Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MCH Family Outreach Christmas 2014

MCH Family Outreach offices celebrated the Christmas season with families they serve during special parties organized by their office. Staff enjoyed surprising the children with visits from Santa, gifts under the tree as well as games and crafts. Below is how a few of our offices celebrated:

“The Corpus Christi Outreach office hosted their Christmas party for foster families on Dec. 4 at a local restaurant. Foster families and staff were able to enjoy fellowship and celebrate over a nice meal. The Corpus Christi office joined forces with Area Agency on Aging on Dec. 9 to celebrate Christmas with grandparents raising grandchildren. Some of the attendees were former and current GAPP parents of MCH. The celebration took place during the regularly scheduled support group time at a local senior citizen center. Grandparents sang Christmas carols to senior citizens at the center as well as participated in a game of ‘white elephant.’  Grandparents enjoy this support group as they can speak with others who may be struggling with the same issues and learn from each other how to obtain some support.” – Marisol Gomez, Corpus Christi Outreach director

“The Houston Outreach office had our annual Christmas Party again this year at Deer Park United Methodist Church. The church members provided gifts for foster children as well as biological children of the foster parents. Deer Park UMC also provided gifts for children in the other MCH programs (GAPP and Family Solutions). The church provided food and drinks for the party as well as Santa Claus. MCH staff and foster parents enjoyed entertainment by several MCH children. We also enjoyed Christmas music and great fellowship with each other.” - Veronica Whalon-Peters, Houston Outreach director

“The outreach office in Lufkin hosted their Foster Home Christmas Party on Dec. 13. Foster parents and staffed enjoyed lunch together, and Mrs. Amanda Jeffcoat, foster parent, said she ‘enjoyed being together with everyone and it felt like a family gathering.’ The children danced to Christmas music and played hide-and-seek while the foster parents finished desserts and enjoyed fellowship with each other. After presents, the children, foster parents, and staff attended The Nutcracker- Mejia Ballet International hosted by the Angelina Arts Alliance. All of the children were in awe of the amazing performance, and it was a delightful experience for everyone.”  – Amanda Grimmett, Lufkin Outreach director

San Antonio:
“The San Antonio Outreach office celebrated their annual Foster Family Christmas Party on Dec. 6 at University United Methodist Church. The families enjoyed refreshments from Jason’s Deli and fellowship with each other. The children relished in activities such as face painting, cookie decorating, a coloring station, and Pin the Nose on Olaf game. There were opportunities for silly pictures with the centerpiece props and candy cane crafts. Santa came and joined the festivities and gave his gifts to the children. Overall, we had a good turnout of friends old and new. We feel so blessed to have such wonderful families share in the mission and vision of MCH.” – Jessica Butters, San Antonio Outreach director. 

“On Saturday, Dec. 13, the Missions Team of Marvin UMC hosted the annual Christmas Party for the foster children of the Tyler outreach office.  More than 150 people including foster children, foster families, MCH staff, and volunteers attended the event. There were many activities and crafts available for the children to enjoy; from bounce houses and face painting to making thumbprint snowflake ornaments, there was never a dull moment. The children also got to sit on Santa’s knee and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. The highlight of the party was when each child opened up their gifts that was given to them by the members and volunteers of the Missions Team. Not only did the Missions Team bless the foster children this year, they also made a donation to the children in our Family Solutions program. Words cannot express how truly grateful and moved the Tyler Outreach staff is by the kindness and generosity that the Missions Team at Marvin UMC shows toward the children that we serve.”   – LaTasha Hickman, Tyler Outreach director

“On Saturday, Dec. 16 we hosted all of our families who are impacted by outreach programs in Waco. Foster parents, grandparents, parents, staff, volunteers and children gathered around the tree. This year we were blessed by Baylor Electronic Marketing department who helped create a wonderful celebration. As a team they planned a variety of crafts, prepared delicious snack foods, had story book time and topped off the day with a visit from Santa! All of our families were incredibly blessed by the thoughtfulness in the gifts as well as the time to fellowship. Children and parents alike laughed, created fun crafts and decorated cookies. Our Christmas party was a beautiful celebration of community, coming together to anticipate the coming of our Savior. The Waco Outreach sends our warmest gratitude to Baylor Electronic Marketing Department and all of our families who helped make this day truly special! It is our honor and privilege to walk alongside and celebrate life with you all!” – Brooke Davilla, Waco Outreach director

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Spanish class visits Hewitt Elementary

Methodist Children’s Home School (MCHS) students visited classrooms of Hewitt Elementary to share Christmas stories from Spanish books. The students were from Ms. Rojas’ Spanish 1 and 2 classes.

On Dec. 16 and 17, the MCHS students read to children in pre-K through second grade from the classrooms of Ms. Faith Foster (pre-K), Ms. Jessica Lopez (Kindergarten), Mr. Frederick Herrera (first grade) and Ms. Irene Martinez (second grade). Ms. Foster’s class created an alphabet book in English that they also shared with their visitors. MCHS student Beyonce accompanied her book, La Pinata, by singing “Feliz Navidad” to the class. 

As part of the project, MCHS provided the four classes with a set of English books from Scholastic for their classroom libraries.

“The purpose of this partnership was for our students to practice reading in Spanish through Christmas themed books,” Ms. Rojas said. “The partnership was beneficial for both groups because the Pre-K students were also able to practice speaking English through their alphabet books.”

The schools plan to carry on the partnership through next semester. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Christmas Carol

MCH theater students gave a special Christmas treat this year with a production of “A Christmas Carol.” The famous Christmas story by Charles Dickens was performed on Dec. 11 at the Harrell Memorial Chapel on the Waco campus.
The theater students are led by instructor Kira Rockwell, a Baylor BFA graduate in theater performance. The class spent two days in October doing auditions for the play. On the first day, Rockwell met with students interested in the technical aspects of theater such as light, sound, costume, makeup, and set design. The following day, auditions for acting roles were held where students performed scenes from the play in groups of two or three. Below is the final cast and production crew:

Narrator and Belle – Beth
Scrooge – Ben
Mr. Cratchit – Josh
Fred and Young Ebenezer – Trey
Mr. Jeeves, Peter Cratchit, and Broker 2 – Alfred
Tiny Tim, Ignorance and Boy – Chris
Marley’s Ghost, Fan, and Mrs. Dibler – Kimberly Bobbitt (Recreation Coordinator) filled in for Mae who was out sick
Spirit of Christmas Past, Janet, and Mrs. Oliver – Jade
Spirit of Christmas Present – Apryl
Mrs. Cratchit, Want, and Broker 1 – Grace
Martha Cratchit – Jessica
Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come – Aaron
Light and Sound Designer – Natasha
Costume and Make-up Designer – Jade
Set Designer and Lead Stagehand – Aaron

“The students did incredible,” Rockwell said. “Every student on that stage challenged themselves and grew exponentially since day one of class. They had fun, they were creative, they were brave, and they were confident enough in themselves to perform in front of their peers and finish the show. Most importantly what I am most pleased with is the fact that they completed the production feeling so proud and accomplished.”

In Rockwell’s after-school theater class, she said the students began the semester by focusing on cultivating a “team spirit” within the group and established warmups that they do in every class. Throughout the semester, they learned the basics of theater and the actor’s process as well as attended a production at Baylor, “Into the Woods.” Rockwell said the students also read plays with different styles of acting such as Greek, Shakespearean, Improv and contemporary drama.

“My desire for these students is that in this class they would not only learn about theatre and play a few acting games, but they would leave as confident, educated young theatre artists who are knowledgeable of the styles, techniques and the disciplines it takes to do theatre outside of Methodist Children's Home,” Rockwell said. “Of course we have our fun and play those acting games, but I truly feel this group allows students to discover something they've never tried or never thought they could do and realize they actually can and that they're pretty great at it, too.” 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Core Value Award for Responsibility - Taneequa Newton

Methodist Children’s Home recognizes staff annually who exemplify our core awards. Staff members are nominated by their peers and recognized at an all-staff meeting.

The Core Values of MCH are:
Christian Principles

Taneequa Newton, director of transition services, received the 2014 Core Award for Responsibility. The recipient of the Core Award for Responsibility is defined as someone who is accountable for self and others.

Newton has worked at MCH fort 16 years, first as a youth care counselor (YCC) and then a YCC supervisor while attending college for social work. She was the unit manager of the Williams home unit before becoming director of transition services.

According to Newton’s nomination, “She has always been kind and caring and has excellent Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) skills. Over the years, she has always been professional and continues to strive to find ways to best meet the needs of the youth in her care. She takes great pride in her work and in working with families to improve their relationships with their children. Taneequa is an active member of the Spirit Committee and can often be seen at sporting events cheering on her youth. In August, Taneequa was promoted to director of Transition Services. In her new role, she has quickly become attuned to the needs of our young adults and is intentional about helping them to succeed. Taneequa is respected for her sense of urgency, responsibility and dedication to MCH.”

“I truly thank MCH for honoring me with the Core Value Award for Responsibility,” said Newton. “Working in many different capacities has given me the opportunity to serve our youth and be a voice for them in their time of need and t that is a responsibility that I take very seriously. It is a blessing to be able to work for an agency that provides a nurturing environment for our youth and gives them hope for the future.”

Jeff Creel, associate administrator and Newton’s supervisor, had this to share: “I enjoy working with Taneequa and she had exhibited tremendous growth over her time at MCH. It is obvious that she genuinely cares about all of the young adults we serve through MCH. Taneequa is very nurturing and also empowers the young adults to work toward their full potential. She understands TBRI and the importance of meeting the young adults where they are ‘walking with them’ as they go through transitions in life. We are blessed to have her at MCH.”

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ranch Showmanship 2014

A large crowd of MCH staff and youth gathered at the Boys Ranch pavilion on Tuesday, Dec. 9 for the first-ever Ranch Showmanship event. Students from the FFA program showed their animals and were judged on their presentation as well as the appearance of the animal. 

The event was an opportunity for the 35 ag students to gain experience outside of local livestock shows in presenting their animals before a judge. MCH welcomed John Kuretsch as its guest judge.

“I wanted the kids to get an opportunity to show again and for the rest of the students not in ag to see what it is about,” said Steve Kruse, ag teacher.

Kruse leads the students in class as they learn to properly care for their animals, prepare them for showing and practice showmanship. The ag program teaches youth responsibility while also helping them to build self-confidence.

Steers, lambs, goats and swine in several categories were showed by the youth. The winners were:

Steers – Star
Lamb – Iyahnna
Goat – Tameka
Swine – Prince

Congratulations to all our student participants!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tutoring with Baylor students

Thanks to the benevolence of some Baylor University students, several MCH youth are getting a better understanding in their most challenging subjects. During the fall semester, 12 students from Baylor’s Medical Service Organization volunteered to tutor students in the Methodist Children’s Home School.

The tutors meet with students in seventh to tenth grade for an hour and a half once a week. The students are looking for help in the subjects of reading and math. Not only has this partnership been successful academically, but also provided the students with a person to look up to.

“The tutors give our students some positive role models that are not much older than them,” said Michelle Arocha, assistant principal at Methodist Children’s Home School. “They can see success in someone just 3-5 years older.”

Arocha said several MCH students had the option of receiving tutoring during the day but chose to receive tutoring after school with the Baylor students instead. She said they felt like they learned more in the smaller student ratio and enjoyed learning from a young person.

Baylor student Bunnarack Kuch, from Quinlan, Texas, learned about MCH when he volunteered over the summer. He was interested in returning and helped initiate the service project for Medical Service Organization students to volunteer as tutors throughout the fall. 

“I really enjoyed tutoring at MCH,” said Kuch, a premed junior at Baylor majoring in biochemistry. “Everything was well organized and the staff really made sure we had everything we needed. The students were wonderful as well!”

The partnership between Baylor tutors and MCHS students will continue next semester.

“I am excited about continuing to work with the Baylor volunteers and feel that the students really benefit from the project,” Arocha said.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Core Value Award for Service - Tyrone Robinson

Methodist Children’s Home annually recognizes staff who exemplifies one of our core values.  Staff members are nominated by their peers and are recognized at an all-staff meeting during which the awards are given.

The Core Values for MCH are:
Christian Principles

Tyrone Robinson, youth care counselor at the Boys Ranch, received the Core Award for Service. The recipient for the Core Award for Service is defined as someone who shows compassion through generosity and care.

According to Robinson’s nomination, “Tyrone brings a keen eye to his surroundings and the people in it, an ability to build relationships with staff and youth, and the drive to make a difference. Tyrone is passionate about working with youth and helping them to become successful and make good choices. Throughout his daily interactions, Tyrone role models hard work, dependability, strong morals, positive choices, logic, and patience for our youth. Tyrone is always there when you need him, whether it is for a transportation run, step trip, overnight coverage, or to help with a difficult situation. This willingness to be flexible to meet the needs of our youth makes a huge difference daily to both staff and youth. Tyrone is proactive in his approach to work with our youth and strives to de-escalate people and situations well before they become problematic. The boys and staff at the Ranch have great respect for Tyrone. He has high expectations for our youth and holds the boys accountable for their actions while also building playful and engaging relationships through sports, dominoes, and other activities.

Robinson has worked for MCH for four years. “When I am able to help youth accomplish their goals, I feel like I am truly giving something back to society,” he said. “This is why I love my job.”

Ian Bracken, recreation supervisor, and Robinson’s supervisor, had this to share: “Tyrone is great to work with. I appreciate his passion and drive to make a difference in youth’s lives, I could not ask for a better staff member.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ranch Family Day 2014

Boys Ranch welcomed families of youth on Nov. 25 to kick off a Thanksgiving week of fellowship. For this year’s Family Day, visitors gathered in the dining hall for the come-and-go event.

Families were treated to a dinner and snacks prepared by the dining hall staff. Ranch child care staff also provided families with goody bags filled with items promoting Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) techniques such as stress balls, pencil toppers, water, snacks and gum. TBRI is a method of care developed by Texas Christian University’s Institute of Child Development focused on helping children who have experienced relationship-based trauma to heal. Also included in the bags was a list of MCH’s 10 life skills that are taught to MCH youth during their stay. 

These life skills are:
1. Use good words to communicate
2. Be gentle and kind
3. Show respect
4. Listen and learn
5. Understand who is in charge
6. Accept decisions of authority
7. Make good choices
8. Focus and finish your work
9. Negotiate and compromise
10. Build trusting relationships

Ranch youth Charles, Chris and Jaden worked with homeparent Glinda Thorp to prepare a puppet show for the crowd to demonstrate several of these life skills and an example of a “redo.”  A “redo” is a conflict resolution technique that allows individuals to start over after having a disagreement.

“The kids worked hard on their show,” said Laura Bonner, Boys Ranch administrator. “They did a great job!”