Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer program at Boys Ranch

Youth at the Boys Ranch work and play hard throughout the summer. With 500 acres of land and many livestock to care for, youth play an important role in caring for their home.

Several mornings each week, youth are separated into work crews to complete jobs around the Ranch. Pat Close, Ranch manager, prepares of list of tasks and works with Nicole Ehler, director of program services, and homeparents to assign duties. Chores include taking care of yard work, making facility repairs, clearing brush, mending fences and feeding, grooming and cleaning animals and their pens.

“This is their facility so they help out with all the daily maintenance at the Ranch,” Ehler said. “We couldn’t do what we do without their involvement. They make the Ranch better for themselves and for everyone around them.”

During afternoons, youth take part in group sessions, community service and classes. Organizations served through community service include Friends for Life, Salvation Army and Meals on Wheels. On Thursday afternoons, youth choose a talent to explore through horseback riding, fishing, 4H crafts and photography, music, mechanics, cooking and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Youth also enjoy special activities with their peers and staff on Mondays and during Friday Fun Days. Activities have included a scavenger hunt, lake day, water day, staff versus student games, and “Crazy Game” day. Youth also went to the Perot Museum, Six Flags, Urban Air Trampoline Park and Hawaiian Falls. Youth enjoyed their first Flotilla competition where each home unit built a flotation device to ride across Slator Pond. The competition was a team-building activity that was a hit with the youth.

“We’re here to build community and have fun. I want everyone to get closer, create new memories and walk away having grown as a person,” Ehler said.

To view our photo gallery of the summer at the Boys Ranch, click here.

*A special thanks to Nicole Ehler for her photo contributions for this blog and photo gallery.

Friday, July 19, 2013

COA awards MCH with certificate of recognition

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) received a Certificate of Recognition from the Council of Accreditation (COA) for the demonstration of exceptional quality improvement in the implementation of its Family Solutions program. Julie Fulmer, director of quality management at COA, gave the following statement.

The Council on Accreditation is pleased to recognize your organization for the excellence of its quality improvement initiative for the most recent maintenance of accreditation year. By demonstrating exceptional improvement initiatives in the management of quality/performance, your organization affirms its ongoing commitment to enhancing organizational effectiveness and excellence for consumers and other stakeholders. 

The Family Solutions program was an initiative identified by MCH outreach staff to strengthen the Partnership in Parenting (PIP) Program. Family Outreach staff members have participated in foundational training, implemented the program in six locations, and are in the process of implementing the program in all of our outreach locations throughout Texas and New Mexico by the end of this fiscal year.

 “A lot of time and hard work has gone into the program to help us continue to meet the needs of children and families,” Melissa Opheim, vice president for community services, said. “The main areas of change in the program are the use of a standardized family assessment tool to help guide our service planning and weekly face-to-face contact with clients in their homes or communities to facilitate the plan. Our outreach staff have reported that the work is more intensive, but we are seeing clients make life-changing progress during their time in the program. Our work with families focuses on living conditions, financial stability, caregiver/child interactions, developmental stimulation for children, caregiver to caregiver interactions, and family stability.”

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer art class recreates school mural

Youth are getting the chance to explore their creativity and produce a work of art for the campus to enjoy during this summer’s art enrichment class. Youth from two classes taught by Clarence Degrate, at-risk coordinator for the charter school, are working on a project to redesign the mural outside of the school.

“Because this wall has stood that way for so long, none of our youth here understood what it meant or identified with it,” Degrate said. “This was a chance for us to start fresh.”

The youth did research on the computer for ideas that they would like to include in the mural. They decided to include images that showcase the charter school such as athletics, drama, student council and cheerleading. Also, they are including reminders to youth promoting no bullying, self confidence, as well as the MCH 10 Life Skills and four basic rules.
Once the youth came up with the concepts, Degrate sketched outlines along the wall and the youth are painting the images during class.

“I think this project will give our kids a sense of entitlement,” Degrate said. “They were able to come up with the ideas and create something that will be long lasting. Plus this is also an opportunity for our kids from Waxahachie to build relationships and feel connected to the campus.”

Monday, July 15, 2013

‘Hope’ in Albuquerque

Last year, Hope’s life began falling apart after she gave birth to her son Elijah. She was unable to make ends meet with her part-time job at a fast food restaurant. She had lost custody of her two older daughters and now found herself homeless with no stable environment to care for her son.  Then in February 2013, Hope found the help she desperately needed through MCH Family Outreach in Albuquerque. MCH Family Outreach teamed up with Transitional Living Services (TLS) in Albuquerque to begin the process to help Hope rebuild her life.

MCH Family Outreach case manager Ginger Lawlor began working with Hope and her partner of six years in February to get them on a path to put their lives back together. Hope and Elijah were provided housing through TLS and moved into their home in June. Lawlor said the process has been challenging for Hope but that she has made a lot of progress in recent weeks.

“She appeared to be losing hope when housing was finally on the horizon so my focus with her became to keep contact with her and inspire her to keep her focus on the future,” Lawlor said. “Now that the family is housed, she delights in the tasks of nurturing her nest. She has a good rapport with her housing case manager and likes their new location which is so handy to access busses and walk to nearby services. There are neighbors close by and she has already started making friends.”

Now that she has a stable, safe home for Elijah, Hope is determined to put her life back together. Before her struggles, she had completed a significant amount of coursework toward an associate’s degree. She wants to help people and feels she can best serve others by becoming a medical assistant. In the past, she has felt as if she disappointed her father, a local police officer, and wants to show him how she is overcoming her past struggles.

“My dad is my hero and my goal is to show him that I’m ok and his grandkids are ok. I want to make my dad happy and get my life straightened out,” she said.

The family is receiving family therapy and working to reestablish contact and hopefully someday reunite with their daughters as well. The next step will be to enroll in Nurturing Parenting courses through MCH and continue to work toward their goals to provide a stable, nurturing home for their family.

“The family had many serious issues prior to coming to MCH Family Outreach, but now that they are finally in a stable living situation, they can focus on healing and rebuilding their lives,” Lawlor said. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Central Texas Conference Youth in Mission (CTCYM) trip 2013

Youth from the Waco and Boys Ranch campuses attended the Central Texas Conference Youth in Mission (CTCYM) trip June 16-22.  The mission team was hosted by Idabel United Methodist Church in Idabel, Okla.

CTCYM offers youth a way to serve others through the rebuilding of homes and small facilities weathered by age, poverty or natural disaster. This year, projects included general home repairs, installing an air conditioner for a family, cleaning yards of debris, mending a fence and building a wheelchair ramp for a 23-year-old quadriplegic man.

“I love how our youth step up and work hard despite the often difficult conditions,” said Ron Britton, spiritual development minister at MCH. “They have the opportunity to broaden their understanding of the world and develop compassion for others.”

This was the second mission trip for Terra, a Waco campus resident, who said she had a positive spiritual experience during the trip.

“My eyes were opened to how people really need help,” she said. “I could see God working through us. I believe we truly see God when we let Him in and let Him use us to help others.” 

Tristan, also a Waco campus resident, was part of the same group of youth participating in the project.

“I learned to have more patience,” he said.  “There was a lot of hard work involved but it was worth it after seeing how much the family truly appreciated our help.”