Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Foster Family Retreat 2014

Foster families served through MCH Family Outreach came together for a weekend of training, celebrations and fun during the Foster Family Retreat July 18-20 in Waco. Retreats are now hosted every three years by MCH Family Outreach.

Fifty-four families and 159 children attended this year’s retreat visiting from Abilene, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Houston, Lufkin, Lubbock, North Richland Hills, San Antonio, Tyler and Waco. On Friday, families had the opportunity to visit the Waco campus and spend the day at Hawaiian Falls Water Park.

On Saturday, families headed to Austin Avenue United Methodist Church. Children ages 0-8 were cared for by volunteers and staff and entertained by fun activities throughout the day. Waco Fire Department brought out a truck to show the children and let them try on their fire gear. The older children, ages 9 and up, were brought to the Waco campus to experience a “camp day” led by recreation staff. The children were led in a variety of games, art projects, and a movie.

While the children were busy with their day of activities, parents attended training on Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) led by Dr. Karyn Purvis from the Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University. TBRI is an intervention model for a wide range of childhood behavioral problems designed for children who have experienced relationship-based trauma. MCH has partnered with TCU to implement TBRI principles into its childcare practices.

“We hope that foster parents and staff were able to see the principles of TBRI come alive in Dr. Purvis’s presentation and that they take these home with them to assist in their relationships with foster children in their homes,” said Kelly Smith, western regional administrator for MCH Family Outreach. “Additionally, we hope the opportunities for fun, fellowship with other families, and additional training ministered to them and showed them that MCH staff are dedicated to their success as foster families.”

Foster parents and staff were also treated to a lunch and awards ceremony on Saturday to honor several foster families for their service to children in need. Families were invited to attend worship services at Austin Avenue UMC on Sunday.

Alicia Carter, Albuquerque Outreach director, also received the Katherine Anglin Outstanding Social Services Award during Saturday’s lunch. Recipients of this award are nominated and voted for by Family Outreach staff. This award is in memory of Katherine Anglin, an MCH social worker who died suddenly in 2001 who showed much devotion to MCH, its programs and the families she served. Alicia was honored for her leadership and dedication she has shown to her staff and families in Albuquerque. 

Below is a list of this year’s foster care award recipients:

Core Awards:
Christian Principles - Tommy and Debbi Atkinson (Houston), Randy and Barbara Gardell (Waco)
Relationships - Chris and Katie Sherrod (Tyler), Burl and Cherry Hall (Dallas)Responsibility - John and Angela Vilo (Corpus Christi)Growth - Scott and Stephenie Smith (Lubbock), Joe and Janna Ledbetter (Abilene)Service - Amanda and Adam Jeffcoat (Lufkin), George and Angie Bunch (San Antonio)Hope - Miguel and Raquel Herrera (El Paso)

Tenure Awards:
3 Years – Donald and Cindy Beard, Burl and Cherry Hall, Michael and Marisa Luthanen, Howard and Lisa Redwine, George and Angie Bunch, Randy and Barbara Gardell, Mark and Elaine Hageman, Chad and Carrie Larsh, Chris and Katie Sherrod, Linda Vaughn, Joey and Amy Gallardo
5 Years – Scott and Stephenie Smith, Don and Nancy English, Pamela Rogers, Lee and Cynthia Gilmer, Dawn Caesar
10 Years – Michale and Kym Dowers, Jonathan and Shelly Phillips, Dan and Tammy Remmers
15 Years – Cassandra Wells, Bill and Eileen Armstrong, Bobbie and Molly Baughn, Thomas and Debbi Atkinson
20 Years – Sherry Turnbow, Steve and Michelle Gibbs
25 Years - Stan and Jenetta Davis

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Equine program – Learning through horses

Equine coordinator Barbara White passes on her vast knowledge, experience and love of horses to our youth through Methodist Children’s Home equestrian program. Teaching to all skill levels, White leads summer horsemanship classes incorporating obstacle courses and therapeutic horseback riding in her training.

White has taught lessons on horse anatomy, taken youth to a tack shop as well as lessons on how to properly care for horses. In each class, she leads youth through horsemanship exercises based on the youth’s experience with horses.

White explained that horses are a “flight” animal; without a predatory sense, horses are instinctively intuitive to their surroundings. Horses are extremely sensitive to emotions, so whatever we may be feeling at that time is mirrored by the horse, making them ideal therapeutic animals for youth coming from hard places. White designed an obstacle course for horses with low confidence, and by putting the youth in charge of helping the horse through the course, they ultimately help them to gain more confidence in their abilities.

“Whatever comes out in the horse will come out in us,” she said. “This triggers something in a kid when they work on how to get the horse through it. Once they learn they can get a 1,000-pound animal to respond for them, it builds their confidence as well.”

White was raised with horses, riding by herself since the age of 3. She began training at 9 years old and has competed in rodeos and races throughout her career. She has taught therapeutic riding since 1994 and joined the MCH staff in 2013.

“I enjoy sharing the knowledge and passing it on to these kids by working with them one-on-one,” she said. “That moment when you see everything just clicks for them, that is why I do this job.”

Friday, July 11, 2014

Core Value Award for Responsibility - Randy and Vicki Thomas

Randy and Vicki Thomas, home parents at the Boys Ranch, received the Core Award for Responsibility. The Thomases always go above and beyond the call of duty. They exemplify the word “responsibility.” In the last year, the Thomases worked 10 straight weeks until another set of home parents could be hired and helped train new home parents. They are dependable, flexible and always eager to help out. They have positive, healthy relationships with each boy in their unit, as well as other boys at the Ranch. The Thomases recognize each boy’s strength and respect them as individuals. They have adapted well to Trust-Based Relational Intervention and implement it on a daily basis. They make taking care of the boys seem effortless and have a true compassion for this ministry. The boys love and respect the Thomases and we are honored to have them at MCH.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

MCH Receives Charity Navigator’s Highest Rating

Methodist Children’s Home on July 1, 2014, received a four-star rating by Charity Navigator – the highest ranking available from the nation’s largest charity evaluator, according to Tim Brown, president and CEO of MCH.

“Methodist Children’s Home has been offering hope to children, youth and families across Texas and New Mexico since 1890,” Brown said. “Any success is based upon a steadfast commitment to service to which we are called as well as accountability to those we serve and to those who make it possible through their generosity.

“We are grateful to receive this outstanding rating from Charity Navigator because we take seriously the relationship we have 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.”

According to Charity Navigator, approximately 25 percent of the charities evaluated receive a four-star rating, indicating MCH outperforms most other charities in the United States. The rating is based upon governance, sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency, according to Charity Navigator’s leadership.

“As the nonprofit sector continues to grow at an unprecedented pace, savvy donors are demanding more accountability, transparency and quantifiable results from the charities they choose to support with their hard-earned dollars,” said Ken Berger, president and CEO of Charity Navigator. “In this competitive philanthropic marketplace, Charity Navigator highlights the fine work of efficient, ethical and open charities. Our goal in all of this is to provide donors with essential information needed to give them greater confidence in the charitable choices they make.”