and Family Services was established in 1996. Today we have a team of over 100 staff members serving hundreds of children annually.

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Morningstar was established on the old Boys Estate Campus. This campus has served children for over 55 years.

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Leadership Team

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Morningstar has been a fully accredited agency under CARF since 2007.

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Organizational Reports

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