Thursday, April 20, 2017

Core Value Award for Christian Principles - Alicia Carter

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 of MCH are:
Christian Principles

Alicia Carter, director of the MCH Family Outreach office in Albuquerque, received the 2017 Core Award for Christian Principles at the all-staff meeting in March. The recipient for the Core Award for Christian Principles is someone who applies the principles of the Christian faith which serve as the foundation for this ministry.

Carter embodies the Core Value of Christian Principles through her active and solid relationship with Jesus Christ and how her faith intentionally affects her work and relationships.

In her work, Carter is known to measure her work and decisions against God’s Word and uses examples from the Word to encourage and teach the team.

Carter also pushes others to see past the petty things of the world and see the real reason why we do what we do.

Carter is quick to realize when she has made a mistake and asks for forgiveness. And she is someone who others can truly look up to and visibly see the Lord at work in and through her.

According to Albuquerque case manager Allisya Otto, “Alicia not only serves as leader and offers encouragement, but is also a sounding board. The hope starts with us to overflow to communities and MCH as a whole. We are the hands and feet of hope given freely, like Christ, and it all starts with our director, Alicia Carter.”

Kristal Hansen, also a case manager in Albuquerque, said Alicia exemplifies the Core Value of Christian Principles because “she is empathetic and at the same time a strong leader through love, grace and empowerment of her employees. Simply put, to me, she acts like Jesus would.”

Kelly Smith, administrator for the Western region of MCH Family Outreach, said Alicia lives and works the principles of her faith. She believes her work and work of MCH is a mission, and shares her gifts unselfishly.

Monday, April 17, 2017

MCH Family Outreach offices advocate for Child Abuse Prevention

Corpus Christi partnered with several other local agencies
for its pinwheel garden.
MCH Family Outreach in Abilene, Dallas and Corpus Christi partnered with other local nonprofits in planting pinwheel gardens to raise awareness for child abuse prevention. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the gardens serve as a reminder to the community to take a stand against child abuse and show support for local agencies serving children.

This year, MCH Family Outreach in Abilene partnered with McMurry University for their garden, while the Dallas office partnered with First United Methodist Church of Sherman whose children will help plant the garden late in the month. MCH Family Outreach in Corpus Christi teamed up with multiple agencies including the Education Service Center – Region 2, HOPES program (Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support), BCFS-Health and Human Services, and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for the awareness campaign. Their garden is located at the CASA building.

“I am excited about this year’s growth in sponsorship,” said Marisol Gomez, director of MCH Family Outreach in Corpus Christi. “We have more agencies that offer prevention services coming together to share with the community all that we do. The more we can make the community aware of our services and show that help is within reach, the more hope we can offer to a family in need,” Gomez said.

The gardens are part of an initiative called Pinwheels for Prevention that began in 2008 by Prevent Child Abuse America, a national organization who work to prevent abuse and neglect of our nation’s children. The pinwheel is the national symbol for child abuse prevention, signifying the “happy childhoods all children deserve.”

MCH Family Outreach supports children and families through early intervention and family preservation services including programs for in-home case management, parent education, and support for grandparents raising their grandchildren. MCH now serves 13 communities through our outreach offices.

Corpus staff helped plant the pinwheels.

MCH Family Outreach in Abilene partnered with McMurry University.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Supporting our employees

As part of Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) strategic plan, the Human Resource department has been charged with focusing on employee recruitment and retention and look for ways to improve agency practices.

As part of the plan, the Human Resources department is researching best practices and evaluating the agency’s methods, strategies and processes in an effort to expand recruitment outreach, empower new employee engagement and support supervisors as they build their teams.

The department has significantly evolved since 1992 when Judy Broadway, vice president for human resources and Mary Rollins, employee compliance manager were members of what was called, The Personnel Department.

“When I came to MCH we employed approximately 100 people,” said Broadway. “Today we employ more than 360 staff in various roles throughout Texas and New Mexico.”

In recent years, the department has added staff members Karina Valencia, employee recruiter; Anita Tovar, administrative services associate; Miranda Pena, employee benefits manager; and Jean Wright, strategic recruitment manager.

Wright’s position will focus in part on developing strategies to recruit and retain employees that reflect MCH’s service population and communities, a goal in the current strategic plan.

“I think the addition of this position demonstrates the agency’s commitment to progress and improvement,” said Wright. “I consider this an opportunity to invest in the future of our employees and indirectly impact the children, youth and families we serve.”

Through agency efforts like these, employees also have the opportunities to grow and reach their potential by participating in higher education opportunities and through their meaningful work every day. The department is currently seeking feedback from employees to find ways to strengthen their effort toward these goals.

“I feel blessed to have been a part of this ministry for 25 years and witness the wonderful growth in service to our youth and families,” added Broadway.

Monday, April 3, 2017

MCH students get high marks at district competition

Hard work paid off for Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) students who performed in the Texas Christian Athletic Fellowship (TCAF) competition in March. The students prepared their performances for months and received high scores for their efforts. MCH students competed in choir, drumline, dance, drama, and cheer.

“We like to participate in events like this because it allows the students to work toward achieving a goal,” said Jill Sims, recreation coordinator and choir instructor. “Also, it shows them the benefit of hard work and dedication, gives them a broader worldview as they travel and connect with students from other parts of Texas, and prepares them professionally as they gain public and interpersonal communication skills through professional connections.

“Events like this also give the students a positive view of themselves and each other as they realize that they can not only achieve their dreams, but can collaborate with others as a team to invest in something that they will remember for a lifetime,” Sims said.
The choir and drumline received an Excellent rating while two vocal soloists received Superior ratings and advanced to the finals. One of the soloists received a perfect score and several middle school students were able to receive high marks competing at the high school level. Here are the results:

Group Performance – Excellence Rating (Plaque)
Vocal Solos:
Nikki – Superior Medal (Received a perfect score), Advanced to Finals
Tianna – Superior Medal (1 point from receiving a perfect score), Advanced to Finals
Kiayani – Excellence Ribbon
Shelby – Excellence Ribbon
Layla – Good Ribbon
Leah – Good Ribbon
Iona – Good Ribbon
Faith – Good Ribbon

Ensemble – Excellence Ribbon
Drumline Solos:
Faith – Good Ribbon
Rebecca – Good Ribbon

Dance Solos:
Rainn – Good Ribbon
Marisa – Good Ribbon

Ben – Superior Medal (3 points from receiving a perfect score)
Nikki – Excellence Ribbon

Earned two plaques in the Exhibition category
Varsity members – Iyhanna, Tremya, Nikkie, Edwina, Adrianna
JV members – Christina, Gabi, Kiayani, Rebecca

The students were led by Sims (choir), recreation assistant Matt Hagestuen (drumline, drama), and recreation assistant Kellie Bennett (dance, cheer). Students practiced their entries by performing for staff and students during a concert on May 24. 

“The kids felt accomplished and had a sense of belonging as they worked together to achieve their goals,” Sims said. “As I met with students individually to discuss their scores after the competition, they expressed their sense of accomplishment as well as noted and asked if we could work on areas of improvement for next year.” 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spiritual Development Weekend 2017

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) youth spent the weekend learning more about Christ and were invited to ask difficult questions related to forgiveness and their own faith journey during Spiritual Development Weekend. Kimberly Clark, director of spiritual development, and her team led the activities that focus on spiritual growth.

The weekend started with a Friday evening concert where Christian artists recruited by Pastors Ahmad Washington and Colin Campbell came to the Waco campus to perform. This year, MCH welcomed Bus Seven, Capital G, Jeremy Beggs and MxC for the concert. On Saturday, the day began with a worship service with guest speaker Apostle T followed by a senior lunch. Sunday morning concluded the weekend with a closing worship service in the chapel.

Clark said they want to show the youth different artists and speakers who use their talents to glorify God.

“The Bible contains stories of God’s interactions with His people throughout history but those interactions aren’t just contained to a book,” she said. “God continues to interact and work in and through His people now, and we want our students to be exposed to others outside of the agency who are willing to share how God has moved and breathed into their lives.

“We like to expose our residential students to faithful people in Waco and surrounding areas,” she said. “It allows them to connect with the greater Christian community, gives them fresh faces and voices to receive from, and hopefully encourages them to continue to find places to worship once they leave our care."

The theme of the weekend was “forgiveness,” and the story of David was central to the focus of the entire weekend and as youth looked at Scripture to see examples of God’s mercy, grace and forgiveness.

Clark said this theme brought up many questions from the youth such as: How do you forgive someone that has hurt you so deeply? How do you regain trust after forgiveness is given? Why did God choose to forgive me? Can you forgive when you can’t forget?

“This weekend was a great example of the opportunity this ministry gives us to share the good news with our young people,” said Trey Oakley, vice president for development. “We do so in a safe environment where we don’t shy away from tough questions.

“Since our ministers’ focus is on helping build authentic relationships with God and in our community, we don’t have to conjur up easy or quick fix answers,” Oakley continued. “Sometimes we can say ‘I don’t know but let’s trust God to heal, comfort and seek answers together.’ That’s an amazing thing we get to do for all those we serve throughout Texas and New Mexico.”

MCH has hosted spiritually-focused weekends for almost 20 years, formerly called ReCreation Weekend and RARE event. These weekends continue to be a time for MCH youth to dialog about and grow in their faith.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Houston case manager speaks on serving grandparents during local conference

Nicole Washington, case manager at MCH Family Outreach in Houston, shared her experience in working with grandparents at a recent convention in Stafford, Texas. The Children’s Case Management Coalition (CCMC) hosted its 8th annual conference on February 24 at the Stafford Centre.

Washington was invited to speak at the conference after meeting several coalition members during an interagency meeting. The CCMC is “a collaborative group of case management providers in Houston and surrounding counties, who are invested in the special needs and issues of children and their families.” Every year the coalition hosts a conference for the community where social workers, nurses, nutritionists, parents and other professionals learn more about issues and services available for families and children.

Washington presented to the group to provide insight on what grandparents feel, think and struggle with when they are called to care for their grandchildren.

“Over the past seven years I have worked with grandparents in the Grandparents As Parents Program (GAPP) and one thing remains consistent – they give all they have while caring for their grandchildren,” Washington said. “They know it comes with a price, themselves, and they have no problem giving their all. However, the entire family suffers when the price depletes the one who holds it all together. I constantly remind my clients, ‘if you don’t take care of yourself then you are not taking care of the kids. You are your best advocate, so care and advocate for yourself.’”

Around 150 people attended the event to hear about topics related to the conference theme “Trauma-Informed Care: Recognizing and Responding to the Effects of Trauma in the Family.” Washington said the experience of presenting to her peers was enlightening, and she enjoyed speaking up for grandparents. 

“I love my GAPP grandparents,” Washington said. “They truly inspire me. I am so honored to work with them.”

Friday, March 3, 2017

MCH students surprised during field trip to McLane Stadium

MCH students surprised during field trip to McLane Stadium
Some special visitors joined a group of Methodist Children’s Home charter school students during a tour of McLane Stadium, home to the Baylor Bears football team. On March 1, five Baylor players surprised the middle schoolers and helped to give them a field trip they will not soon forget.

The group of students were from Mr. Zachary Byrd’s Core class. Byrd, the middle school social studies teacher at the charter school, said one of his objectives in his class is to teach the children leadership and positive peer interaction.

“A lot of my kids in the class are big sports fans,” Byrd said. “I wanted them to have the opportunity to interact with some of their heroes and see the stadium. I emphasize to the kids that there are a lot of jobs involved with sports and you don’t have to be a great athlete to have a career in sports or athletics. I think them seeing the stadium showed them some of the career opportunities involving athletics.”

Byrd coordinated with Baylor athletics to surprise the students. At the beginning of the tour five players, Wyatt Schrepfer (running back), Josh Malin (tight end), Will Jones (defensive tackle), Clint Kelly (long snapper), and Chris Lutzel (long snapper) along with Associate Director of Football Operations Ryan Kelly filed into the stadium.

During the tour, the group was taken through the press box, president’s suite, recruit lounge, post-game interview room, locker room and football field. The players spent their time talking with the students, signed autographs, and even tossed around the football and kicked field goals with the students on the field. 

“Seeing the kids interact with the players absolutely made my day,” Byrd said. “Their positive interaction with them was amazing. The kids’ smiles and comments afterward were awesome."