Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Daniels Home welcomes visitors

Dr. Jack Kyle Daniels tells stories about his time at MCH
to the girls at the new Daniels Home.
The construction is complete, the furniture is in place, and the students and staff are now settled into their new home. On Aug. 15, the residents and staff of the Dr. Jack Kyle and Evelyn Daniels Home held an open house to introduce their new house to other MCH staff and students. Visitors toured the rooms and enjoyed refreshments as they experienced the new layout design.

“The open house at the new Daniels Home was an amazing experience,” said Charlsie Whitney, Waco campus administrator. “I, personally, was so moved by the positive responses of the staff and youth who visited during the occasion. I am also very proud of the ownership that the residents have taken of their new home. I think it has exceeded all of our expectations, and we are very grateful for every person who made it possible.”
The Daniels Home is the first component of a broader capital campaign in which state-of-the-art homes will be built to better meet the needs of the youth served by MCH. The new home incorporates design elements to encourage more interaction while also providing added feelings of safety for residents as well as apartments for home parents. Bethany Parrott, unit manager for the Daniels Home, said her staff and residents are enjoying the new design.

“We love living in the new Daniels Home!” said Parrott. “It’s given the girls and the staff an environment that feels more like home. The girls have enjoyed decorating their rooms and having their own space. The open concept has allowed for us to spend more time together playing cards at the dinner table or having conversations around the kitchen bar. We are very happy to live in this new home.”

On Wednesday, Aug. 17, the home’s namesake, Dr. Jack Kyle and Evelyn Daniels, visited the Waco campus bringing along their daughter Lyn, her husband Mike and son Cole. After touring the Visitors Center at the Perkins Heritage Home, the family went to see the Daniels Home. It was the first time their daughter had seen the home and the first time Dr. and Mrs. Daniels had seen the home fully furnished.

“We were delighted with the furnishings and the bright colors which make a very comfortable home,” Dr. Daniels said. “We had a good time visiting with the residents and the home parents and learning a bit about the girls’ experiences at MCH.

“We are still overwhelmed with the honor of having the building named for us and welcomed a glimpse of the benefits that will come to the present and future residents of the Daniels Home,” he added. “We pray daily for MCH and have hearts full of gratitude for our lifetime relationship with so great a ministry.”

Staff welcomed visitors during the Open House for the Daniels Home.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Back to School at MCHS

Methodist Children’s Home School (MCHS), a charter school operated in partnership with the University of Texas-University Charter School, began its 13th year on the Waco campus on August 18. Staff will welcome sixth through 12th graders from the Waco campus, Boys Ranch and from the community as part of the Day School program.

This year, classes will shift from block scheduling to seven class periods. Also, physical education will now be offered during the school day instead of during after school programming. Teachers all received new desks and furniture over the summer. Six new staff members will join the campus with several other staff receiving promotions. Cristy Cunningham, former principal, will now oversee two UT-UCS campuses, MCHS and Cedar Crest (Belton, Tex.) and become the executive principal. Michelle Arocha will move from assistant principal to associate principal while Samantha Dove will transition from instructional coach to school liaison. Michelle Whitehead joins the MCHS staff as assistant principal.

All school staff attended a two-day training on Trust-Based Relational Intervention, a model of care for children who have experienced some type of trauma developed by the Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University. They also listened to a presentation by Christian Moore, author of the book Resilience Breakthrough.

“Resilience is the key focus this year,” Cunningham said. “Resilience has been defined as the ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.”

MCH wishes our students much success during this coming school year!

Monday, August 8, 2016

MCH Family Outreach in Waco partners with Advocacy Center

Just in time for heading back to school, children of MCH Family Outreach families learned about bullying and healthy boundaries thanks to a partnership with The Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children in Waco. On July 22 and 28, representatives of the Advocacy Center, Sarah Hopping and Aleigh Ascherl, led an educational and interactive presentation at the Waco office.

“As an outreach office collaborations are important to us and we work diligently to create strategic partnerships that benefit the families we serve,” said Brooke Davilla, director of MCH Family Outreach in Waco. “We previously had the Advocacy Center come to one of our Grandparents As Parents Program support groups to provide psychoeducation to our grandparents. In return, the Advocacy Center asked if we would be interested in a group specifically geared towards our children.”

Davilla said the Advocacy Center hosted groups last year to connect children and their caregivers and received positive feedback so they were excited about having them back this summer. She explained that during the summer months, they like to break from the traditional support group model to offer interactive groups for parents and children. Along with the presentations, they have also met at splash pads at the park as well as hosted a family day at Hawaiian Falls water park.

“We were interested in offering these groups to our families for several reasons,” she said. “One reason is that the summer months can be stressful for both kids and caregivers. We wanted to give families something fun to look forward to and something for them to do together. Additionally, families are often concerned about their children keeping appropriate boundaries as well as bullying. We felt like an interactive group could be a good way to start talking about these topics in a safe and playful way.”

Sara Beth Stoltzfus, case manager for MCH Family Outreach in Waco, said many of her families had expressed a lot of interest in the topics of boundaries and bullying. During the presentations, the children participated in activities using props such as balloons, hula hoops and colors to learn about safe touch, empathy, using your voice, encouraging diversity and showing respect and teamwork.

“We heard so many of the children sharing reflective comments about bullying or being bullied and how they should treat their friends and peers,” Stoltzfus said. “Our presenters did a great job at creating an environment for all children to participate. Even our shy ones were able to be silly and speak up confidently!”

Sarah Hopping from the Advocacy Center

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

U.M. ARMY 2016

Several youth from Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) spent a week serving others in Bryan, Texas. Each summer, MCH partners with Kingwood UMC and United Methodist Action Reach-Out Mission by Youth (UMArmy) for hands-on mission projects.

UMArmy holds work camps with youth and adult volunteers. Work camps provide much-needed home repair assistance for people in need.  FUMC Bryan hosted the youth for the camp, which was themed “True Identity.”

“The focus was helping all of us to take a look at how our identity in Jesus impacts the actions in our lives, and in the lives that we touch,” said Ron Britton, MCH discipleship minister. “I think our youth saw what a difference they can make in the lives of others and in the world.”

MCH youth pushed through long hot days at three different locations to build a wheelchair ramp, an awning and a deck for their clients.

“The highlight this year was Client Night, where we eat and worship with the clients that we have been with all week,” said Britton. “One client was so moved by the service and the youth’s willingness to help others that he broke out and sang a hymn a capella. He said he was encouraged to see youth who loved Christ and were living out their faith.”

Noah, who lives at the Boys Ranch had this to share: “I enjoyed the prayer walks and having an opportunity to help others in need. I felt I grew spiritually because there was no judgment from others on how you worshipped and everyone accepted others as they were.”

Friday, July 29, 2016

Expressions of Faith

Summer programs are helping our students discover new ways to express their spirituality. Ahmad Washington, spiritual development minister, leads two groups who are using their artistic talents in rap/spoken word and praise dance to glorify God.

Washington said students started showing an interest in developing their talents and thought it would be a good way to get more students involved in weekly worship services. He decided to post a sign-up sheet to get a list of those interested. He spoke with each student to discuss their motivations and level of commitment before beginning the weekly sessions.

Currently, five students are included in each group. The sessions start out with a prayer, and Washington said the group visits a particular scripture to get them focused and remind them of their reasons for their work. The scripture reads:

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” – 1 Timothy 4: 12-16

During the spoken word/rap session, Washington will have beats prepared for the group and they begin working together to create a song. Each student contributes lyrics to the song, whether through freestyling or through writing their lyrics during the session. Washington helps the students with stage presence, their delivery and articulation as well as how to hold a microphone and how to recover if you mess up.

For praise dance, Washington said one of the girls has stepped up to become a leader of the group by developing choreography and teaching the dance to the others. Washington oversees the group, leads practices and offers encouragement.

“The goal is for the youth to become a regular participant in the worship services,” Washington said. “I want to eventually get to a point where we can also do things in the community and minister to other youth groups and participate in concerts in the city.”

Washington said the experience has given the performers a level of accountability while also providing a good example to the other students in the worship services.

“It has had a two-fold affect,” he explained. “It is a blessing for the kids to see their peers living in the same type of situation going through similar things to express their faith. They enjoy it and are able to relate to them. And for the kids serving in worship service, they learn that it is more than just holding a mic. They have to look at the standards in which they live.” 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

“A Day to Remember”

MCH Boys Ranch youth beat the heat and spent the day on the water during “A Day to Remember” ski day hosted by In His Wakes ministry. Twenty boys traveled to Fort Worth’s Marine Creek Park on July 11 to experience the joy of water sports while also learning more about Christ.

In His Wakes, a ministry that travels across the nation, offers youth who may not otherwise have the opportunity for an enjoyable day on a boat at the lake. They have made a stop in Fort Worth for several years to host youth from the Boys Ranch. As described on their website, In His Wakes “uses water sports as a platform to share about Christ’s love in a powerful interactive way.”

“This program also seeks to bring hope and healing to a hurting world which runs hand-in-hand with the Methodist Children’s Home mission ‘to offer hope to children, youth and families in a nurturing, Christian community,” said Anthony Mead, outdoor education director at the Boys Ranch.

This year, the boys were able to have an exciting day of tubing, boarding, and water skiing. It was the first time to be on a boat for many of the boys. During the day, the volunteers for the ministry were able to help several boys overcome their fear of water or fear of falling during their attempts to try something new. 

“This was an amazing time of building trusting relationships through the various interactive water sports and building community,” Mead said. “We also were able to talk about Christ and learn to grow in our faith. To me this is another way to nurture this hope we have in Christ by allowing our youth to participate in these type of ministries for years to come.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Recognized for Excellence

The Coalition of Residential Excellence (CORE) recently selected three individuals affiliated with MCH as recipients of annual awards. The purpose of the nonprofit association is “to establish excellence for residential care; assist programs in achieving excellence; influence policymakers to recognize the need for residential programs; and promote public support for residential excellence, research, and practice.”

Dr. Ann Weiss, a member of the MCH Board of Directors, was selected as Board Member of the Year and Julie Diem, MCH benefactor, was selected as Philanthropist of the Year. In addition, Ashley Burris, a former resident at MCH, was named Student of the Year. The three were recognized on April 26 at the annual CORE Residential Excellence conference held in Washington, D.C.

Ashley Burris –Student of the Year 
Ashley, a former resident of the Waco campus, graduated in May 2015 from Rapoport Academy. She came to MCH at the age of 13 after going through some family struggles with her mother. Ashley was recognized for her growth and leadership through MCH’s programs. Ashley’s accomplishments were described below in excerpts from her nomination:

Ashley exemplifies the Methodist Children’s Home core values through her strong connections with the MCH staff and students. She is always willing to meet and exceed expectations and focuses on her goals despite many obstacles she has encountered along the way. Ashley is focused on the future and utilizes all the opportunities available to her including but not limited to educational, volunteer services, and spiritual. Ashley is involved in many campus activities as an intern with the MCH Student Events Coordinator. Ashley completes volunteer services for her school and within the unit. She sets an example for her peers by the way she successfully maintained and worked the Steps to Success program and achieved the highest step possible in the MCH Program.

Ashley is a role model to her peers in that they turn to her for advice and guidance. The youth relate to Ashley’s initial struggle and anger when arriving at MCH. They view her motivation to refocus as a beacon of hope that they could do the same thing. Ashley is recognized by her peers for her positive attitude and cheerful smile. Ashley is admired for her ability to recognize the consequences of her actions and drive to be successful. She is able to do all of that with a smile on her face and positive words.

Julie Diem – Philanthropist of the Year
Julie Diem became a strong supporter of MCH after the tragic deaths of her daughter and grandsons. Diem found a way to honor her loved ones through MCH, a ministry that was close to the heart of her daughter. In 2015, Diem endowed a scholarship in her daughter’s name to honor her legacy. Her generosity and dedication is described in excerpts from her nomination below:
Julie's story is heart-wrenching and her resiliency has touched many. The power of her testimony brought new supporters to our organization and educated many on the wonderful opportunities available through our services, specifically our residential program.

Diem contacted MCH in 2015 and decided to start the “Elizabeth Dowdy Scholarship.” Diem wanted to create a scholarship that would help girls from our residential program who had dreams similar to those of her daughter. Diem started raising funds for the scholarship by selling special wreaths which she began making as a way to honor her daughter and grandsons.

The response of her effort was amazing. In less than eight months, proceeds from the wreath sales, and contributions from others impacting by the story, produced more than $25,000 for the scholarship! The Diems then decided to start a second scholarship fundraising effort to create a named fund for their grandsons.

It is inspiring to see someone turn a great loss into something that will bless others. Julie is a powerful example of how these scholarship gifts can impact our young people as well as how one person can bless so many others. Many more people are aware of MCH because of Julie’s advocacy and so many have found encouragement during tough times because of her influence.

Dr. Ann Weiss – Board Member of the Year
Dr. Ann Weiss has been an advocate for MCH for more than 30 years. In that time she has held numerous leadership roles as a board member, volunteer and benefactor. Dr. Weiss’s commitment and service was described in excerpts from her nomination:

Dr. Weiss offers her insights as an educator to help ensure MCH uses its resources for the highest and best use for the children in our care. Dr. Weiss has served on numerous boards and leadership councils. She is eager to use those connections to link likeminded organizations in order to produce the most good. Her advocacy for MCH has brought trauma-informed care and the importance of the residential service model to leadership through the United Methodist Church and our service areas.

Dr. Weiss has a voice and she lends it to our program. Her support of our emphasis on trauma-informed care has opened the eyes and ears of others to understand about the challenges facing the young people in our communities and this innovative approach to serving them. Her voice is strong in support of our program but also used in a way to help ensure MCH is aware of the complex issues that may be encountered as we seek to achieve our goals.

Many of the accomplishments achieved by MCH are a result of the generosity of our supporters, many of those who were brought to MCH and encouraged by the leadership of Dr. Weiss.
Dr. Weiss connects with individuals in an authentic way. Although highly educated, she can articulate the intricacies of our program in a way that can be understood by those who care about our children and mission. Dr. Weiss is a “natural nurturer” and shows a high level of dedication to sharing the MCH story but also mentoring young leaders. Her position on the Board was more than a title; it was a way to carry out her true passion which is providing for the wellbeing of children. She is respected by her peers and youth for her ability to be lead, encourage and inspire.
Congratulations to our Coalition of Residential Excellence award winners!