In the Beginning…
In 1980 Nancy and Gene Edgin and Nancy’s son Ernest Howard were living in a five bedroom, 5,000 square foot home on five beautiful acres just outside the city limits in North Salinas, California. Realizing that they had more room than they could ever use, a family decision was made to share their home with disadvantaged foster youth.
Research told them that the foster youth they would be raising would come to them from homes where they’d been neglected and or abused. Nancy and Gene knew that these youth must be desperately longing for a sense of belonging to something genuine, something that made them feel worthy and valuable, something they likely had never felt before. The Edgins’ decided early on that they would raise each foster youth as their own.
After three years …
The name “Peacock Acres” originated when one single male peacock, full of long colorful fanning feathers, unexpectedly walked-up the driveway to the house and made himself at home.
It was decided that no one would attempt to run him off or pen him in. As time went by it was apparent that the peacock himself had decided to stay. The children were delighted as he routinely strutted around the property while projecting a presence of confidence and ownership in his newly found home.
The kids named this peacock “Paul” and he became a focal point of the home as all involved respected his beauty and certainty about being a part of the family.
Not long after Paul’s arrival the family agreed to find a female companion for him, and as the seasons passed, Paul and his new mate began populating the Group Home with other generations of Peacocks. As of last count Peacock Acres is home to over 50 peacocks.
Family Life in the Therapeutic Group Home …
Nancy and Gene worked directly with the youth, ensuring on a daily basis that important tasks such as homework and chores were completed.
Nancy and Gene were great animal lovers so of course there was always a lot to do. They had a cow, a steer, goats, geese, pigs, guinea hens, dogs and cats. Nancy milked the goats and cow every morning and night, and she would make her own butter from the milk she received. The chores that everyone took part in were a great use of time for the youth, and it helped them learn responsibility and a commitment to the animals they cared for.
The Peacock Acres parenting philosophy was to approach the challenges that all families face as a team, and to celebrate the accomplishments of each youth as a group. These celebrations often included Friday night dinners at the family’s favorite Mexican Restaurant “Rosita’s” in Salinas which everyone eagerly looked forward to.
In 1989 Nancy and Gene purchased a 34’ Bounder Motor Home and began taking all the youth on a two week road trip during the summer months. Every year they traveled across the western states, camping and seeing the sites, and of course the kids were thrilled to be a part of it. From Nancy and Gene’s perspective, there were no limits to what they would provide for these temporary members of their family.
As a result of this style of parenting, the youth were free to safely process their “acting out” behaviors and evolve from their personal traumas. The kids developed a healthy reliance on each other, and an understanding for each person’s unique qualities and skills that contributed to the whole family.
The Family Clings Together …
In 1990 Gene was diagnosed with cancer and in 1992 he passed away.
The whole family was understandably devastated by this loss but found support and solace in their shared grief. Together Nancy and Ernest agreed to continue the great work that she and Gene had begun.
Filling the Demand for Quality Foster Care …
Ernest Howard took over the operation of Peacock Acres in 1989 and soon opened a second level 7 group home for boys.
This second home was located only a few miles from the first, thus they were nicknamed “PA I” and “PA II.” The second location provided care for 6 more foster youth in the same country-like environment and allowed both homes to have shared activities and close contact with each other.
Peacock Acres currently offers four unique residential programs designed to meet the growing needs of foster youth.
Today, Ernest Howard remains the Executive Director and head of Peacock Acres and Nancy Edgin still works with (and spoils!) the kids.