Friday, August 11, 2017

Independent Living residents get tips on money management

Young adults in the Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) Independent Living program (ILP) got valuable advice from representatives of Wells Fargo during six-week money management courses. Personal bankers came to Clay Commons apartment complex to lead the groups in lessons such as earning money, spending smart, saving money and building credit.

The course was offered at different times on two days of the week, repeating curriculum for the week so that all residents interested were able to attend. ILP residents Tameka and Chrislynn, who recently graduated from MCH charter school in May, attended the courses and felt they were getting great advice from the Wells Fargo representatives.

“It helps me with learning how to budget my money,” Chrislynn said.

Tameka added, “It is teaching us a lot of things we need to know in life and how to better prepare.”
Wells Fargo branch manager Julie Cowser, who helped teach the classes along with personal bankers Tabatha Turner, Larry Maxwell and Annamarie Eckenrode, said this opportunity came about after she reached out to MCH in an effort to give back to the community.

“Our branch stays involved with the community and I was searching nonprofits in our area,” Cowser said. “When I saw MCH I was excited about the opportunities to help students.”

Cowser worked with Jonathan Olivarez, Independent Living coordinator for MCH, in scheduling the classes. The students follow a course curriculum from Wells Fargo that gives real-world advice geared toward young adults on topics such as saving money on your grocery bill, determining what rent you can afford and purchasing a vehicle.

“These financial education sessions are important to our residents because they help them better understand what will be expected to successfully transition to independence, and it outlines various steps they can take to ensure success,” Olivarez said. “By partnering with Wells Fargo, it helps residents build relationships outside of MCH, which is crucial to long-term success, and it lends credibility to the things they hear from our staff because they are hearing many of the same things from an outside agency.”

The Independent Living program serves MCH graduates as they transition into adulthood. Young adults first live at homes located at the back of the Waco campus before moving to the Clay Commons apartments located off campus. They receive guidance from MCH staff as they work and/or attend advanced education while taking steps toward becoming independent.

Tabatha Turner and Larry Maxwell of Wells Fargo were two of the instructors for the course.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Core Value Award for Hope - Austin Brown

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) annually recognizes staff who exemplify our Core Values. Staff are nominated by their peers and recognized at an all-staff meeting.

The Core Values for MCH are:
Christian Principles
Responsibility Growth

Austin Brown, clinical therapist, received the 2017 Core Award for Hope at the spring all-staff meeting. The recipient of the Core Award for Hope is someone who believes in the possibilities of the future.

According to his nomination, Brown embodies the Core Value of Hope through his innate ability to connect with and offer hope to the youth at MCH. Even through behavior meltdowns he is a calming presence and someone who the youth trust with their challenges.

Outside of his work with our youth, Brown was also a vital member of the mentoring committee and volunteered to mentor a new staff member as part of a pilot project. He set aside time to connect with this new staff member and help them connect with others at MCH.

Julie Spiech, associate administrator for the Waco campus and Brown’s supervisor, gave another example of Brown’s repertoire with the youth.

“Another youth on campus requested Austin as her therapist after just one interaction with him during an acute crisis,” she said. “This young lady did not connect easily with anyone in her home, but something about Austin made it easy for her to want to come back and talk to him again.”

Charlsie Whitney, program administrator for residential services, said Brown provides family and individual counseling for MCH residents and their families in a hopeful and inspiring manner. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

U.M. ARMY 2017

Seven youth from Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) had an experience they will always remember during the United Methodist Action Reach-Out Mission by Youth (U.M. ARMY) trip July 16-22. MCH representatives work alongside volunteers from Kingwood United Methodist Church for this annual mission trip.

According to its website, U.M. ARMY “provides an opportunity for youth and adults to experience Christian growth through service to others.” Volunteers provide home repairs and maintenance for low income, elderly and/or disabled homeowners who are unable to make the repairs themselves. This year, the group traveled to Port Arthur, Texas, to assist families who were referred by social workers from a home health agency.  
Kingwood representatives work with MCH staff to determine groups for the mission trip. The young people from MCH are spread out into different groups to work alongside adult team leaders and youth from Kingwood and other church youth groups. Ron Britton, spiritual development minister, accompanied the residents this year. It was his 15th mission trip with MCH, and Britton said every trip he looks forward to watching the youth transform and grow through their experience in helping others.

“It is a tangible way to change someone’s life,” Britton said about the mission trips. “I love getting to see our students experience that [because it also] creates a situation where we explore their faith.”

MCH youth built wheelchair ramps, painted houses, reinforced porches, and helped out in the church kitchen throughout the week. Gail, a resident at MCH, attended U.M. ARMY for the first time this year.
“You feel a sense of joy to come help people who need it and don’t have the resources,” she said. “It is a beautiful thing to see them get that freedom. It is all about the people we are impacting through these missions.”

MCH’s connection with Kingwood UMC began through their senior pastor who developed a love for the ministry, and the relationship has continued to grow. Kingwood sponsors MCH residents each year so that they can attend mission trips.

“For Kingwood, they love the opportunity to give our kids a chance to do something they’ve never done and be there with them,” Britton said. “For our kids, it is surprising to them how other people are willing to do things for them that they don’t know. During the trip, they are able to step into that environment of openness and comradery and by the end of the week, they’ve accepted it and enjoy it.”

Throughout the week, the friendships between the volunteers grow as they work hard during the day, worship in the evenings, and celebrate God’s love as they give back to others.

“With our kids, I’m hoping they grow in their faith, and understand and appreciate that they are not the only ones who hurt or have problems,” Britton said. “They come to realize that and it leads to growth in their faith and in the way they view people and humanity in general.” 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Students have a day on the job at a local retail store

A group of six Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) youth were able to receive tips, personal insight and hands-on job training at a seminar on July 18  hosted by Waco’s local Old Navy store. The job training seminar, which took place at the local Waco Old Navy storefront, was hosted by Old Navy representatives.

The four-hour seminar was both informative and interactive, according to Codi Stafford, MCH recreation coordinator.

Youth listened to Old Navy employees share about their line of work in retail. Further, the employees walked students step-by-step through how to get a job. Then, students were able to be hands-on in the seminar by participating in mock job interviews, training on registers and inventory, and how to speak professionally with customers.

Kimberly Bobbitt, recreation director at MCH, said the event was a great opportunity for MCH youth to “gain some hands-on job training experience and [gain] clearer understanding of what it looks like to get and retain employment at a basic job level.”

According to Old Navy’s website, Old Navy employees believe that “business communities need to work together to thrive.” In turn, as an organization, they focus their community programs on areas that line up with their business expertise. “We think we can make the biggest difference by advancing women, teens, and young adults and supporting volunteers,” the company states.

It is Bobbitt’s hope that through this experience “students gained wider understanding of insight into what the process of getting a job looks like, as well as what a ‘day on the job’ might look like.”

“Often our students are told what it takes to get a job and what behavior is needed to keep one,” Bobbitt said. “But it is not often that they get to experience a day on the job and get the hands-on experience to back up these words.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Core Value Award for Hope - Dr. Elise Pinney

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) annually recognizes staff who exemplify our Core Values. Staff are nominated by their peers and recognized at an all-staff meeting.

The Core Values for MCH are:
Christian Principles

Dr. Elise Pinney, director of psychological services, received the 2017 Core Award for Hope at the spring all-staff meeting. The recipient of the Core Award for Hope is someone who believes in the possibilities of the future.

According to her nomination, Dr. Pinney cares deeply about the safety and well-being of all our youth. She exemplifies the Core Value of Hope in the way she helps youth find an ideal balance of both structure and nurture to help them realize their full potential in life. She does this with a caring, compassionate and genuine demeanor which make youth feel heard and trusted.

Dr. Pinney meets with youth on a weekly basis to provide them support and encouragement on their goals and also handles many acute situations when our youth are in crisis.

Through her personable and caring approach, Dr. Pinney is able to quickly establish connections with youth in order to provide them a sense of felt-safety and comfort. She instills in them hope to help them thrive in our program.

Julie Spiech, associate administrator and Dr. Pinney’s supervisor, said she had the utmost respect for Dr. Pinney and the way she has worked to offer hope to those in the MCH community for many years.

A quote form Austin Brown, clinical therapist, further sums up Dr. Pinney’s impact on MCH: “It has been an honor for me to work with and learn from Dr. Pinney. She is always quick to serve as needs arise and she does so with a consistent calmness and stability that puts those around her at ease. She is someone who I think embodies the core values that we strive for as an organization.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Methodist Children’s Home again receives four-star rating

Methodist Children’s Home on July 1, 2017, received another four-star rating by Charity Navigator – the highest rating available from America’s largest independent charity evaluator, according to Tim Brown, president and CEO of MCH.

“Any success is based upon a steadfast commitment to service and excellence to which we are called, as well as accountability to those we serve and to those who believe in our life-changing mission and support us through their generosity,” said Brown.

 According to leadership of Charity Navigator, only a quarter of rated charities have achieved the distinction of a four-star rating.

“Attaining a four-star rating verifies that Methodist Children’s Home exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in their area of work,” said Michael Thatcher, president and CEO of Charity Navigator. “This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets Methodist Children’s Home apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.”

Thatcher explained that donors today desire greater accountability, transparency and for concrete results from charity evaluators and “the intent of our work is to provide donors with essential information to give them greater confidence in both the charitable decisions that they make and the nonprofit sector.”

“We are grateful to receive this outstanding rating because we take seriously the relationship with our faithful supporters and the trust they place in us as we go about our ministry,” Brown said. “This is a tremendous affirmation of our entire organization.”

Friday, July 7, 2017

Summer Break Week 2017

Late June and early July is a time for youth at MCH to have fun and to participate in classic summer recreation activities. Summer break week at MCH is a time to add a period of extra flexibility to schedules in the middle of summer.

Classic activities our youth are able to participate in during break weeks include swimming, fishing, kayaking, hiking through Cameron Park, taking a stroll on Baylor’s campus, horseback riding, eating snow cones, and bowling. Youth are also introduced to new and creative activities such as slip-n-slide kickball, water sponge dodgeball and Larping – a type of interactive role-playing game in which the participants portray their own characters through physical action using props. All of these activities are brought to our kids by the MCH Recreation staff.

Summer break weeks are meant to be fun, engaging and energizing, preparing youth for another round of their normal summer programs. This week also provides a time for students to spend daily time off campus. Codi Stafford, recreation coordinator, stated that her favorite moment “is seeing the kids leave all their troubles behind when we go off campus and just have fun.”

It is the hope of MCH that youth are able to have experiences that they may not have been able to have at home. MCH wants youth to able to enjoy the joys of childhood during every season and forget about the challenges they face.

A highlight of the summer for Jr., a resident of MCH, is fishing and all that it entails.
“Worms are my favorite part of summer because they wiggle and because you can fish with them,” he said. “I love to fish because I don’t get to do it too much and because it is a chill adventure.”

Other young people shared that what they most looked forward to on summer breaks is getting to relax and have a stress-free schedule, as well as swimming and visiting a local water park.

“Swimming is my favorite,” said 13-year-old Christina. “I like to swim because you can just relax and do whatever you want in the water. I also look forward to going to water parks! I want to try the tall slide this year! I think I’m brave enough.” 

Aside from all the fun and games and possible thrills, summer break week serves as another great opportunity for MCH staff to continue to model and build trusting relationships with youth, keying in on a few of our core values, growth and relationships. For Stafford, “building trusting relationships with the students in a playful and safe way” is what she looks forward to most.