Photo from Early 1900s


Meeting the Need for More Than a Century.

Before 1850, widows and orphans in Shelby County, Tenn., had nowhere to turn for food, shelter, clothing and care. That meant willing and compassionate citizens had to fill the gap. Sarah Leath was one of those citizens, and as a widow and mother herself, she took the lead to organize such a place—the home that would become Porter-Leath. Since its founding, Porter-Leath has remained passionately committed to serving at-risk children and families in Memphis. While both its name and mission have evolved with changing times and events, the focus has always been to serve Memphis’ most vulnerable citizens. Today Porter-Leath helps more than 10,000 low-income children and families annually with programs designed to meet their developmental, health and social needs at the earliest opportunity. Our mission is empowering children and families to achieve a healthy, optimal and independent lifestyle.

Expanding and Building for Today’s Children and Families.

Times have changed in Memphis, as have the goals and services at Porter-Leath. Today, war and disease are no longer the main cause of family disruption in our country. Now it can be conflicts within the families themselves—whether they are financial, emotional or social—that can cause disorder. Porter-Leath remains strong, however, serving as a safety net when possibilities for a brighter future may look dim. Porter-Leath now serves over 10,000 children and families every year through a variety of programs including residential services, foster and adoptive care, early childhood and parent education, senior services and more. The depth of services offered is constantly expanding and being enhanced to give at-risk families the best possible care. While the future brings more change, one certainty remains:  Porter-Leath will continue to provide the needed social services to at-risk children and families in Memphis and advancing the mission of its stalwart founders over 160 years ago. 

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