Thursday, October 19, 2017

Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo 2017

Methodist Children’s Home had a large group of students representing the Ag program this year during the Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo in Waco, Texas. Thirty-four students from the charter school, operated in partnership with University of Texas-University Charter School system, prepared and showed animals during the junior livestock show.

These students began working with their animals at the start of the school year in August. Many of the students were showing animals for the first time.

“I tell the kids that it is hard to show at the Heart O’ Texas first because it is such a big show,” said Steve Kruse, ag teacher. “The animals are just as scared as the students thus it is a learning experience for everyone. Go out there, watch the judge, listen to what the judge says about your project, but most of all, have fun and you’re a winner for being there.”

Results are listed below:

Steers: Limousin – Galen (3rd place); Shorthorn – Chris (4th); AOB – Iona (6th); Maine – Marisa (7th)

Swine: BOPB – Julio (4th), Samaya (5th); Duroc – Roger (2nd), Kiayani (3rd), Danny (5th), Blake (8th); Yorkshire – Bryce (7th), Adam (8th), Ladarius (8th), Landon (11th); Cross – Phillip (7th), Sam (9th); Hampshire – Noah (8th)

Goats:  Dustin – 6th, Jackson – 8th, Lucas – 11th, Triston – 12th, Camray – 14th

Sheep:  Hair sheep – Layla (10th), Faith (11th), Duane (14th); Medium wool – Jaelyne (12th); Southdown – Niki (8th), Christina (9th), Juliana (10th), Adrianna (12th), Brittney, Dathan, Sai; FWX – D’nayja

Creative Arts projects: Gabe – 1st; Keyon – 1st; Tristen – 1st; Mikey – 4th; Jose – 5th

The Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo took place from Oct. 4-13 at Extraco Events Center in Waco. Several other local schools also competed in the junior livestock show. Congratulations to all our kids who participated in this show!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

MCH Golf Classic 2017

Twenty-two teams competed in the 2017 MCH Golf Classic on Oct. 13 to support the ministry of Methodist Children’s Home (MCH). The annual fundraiser was held at Twin Rivers Golf Club in Waco.

The winning team of Chris Goss, Chase Chapman, Stormy Reeves and Cliff Thorman took home trophies and Titleist golf bags as their prize. Other prizes included Titleist Pro V1 golf balls and an assortment of prize drawings including tickets to Baylor athletic events donated by Baylor IMG, a gift bag donated by Baylor golf, and several restaurant gift cards. The MCH Boys Ranch also donated several student-made items such as a cedar chest, light stand, wind chimes and fire pit. Sykora Family Ford also sponsored the hole-in-one contest on the course.

MCH is thankful for all our sponsors who supported us this year: Gold sponsors – Insurors of Texas, Magnolia Foundation, John W. Erwin General Contractor; Silver sponsor – State Farm Insurance, Mike McKenzie; Bronze sponsors – Naman, Smith, Howell and Lee, Dubois Furniture, Mark Olinger, First Baptist Woodway, and Honey’s Roofing; and several hole and other sponsors.

Integ provided signage, banners and player gifts for the tournament. Drinks on the course were provided by Coca-Cola. Players were treated to dinner after their round provided by Rudy’s BBQ with drinks and dessert by McAlister’s Deli.

“We are grateful for the support of each corporate sponsor and individual that made the MCH Golf Classic a success,” said Kelly Lawson, special gifts coordinator at MCH. “Not only did we have fun out on the golf course, more importantly, the MCH Golf Classic was an opportunity to support the incredibly important and life-changing work of Methodist Children’s Home. It was a special honor to have three students from MCH participate in the tournament this year.”

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Methodist Children’s Home receives Gold Seal from Guidestar

Methodist Children’s Home recently received the Gold Seal of Transparency designation from Guidestar, the world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations.

More than 8 million visitors visit each year to find information on nonprofit organizations for the purpose of research, community collaboration and charitable giving. Less than 1 percent of nonprofits listed on Guidestar have achieved the Gold level, noted Tim Brown, president and CEO of Methodist Children’s Home.

“Receiving the gold level designation from Guidestar speaks to the commitment we carry to conduct our work with the utmost integrity and transparency,” Brown said. “It reflects the commitment to excellence found in our staff, executive leadership and board of directors. Most importantly, it shines a light on the difference we are making in the lives of thousands of children, youth and families across Texas and New Mexico.”

Earlier this year, Methodist Children’s Home received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the highest rating available from the nation’s largest independent charity evaluator.

“It is important for our community members and potential donors to find in-depth information about our goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress,” Brown said. “Carrying a four-star rating from Charity Navigator and the Gold Seal of Transparency from Guidestar gives the public the assurance of our commitment to integrity and best practices.”

Monday, October 2, 2017

MCH Family Outreach in Tyler teams up with other agencies for annual conference

Brooke Davilla, director of MCH Family Outreach in Waco
gave two presentations during the Tyler conference.
Five staff members from MCH Family Outreach shared their expertise during presentations at the annual East Texas Network for Children training conference on Sept. 11-12. Around 300 people attended the conference held at Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Tyler, including social workers, mental health professionals, CPS personnel, probation officers, foster parents, and other direct care staff in the industry who serve children and families.

Aaron Williams, director of MCH Family Outreach in Tyler, spoke on “The Enduring Race: Dealing with Oppositional Children and Teens in Foster Care.” Three Tyler case managers, Kristy George, Niya Brown and Suzy King, presented as a group on “Foster Care Normalcy Training.” Brooke Davilla, director of MCH Family Outreach in Waco, gave two presentations, “The Caregiver Triad: It Takes All Three” and “Trauma Wise Care: Realizing, Recognizing and Responding to the Effects of Trauma.” Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) also served as a sponsor for the conference.

“It’s important for us as an agency to connect and network with other agencies doing similar things,” said Williams. “These conferences are a good way to connect and network and with our presentations, it is good to see that MCH is leading through instructing and bringing legitimate material to the table.”

Williams has been involved in the ETNC conferences for several years and this year was his second in a row to present. The theme of this year’s conference, organized by ETNC board members, was “Racing Toward a Better Future.” ETNC was established 30 years ago when representatives of East Texas public and private agencies got together to discuss strategies for improving client services and communication. The network now provides annual, low cost training to professionals each year in the region and surrounding areas.

Aaron Williams, director of MCH Family Outreach
in Tyler, spoke about oppositional children.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

New growth and vision for the 2017 MCH Praise Team

As a way to have more youth involvement with the spiritual programming at Methodist Children’s Home (MCH), the Spiritual Development team recently held auditions for the MCH Praise Team. More than 35 students auditioned for the roles, the most MCH has had in more than 13 years. 

Open positions included instrumentals, tech, spoken word/rap/poetry, dramatic scripture reading, vocals, dance, and worship choir. The wealth of talent at MCH is so great that some students auditioned for more than one role.

Auditioning students had to interview and be prepared to answer why they wanted to be a part of praise team and what they hoped praise team would add to MCH chapel worship.

Additionally, instrumentalists needed to be prepared to play one of two specified songs, vocalists and Worship Choir needed to be prepared to perform one of two specified songs while rap/spoken word/poetry needed to be prepared with a short poem or verse about any aspect of prayer that was real and meaningful to them. For dance auditions, praise dancers were taught a short dance and performed two given options.

“I knew we had talented students so I was not surprised by the auditions,” said Kimberly Clark, director of spiritual development. “However, I was blown away by the interviews! We have some students who are raw, honest and rich in faith. We made a point this year to look for students that were really interested in growing in faith; students who understood the purpose of worship and who were willing to take on leadership inside and outside of worship.”

Clark, along with the other three members of the Spiritual Development team, said that they had to make some very tough decisions this year.

“We did not accept many talented students because they were not ready spiritually,” she said. “It is not about being seen and heard but pointing the congregation to the ONE who knows and loves them.”

Overall, Clark said the Spiritual Development team is excited about cultivating a group of leaders that want to effect a positive change in the MCH community.

“Students want to do what is right and we think we are working toward creating a peer culture that encourages good choices instead of drama and judgement,” said Clark, speaking on behalf of the Spiritual Development team. “We are also excited to see students participate that we never imagined would want to be part of Praise Team.”

Rehearsals for each element of the Praise Team started in September and will soon be integrated into Sunday worship services.  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

MCH students and charter school teachers welcome new initiatives and programs this school year.

The charter school on the Waco campus of Methodist Children’s Home, operating in partnership with the University of Texas – University Charter School system, started its 14th year on August 15. In June 2017, the school graduated its 300th student and is continuing to implement a new initiative and new programs in hopes of hitting more milestones.

This year the charter school is focusing on Restorative Discipline. According to Michelle Arocha, assistant principal, “Restorative Discipline is a whole school approach to building school climate and addressing student behavior.”

Every day teachers are allotted an extra 15 minutes in their class period for a proactive circle program.

“This is a place for teachers to check in with students, to see what they have learned in class during the week and to see if they have questions about course content,” Arocha said. “Every student in the circle has the opportunity to have their voice heard and know that their opinion is valued.”

When it comes to conflict, restorative discipline also uses the circle program to foster accountability rather than punishment.  

In the event of conflict, “parties have to meet in a restorative circle and discuss what happened,” Arocha explained. “All parties then come to an agreement for how they need to treat each other and what needs to happen moving forward. There is some kind of agreed upon restitution to the party that was harmed and then the facilitator of the circles check in on the parties in the following weeks to make sure the agreement in being kept.”

Echoing the restorative discipline initiative of fostering a healthy school climate, the charter school has been given the theme of Super HEROES (Helping Everyone Reach their Own Educational Success) to use this school year.

Further, the school was tasked to come up with their own campus super heroes. The charter school decided on two heroes, Diamond Diggers, as they are always looking for ‘diamonds’ in their faculty, students and staff, and Data Divas, who make sure that the school helps everyone become successful.

Additionally, the school has introduced another program to foster a positive environment for the students called “Write Your Principal.” This is a way for students to directly and anonymously contact the principals and administration by writing questions and comments on a piece of paper and dropping them off in a locked mailbox that is read daily, Arocha explained.

The final program taking place this year focuses on teachers and staff. All charter school leadership is participating in a book study on The Fundamental 5 which presents the best teaching practices.

As the charter school implements and embraces new initiatives this year, Arocha said it is their goal that 100 percent of teachers daily utilize proactive circles, empowering and correcting techniques and the practices learned from The Fundamental 5.

“I am most excited for our new faculty and staff to embrace our initiatives this year,” said Arocha. “I think that utilizing all of these programs will increase student achievement, create a positive climate and will support our entire community.”

MCH wishes the students and teachers much success as they journey through this new school year. Go Bulldogs!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

MCH Family Outreach reaches out to families during Back-to-School events

As summer ends, some families are faced with the financial burden of back-to-school preparations such as new clothes for their growing child, school supplies, or scheduling last minute hair or dental appointments. As a way to show support to families in our communities as well as build connections with other area nonprofits and businesses, MCH Family Outreach offices look for opportunities to be a part of back-to-school events.

“Participating in back-to-school events in these communities, whether our own or in collaboration with community partners, allows us to offer an event to clients of our programs and others where families can come together, learn about helpful resources, and get a start on school supplies for the children in their families,” said Kelly Smith, outreach administrator for the Western region. “These events strengthen our partnerships with other community organizations and increase awareness of MCH services as well.”

Below are a few examples of ways our outreach offices partnered with families in their communities as they prepared for the new school year:

Bryan/College Station:  The Bryan Outreach office passed out backpacks to those who were unable to purchase the necessary items for their children. They filled up different backpacks based on the varying school lists and attached the list of contents to each backpack in order to customize the service to the need of the child. Bryan/College Station also set up a booth at the Bryan Independent School District (ISD) pre-K and Kindergarten registration to offer families information on services. College Station ISD included an MCH information card in packets handed out to families.

Corpus Christi: Staff attended the Kingsville Housing Authority back-to-school event and passed out school supplies to children. They also attended the Portland First United Methodist Church 4th Annual Back-to-School Health Screening which provided free annual and sports physicals for children. Adults were also provided free health screenings by vendors.

Grace United Methodist Church also donated school supply items as well as personal hygiene, diapers, and wipes for MCH families. Also, a previous client secured sponsorship slots for MCH children to receive a free haircut, school supplies and a complete head-to-toe outfit. The event was sponsored by A1 Finest Barbershop and Herrman & Herrman law firm.

El Paso: For the second consecutive year, MCH Family Outreach in El Paso participated in the Ysleta Independent School District Back-to-School Rally on Aug. 19 where 2,000 backpacks were handed out to children from Ysleta and El Paso. MCH Family Outreach donated more than 1,000 notebooks, 590 composition books and 300 packages of crayons.

“Kudos to the El Paso staff for all their hard work and dedication to keep the assembly line running smoothly as they were stuffing backpacks,” said Zahire Gonzalez-Villa, director of MCH Family Outreach in El Paso. “It was a truly heartwarming experience to see the smiles on all the children’s faces as they received their backpacks stuffed with supplies. A special thank you also to the Parkland Football Team and Natalie Hurtado for all their help. It was much appreciated!”

Houston: MCH Family Outreach in Houston participated in the ABC Dental back-to-school event on July 29 to provide school supplies and health screenings for children in need. The event included vendors, a bounce house, snow cones and local emergency teams with fire trucks and police robots. MCH Family Outreach received a recognition award during the event for its support of the community.

MCH Family Outreach also participated in the Back-to-School Extravaganza on Aug. 25, hosted by Houston Independent School District ­– Homeless Education Office, to provide backpacks, shoes, school supplies, health screenings, immunizations, fresh produce, and assistance with applying for Medicaid, CHIP, and SNAP. On Sept. 9, they will also be a part of the Aldine-Harris County – Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support’s 14th annual Family Strengthening Conference. The conference is a community service event to raise awareness of health, family issues, and many more situations that grandparents, kinship, and single parents face with raising children and the entire family. Participants will be offered free health screenings, school supplies, education materials designed to promote personal health and well-being, and a variety of resources from keynote speakers and agencies.

Killeen:  MCH Family Outreach in Killeen facilitated activities for children during back-to-school events at Grace United Methodist Church in Copperas Cove on Aug. 13 and at Y Armed Services in Copperas Cove on Aug. 26. The office also participated in the Head Start Open House on two dates and the back-to-school event at Bell County Juvenile Services on Aug. 18 where they had activities and giveaways for families.

Las Cruces: Gap families from MCH Family Outreach in Las Cruces received clothes, shoes, school supplies, and a backpack during an event hosted by the Las Cruces Gospel Rescue Mission Clothing Room on Aug. 10. Also, on Aug. 11 members of the Caregiver Empowerment Group were recipients of backpack donations from UnitedHealth Care and Unified Prevention Coalition. Las Cruces outreach staff added school supplies to the backpacks. The Las Cruces Police Department visited to talk to families about safety and provide children with identification cards. Molina Healthcare shared information about their services which encouraging children to ride their “Smoothie Bike.” Information about services was also provided to families by New Mexico Kids Resource and Referral program, UnitedHealth Care, United Prevention Coalition and Las Cruces Public School Attendance/Student Services.

On Aug. 12, Las Cruces outreach families were part of the “Shop with a Cop” event hosted by Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge #8. Children were given a voucher and shopped with officers to purchase back-to-school clothing and supplies. Families will also shop with officers again in December.

San Antonio:  On Aug. 16, MCH Family Outreach staff in San Antonio worked with Coker United Methodist Church during a backpack distribution event for families receiving food assistance from the church’s wellness center. MCH staff also participated in the Alamo Area Council of Government’s back-to-school voucher event at the San Antonio Food Bank.

Tyler: MCH Family Outreach in Tyler served underprivileged families in the community during the “School is Cool” event in Tyler. This event offered school supplies, discounts for school uniforms and other clothing items. Many organizations, local radio stations and food vendors came out to promote their services and provided food and refreshments to participants. 

Thank you to all the organizations who partnered with us in serving families this year during back-to-school events!