The Diakon Lutheran Fund

Changing the lives of children and youth since 1868

The Diakon Lutheran Fund today helps to make possible the types of services it once provided.

That’s because, as a legal entity, the Diakon Lutheran Fund is the same organization that operated the Tressler Orphans Home from 1868 through 1962 and then continued to provide and, eventually, fund programs for children, youth and families in the community.

That over 150-year history of service has touched and changed the lives of thousands of children and youth—a tradition of care that continues today.

As careful stewards, the Diakon Board of Directors oversees millions of dollars in assets, which generate interest income to ...

  • Help to bring together children and teens with foster and adoptive families—and then provide the supportive services necessary to make those families successful.
  • Offer mentoring and supportive services for older teens and young adults who need that guidance to remain on the road to success ... for whom there are often no other options.
  • Underwrite critical counseling and behavioral health care for children and families in crisis, particularly those with limited financial resources. 

By giving to the Diakon Lutheran Fund, you make a difference in the lives of hurting children and youth not only today but also in the future ... as interest income from gifts today helps to make services possible for decades to come.

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A near-century-and-one-half of service

The Tressler Orphans Home (later renamed the Tressler Lutheran Home for Children) arose immediately after the Civil War, when the Lutheran Church purchased a small private academy and orphanage from the Tressler family of Loysville, Pennsylvania. 

Over the following decades, the home served hundreds of children annually, growing into a community popularly known as “Tresslertown.” Serving a region that included central and eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland and surrounding states, the home became famous for its internal banking system, fire department, extensive vocational-training programs (including the printing of church envelopes for congregationsl across the nation) and it boys band, which toured each summer to raise funds for the institution. 

As the need for orphanages diminished, the home’s leadership created services to aid children in communities outside the home. These services included casework and foster care. In 1962, the Tressler board of trustees, acknowledging the changing face of children’s services, closed the home, selling the buildings and grounds the following year to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which today uses the site as a youth development center.

Always innovative, Tressler sought other ways to serve children and youths, developing a group home and creating one of the roots of today’s Diakon Adoption & Foster Care. The adoption program became one of the first in the nation to focus on the placement of children with special needs—and was selected by a national organization to train other service providers in adoption.

Based on its role in overseeing a significant endowment that arose from gifts and the sale of the orphanage, this part of the Tressler organizations eventually became the Tressler Lutheran Fund, a “supporting organization” for services provided by what today is known as Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries. In the 2000 affiliation and later merger that created Diakon family of organizations, the Tressler Lutheran Fund was renamed the Diakon Lutheran Fund. 

Today, the fund continues to manage assets that support Diakon services for children, families, adults of all ages and entire communities.