Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Clay Commons hosts Open House

Clay Commons, the latest addition to Methodist Children’s Home, opened its doors to staff to showcase the exciting new opportunity for young adults. The off-campus apartment complex is part of the Independent Living program which provides MCH graduates with help as they transition to adulthood.

“The open house was a huge success,” said Jeff Creel, associate administrator.  “We were happy to have staff from many different departments on campus to tour the apartments.  We are proud to share how our young adults are enjoying a higher level of independence.”

Residents moved in to Clay Commons apartments beginning in August 2015. Through the program, former MCH residents and foster children are able to pay a monthly fee based on their income to live in a furnished apartment as they work or attend school. It is designed to be a next step after the on-campus Independent Living program offering more independence and less supervision while still providing a supportive environment.

Clay Commons has the capacity for 16 residents who live in two-bedroom apartments with a roommate. There are two resident advisors on staff who manage the property and are there to assist residents with questions regarding every day issues. Residents also work with a case manager to develop a plan of service.

“Staff attending were excited and proud of the facilities and the opportunity for our young adults,” Creel said. “We hope they can share that excitement with our youth and encourage them to take advantage of all that MCH offers them to better prepare them for independence and give them hope for the future.”

Friday, December 18, 2015

Bike tradition continues at MCH

The Grapevine Bike tradition started in the late 1980s. The picture on the left shows
FUMC Grapevine members Stan Hinson and Ray Lusk delivering bikes in 1992.
In the late 1980s, First United Methodist Church of Grapevine began a legacy of giving to Methodist Children’s Home. Each year the church makes sure every child at MCH that wants one will get a bicycle for Christmas.

The tradition began when a few members of the church who were involved with MCH noticed there was a need for bicycles for the children. They decided to organize a donation and the tradition has continued and grown throughout the years.

The process starts back in October when the church contacts MCH to determine the number of bicycles needed. They then negotiate pricing with local stores to purchase the bikes. On the Friday evening before they plan to make the trip to Waco for delivery, church members gather to put the bicycles together and load them onto a truck for transporting.

This year, FUMC Grapevine provided 79 bikes and helmets children in the Dallas and Waco family outreach offices, as well as for residents at the Waco campus and Boys Ranch. Two bikes were also provided for the children of a former resident who is participating in the Transition Services program.

More than 20 church members from Grapevine traveled to the Waco campus on Saturday, Dec. 12 to deliver the bikes and tour the Perkins Heritage Home. They were welcomed by MCH staff and residents who helped them unload the bicycles.

“This is one of our longest standing traditions at MCH,” said Trey Oakley, vice president for development at MCH. “What makes it so special is the church not only does this every year, but they make it a church-wide event. It is a great example of how passionate people are about our ministry.”

Thursday, December 17, 2015

MCH Core Value Award for Growth - John Warren

Methodist Children’s Home recognizes staff annually who have exemplified our core values. Staff members are nominated by their peers and recognized at the All-Staff meeting.

Core Values for MCH are:
Christian Principles

John Warren, training director, received the 2015 Core Award for Growth at the all-staff meeting in October. The recipient of the Core Award for Growth is someone who provides opportunities for spiritual, emotional, physical, and intellectual development.
According to Warren’s nomination: “John has led the Training Department through a period of significant expansion. John has been working diligently to make sure the department is fully prepared to face the new challenges that arise through this process. John’s flexibility and dependability have proven to be valuable assets to the Training Department. He has hosted several new trainings this year, including sexual harassment, suicide prevention, and an impromptu snake awareness training this summer at the Boys Ranch. Through this dedication to educating our staff and making sure that our organization meets compliance standards, this agency overall has been making steady improvements in training compliance.”

“I am humbled and honored to have received the Core Award for Growth,” said Warren. “I really enjoy getting to see folks in trainings have that ‘ah-ha moment’ when a concept or the key to a skill really hits home for them. Hearing stories about how training helps people in their professional life and personal life reminds me of how important the Training Department’s work is. I have a fantastic group of people to work with and I love their passion for helping our agency do the best work possible. I am grateful to be honored this way from an agency that has facilitated my professional growth over the last 10 years.”

Bryan Mize, vice president of quality improvement and Warren’s supervisor had this to share, “I appreciate John’s leadership and enthusiasm as MCH moves forward with the agency-wide training program, an important goal in our strategic plan. John is committed to ensuring employee training needs are met, and he empowers the training staff to use their gifts, skills and knowledge to make significant contributions to our ministry. John is passionate about helping MCH fulfill its mission through his training and other areas of service.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Houston family honored for opening their hearts to foster children

It takes a special family to foster children. It is beautiful and it can also be heartbreaking. Methodist Children’s Home is blessed to have many special families who have opened their homes to children who need a safe, loving place to go as their family deals with difficult situations. Foster care is offered through MCH Family Outreach offices in Abilene, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Tyler.

On Nov. 14 in Houston, couples were honored for their dedication and service to foster children during a conference at Woodsedge Community Church in Spring, Texas. Matthew and Tonya Torkelson received an award from Orphan Care Solutions and the Texas Department of Family and Children Services for their outstanding service to children with Methodist Children’s Home.

The Torkelsons were licensed with MCH in September 2011 and received their first foster child in February 2012. Since then, they have fostered 10 children ranging in age from newborn to 14 months old. They have five children of their own: two grown sons ages 31 and 28, a 22-year old daughter in college and two younger girls, ages 9 and 11, they adopted from China.

Tonya said she had felt led to foster for years but her husband did not feel the same way. After attending a Christian music concert, Matt said he wanted to adopt children from China. They adopted two girls but Tonya still felt the calling to foster. She talked to her husband again, and he agreed to pray about it. A few months later they decided it was time to become foster parents and contacted MCH to start the process.

“It has been a pleasure working with the Torkelson family since they became licensed,” said Ramonia Ross, case manager for MCH Family Outreach in Houston. “They are so real and so genuine and the love they have for the children placed in their home is shown through the nurture and care they give to them. One of the things I admire about the Torkelsons is the respect they give to the birth parents, their nonjudgmental attitude, and their willingness to help children have a smooth transition back home, no matter how hard it is to let them go. And most importantly, I admire how Mr. and Mrs. Torkelson are so supportive of one another.” 

The Torkelsons’ children have supported their parents and Tonya said the younger girls love having the babies in their home, “as they are living dolls,” she joked. They are required to attend training annually which Tonya said she enjoys.

“I’m always into learning new things and even being retaught things already learned,” she said. “I love going to the trainings as we get to be with other foster families. It’s so nice to learn and speak with others in the same boat as you. The lessons are taught by the staff so we get all that time with them as well.”

She said Ross is there to support them with whatever they need, whether it is helping them deal with insurance issues, offering them advice or just providing a listening ear.  

“MCH likes to listen to you brag about the kids,” Tonya said. “They make sure we have everything we need to be the best foster parent for these babies. They answer our questions when needed. They are a shoulder to cry on when that is needed as well.”

Through foster care at MCH, family reunification is the goal when possible. Foster parents open their homes and work with the family as they work toward goals so the child can return to a safe, secure home. Tonya said the most challenging part of being a foster parent is when it is time to say goodbye.

“You can try to prepare, but it does not work,” she said. “As the seconds tick closer to the time they leave the more your heart aches. The more the world closes in. The tighter you cling. You just want to hold your little baby forever. But you can’t.

“I have adopted so I have no hang up about family needing to be blood,” Tonya added. “These little babies come into your home and you make them a part of you. They are ours for a short time. So when they go home it’s almost like a death. That’s kind of what it feels like. You will most likely never see them again and you don’t have any control over how they are being raised or how they are being loved. You just pray.” 

But even knowing they may face this heartache, the Torkelsons know that the time and love they give to these children has a tremendous positive impact on the children, the family and their own family. They are led by their faith and put their trust in God.

“We do it because we are called to do it,” she said. “We do it because we love the children. We do it because these babies need a safe place to go to. We do it because it teaches our kids to love others. We do it because we hope that we are helping even just a little. We do it to try to meet the parents and try to form some sort of bond with them. We do it for God.

“People always say to us ‘I could never foster. I would get too attached,’” she continued. “I tell them if you don’t get attached, if it does not break your heart when they leave, then you’re not doing it right. Fostering is about more than you. It’s about more than how you feel. It’s about giving kids a chance at a better life. It’s about giving parents the tools they need to give it to them. It’s about family and family is messy sometimes but so worth it.

“Fostering is about showing Jesus to kids and their families, maybe for the first time in their lives,” she said. “Fostering is about learning not to judge people, loving them where they are now not where you think they should be. Fostering is beautiful and we are so blessed to be a part of it.” 
To learn more about becoming a foster parent, click here and contact the nearest office in Abilene, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio or Tyler.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

MCH Core Value Award for Service - Dennis Tynes

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

Methodist Children’s Home Core Values are:
Christian Principles

Dennis Tynes, security officer, received the 2015 Core Award for Service at the all-staff meeting in October. The recipient for the Core Award for Service is someone who shows compassion through generosity and care.

According to Tynes’s nomination, “Dennis has worked for MCH for 31 years and has been vigilant about keeping the MCH campus safe. He takes pride in his job performance and work ethic.  When unexpected duties arise he is always willing to ‘step up’ and take them on. Dennis has an excellent rapport with staff and youth. He is calm when interacting with youth and makes well thought out decisions concerning the best course of action to take and immediately takes the proper action needed. Dennis has always been a leader, not only for MCH but for the City of Waco. He is well respected by other officers and staff, and has been a positive role model for our youth.”

“I was very humbled to receive this award. MCH has been a wonderful place to work,” said Tynes.

Gary Freeman, director of security and Tynes supervisor had this to share, “Dennis has a sincere appreciation for the work being done at MCH. I know from working with him he is thankful for his time here at MCH and how well he personally has been treated. Dennis is devoted to his job and conducts himself in a professional Christian manner.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ag Showmanship and Winter Festival 2015

On Dec. 2, Methodist Children’s Home staff and students came out to support Ag students and spend an afternoon in fellowship during the 2015 Ag Showmanship and Winter Festival at the MCH Boys Ranch.

Steve Kruse, Ag teacher at MCH School, gave his students an opportunity to show their animals in front of a crowd at the horse pavilion. He has 33 students in his Ag class who learn to take care of steers, sheep, goats and swine.

“I want the kids first of all to learn responsibility and then learn to show off the good points of their project and try to overcome the bad points,” Kruse said. “But most of all I want them to have fun and gain lifelong experience.” 

During the showmanship event, Kruse’s students presented their animals before a guest judge, Dr. Shane McLellan. McLellan is the McLennan County extension agent and has judged at several major livestock shows in Texas. He asked the youth questions about the care of their animal and gave them suggestions for improving their showing technique. He then chose a winner and presented them with a belt buckle. The winners were: Steer – Galen; Sheep – Jaelyne; Goat – Sheldon; and Swine – Marvin.

“I thought the event was a big success especially after visiting with the kids and hearing their questions and comments which told me they learned something,” Kruse said.

Directly following Ag Showmanship was the Winter Festival. The festival, organized by recreation staff from Boys Ranch and Waco campus, was originally scheduled for November but was postponed due to weather. Staff and youth ate lunch and enjoyed games, hay rides, horse rides, bounce houses, crafts and face painting. It was a great opportunity for fellowship and to enjoy the Ranch atmosphere.

Friday, December 4, 2015

MCH student receives coaching from Holly Tucker

Alyssa, a senior at MCH School, sang for Holly Tucker, local country singer and former contestant on the NBC reality show, “The Voice,” during a coaching session on Nov. 21.

The coaching workshop was part of an event held at Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco sponsored by Therapy CenterStage Productions called “Finding Your Voice.” Therapy CenterStage Productions is a group that works to bring awareness to mental health issues through the creative and expressive arts. Only four students in the Waco area received this special opportunity to work with Tucker one-on-one. Alyssa was selected after she performed during an open mic session at the Waco Cultural Arts Fest in September.  

Alyssa said she always sang round the house as a child and would sing at recess in elementary school instead of playing. Then in middle school, she continued singing and began playing the piano. Her first performance was in seventh grade when she sang in front of an audience of 900 people during a Christmas performance. Since then, she has done a few performances, including small concerts in local churches with MCH spiritual development minister Ahmad Washington.

“I love music and playing the piano,” Alyssa said. “Now it’s a hobby. I like to sing for church. It’s a good distraction; a good coping skill.”

During coaching session with Tucker, Alyssa sang the song “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flatts. Tucker gave her tips on breathing techniques and also sang along with her during the session.

“It was really nice,” Alyssa said. “She told me to never give up on singing and that I have a beautiful voice. It was a good experience. It was fun to have people watching and give me compliments.”  

Thursday, December 3, 2015

MCH Core Value Award for Christian Principles - Stephanie Lewis

Methodist Children’s Home 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

Stephanie Lewis, spiritual development minister, received the 2015 Core Award for Christian Principles in October. The recipient of the Core Award for Christian Principles is someone who applies the principles of the Christian faith which serves as the foundation for this ministry.

According to Lewis’s nomination: “Stephanie has been a faithful part of this ministry since 2008, serving in the Development Department before joining the Spiritual Development Department earlier this year, where she specifically works with our seniors and college age youth. No matter what maelstrom may be swirling around her, Stephanie is an ever faithful rock for Christ, and an encouragement to all who are blessed to cross her path. Stephanie has a Christ like grace that is enviable, and it has already begun to work its way into the hearts of every youth she ministers. I look forward to the work that God will complete through her in this ministry.”

Kim Clark, director of spiritual development and Lewis’s supervisor had this to share, “God has gifted Stephanie with the ability to truly love and care for people. She has such a kind heart and sweet spirit. God’s joy is apparent in Stephanie when she is in relationship with His children. I am grateful to have her as a part of this ministry team.”

Monday, November 23, 2015

"The Bulldog Cafe" Fall Showcase

Theatre students
On November 19, Methodist Children’s Home choir and theater groups performed their fall showcase, titled “The Bulldog Café.” The Fellowship Hall was transformed into a “coffee shop” atmosphere where the audience could partake in hot chocolate and various desserts before the performances. 

The choir sang a lineup of music that incorporated four different languages - English, Spanglish, Latin, and Swahili. The students also did arrangements that included rapping and beat boxing. 

“The students have been working incredibly hard all semester,” said Jill Sims, choir teacher. “It is my great honor to work with such a talented and dedicated group of students and I am tremendously proud of each of them!”

The theater class has been working on playwriting. The students were not given a specific topic but asked to write about what mattered to them. “I was blown away with what emerged from the students,” said Kira Rockwell, recreation coordinator. “They created pieces that were comical, dramatic, fantasy, and stories of loss and forgiveness. Their vivid imaginations were absolutely inspiring.”

The fall showcase was an opportunity for students to have their original plays and pieces read out loud for an audience for the very first time.

“In the almost three years I have been teaching theater at MCH, the writing process and the staged readings of the students’ original work has by far been my favorite project,” Rockwell said.

Choir Students:                          Theater Students:
Skyler                                                    Jayden
Apryl                                                     Chris
Ben                                                        Alfred
Joseph                                                  Trent
Josh                                                       Daxie
Desi                                                       Camray
Patrick                                                  DNayjah
Hawa                                                    Jamia

Choir students

Thursday, November 19, 2015

MCH Core Value Award for Hope - Betty Morrow

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

The Core Values for MCH are:
Christian Principles

Betty Morrow, school coordinator, received the 2015 Core Award for Hope at the all-staff meeting in October. The recipient of the Core Award for Hope is someone who believes in the possibilities of the future.

According to Morrow’s nomination, “Betty is a dedicated and professional employee with a heart of gold. She embraces the Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) model of care and incorporates this model into her daily interactions with the students. She encourages students to reach their potential and work to achieve their goals by discussing their future plans and making them aware of opportunities to be successful. Betty works closely with the public schools, outside programs and Transition Service staff  to ensure our students are getting their individual needs met. She takes pride in maintaining an open flow of communication and making sure staff and students have the information they need to make good decisions about their future.”

“I was both humbled and appreciative of receiving the MCH Core Value for Hope,” said Morrow. “The scripture, Jeremiah 29:11, that says ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to give you hope and a future,’ I really try to live by this every day. Really listening to what our students are saying motivates me to encourage them to get a good education plan for their future. I have never had a student laugh at me for reminding them of the childhood story, ‘The Little Engine That Could.’ It is gratifying to later tell a student ‘I knew you could!’”

Amy Grisham, director of school support and Morrow’s supervisor had this to share, “Betty’s intentional and caring nature offers a hope filled environment to all students she serves. She helps them set reasonable and attainable goals. Thank you Betty for giving our students hope for a bright future.”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

MCH Core Value Award for Relationships - Phil and Marie Vaughn

Methodist Children’s Home 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

Phil and Marie Vaughn, home parents, received the 2015 Core Award for Relationships at the all-staff meeting in October. The recipient for the Core Award for Relationships is someone who builds healthy relationships through communication, respect, trust and love.

According to the Vaughn’s nomination: “The Vaughns have been with MCH for six years. During this time they have been home parents at the Sammy Baugh group home in Jayton, Texas. The Vaughns have touched many children’s lives. They have left a lasting impression and sense of hope with these children while that have been in the care of MCH and after they leave. Phil and Marie work hard to build a trusting and loving relationships with the children they work with. At the end of even the longest days, Marie still takes time to visit with the children who need to talk through their day, or Phil will spend extra time with a child saying prayers and reading stories. The Vaughns take pride in the work they do and truly see this as their ministry to children and families.”

“We feel honored to be awarded the Core Award for Relationships,” said Marie. “Working in the small town of Jayton, we have strived to build good relationships with people in the community and schools. It feels really good to be recognized for a value that we have enjoyed working towards.”

Kelly Smith, outreach administrator, had this to share, “Phil and Marie are tenured home parents who bring compassion and acceptance with them to work each and every day. The Vaughns work tirelessly to create felt safety for each child in their care, and they exceed expectations in order to help each child feel at home and loved while they are with us. We are so thankful for the skills and expertise they bring to our foster care program.” 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Tyler Foster Families visit We Hope Ranch

Foster families and staff from MCH Family Outreach in Tyler gathered together on Oct. 17 for an afternoon of games, hay rides, food and fellowship during the third annual We Hope Ranch Fall Festival. Around 150 people were in attendance.

“The Tyler families look forward to this event each year because they say that the ranch is a place where kids from ‘hard places’ can have fun and enjoy themselves without being judged or looked at differently,” said Latasha Hickman, Tyler outreach director. 

The event is hosted by Jeff and Connie Pinkerton, loyal supporters of Methodist Children’s Home. After learning that MCH had an office in Tyler, the couple reached out to staff to invite them to their land for the fall festival. Since 2013, the fun gathering has continued each year on the third Saturday in October.

“Their kindness and generosity toward our foster families and the Tyler staff that attend this annual event is overwhelming,” Hickman said. “They provide the location, the food, the games and prizes, and candy for the kids. All we have to do is show-up. We are honored to have them be a part of Methodist Children’s Home.” 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

MCH Core Value Award for Responsibility - Janice Burris

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

The Core Values of MCH are:
Christian Principles

Janice Burris, youth care counselor, received the 2015 Core Award for Responsibility at the all-staff meeting in October. The recipient of the Core Award for Responsibility is defined as someone who is accountable for self and others.

According to Burris’s nomination, “Mrs. Burris exemplifies the responsibility of caring for young people. She believes in the youth she serves and it is apparent in the standards she sets for them, and she is respected for this. She offers the example of compassion, accountability and excellence. She does not shy away from conflict or uncomfortable situations, but shows through her own behavior how to build lasting and healthy relationships. I enjoy working with Janice, especially on Sunday mornings during worship. Because of her example, the youth are participatory, respectful and attentive. She has a way of bringing out in them leadership and accountability.”

“I was pleasantly surprised to receive the Core Award,” said Burris. “Working for MCH is something I love being a part of. I have the pleasure to be a part of our youth’s lives and their lives touching me.”

Korey Wright, unit manager, and Burris’s supervisor had this to share: “Janice has dedicated over two decades of her time and energy to MCH. She is a shining reflection of what it means to be a youth care worker. She is willing to do whatever she can to serve and care for our youth. Through her years of service she has remained faithful to her belief that MCH had the potential to be a positive influence for youth. She has interacted with a countless number of youth, yet she continues to see each one as unique and special. Her willingness to connect with youth and enter into their life story reflects the joy she has for the work she does at MCH. We appreciate everything she does.”

Monday, November 2, 2015

MCH theatre students get real-world experience

Several boys from the theatre class at Methodist Children’s Home got hands-on experience working on a professional production after visiting the Waco Civic Theatre in October. Chris, Alfred, Ben, Samuel and Josh along with their instructor Kira Rockwell volunteered to help out with preparations for the theatre’s musical The Addams Family.

“I really wanted the students to see and experience firsthand what it’s like to work on a show in the professional theatre world,” Rockwell said. “I wanted them to see a stage, tech equipment, a scenic shop and most importantly, to see all the people and multiple talents it takes to put on a show.”

The Waco Civic Theatre features a full season of shows for the Waco community. Rockwell reached out to the theatre for learning opportunities for her students. The theatre invited volunteers to come out to help prepare its set and props for the show.

“The boys had a blast working with power tools, spray paint and other tech equipment,” Rockwell said. “Their favorite project was getting to work on a large potion cart, a big prop that will be used in the actual show. They were respectful, kind and true theatre professionals that day, and for that I am so very proud.”

The entire theatre class returned to the Waco Civic Theatre as audience members to see the Addams Family Musical on Oct. 29.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lubbock office participates in Annual Pumpkin Trail

MCH Family Outreach in Lubbock took part in fall festivities for the Oct. 15-18 communitywide 7th Annual Pumpkin Trail hosted by the City of Lubbock Parks and Recreation department. This year, the staff chose the theme “It Takes a Village.”

Lubbock Outreach provided the pumpkins and staff, foster parents, and clients carved 45 pumpkins for the display, including Halloween-themed houses and jack-o-lantern faces. This is the fourth year that Lubbock Outreach has participated in the event and the second year to be a sponsor. In addition to the 45 pumpkins, the theme of “It Takes a Village” was carried out with props of hay bales, toy houses, glow-in-the-dark Halloween creatures, and MCH logo signage.

“We decided this would be a great way to bring our families, foster parents and staff together to publicize our agency and proudly show off their pumpkin carving skills with their contributions to the display,” said Dana Bearden, Lubbock Outreach director.

“With the implementation of the Family Solutions program, we also wanted to become sponsors of the event to help link the MCH Family Outreach name to our community through events such as this one,” Bearden added. “It is always so much fun for our families and staff to brainstorm about theme ideas, carve the pumpkins and then be able to see all of our hard work lit up on the trail.”

Last year, the trail boasted over 1,950 carved pumpkins and attendance for the four-night free community event was more than 18,000. This year, the goal for the number of pumpkins was 2,000. In previous years, Lubbock Outreach participated with the themes of “Fire Up for Families,” “Team Up with MCH” and “Be a Super Hero.” The fall celebration is free to the public and hot chocolate and cookies are offered.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

MCH youth compete in 2015 Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo

Methodist Children’s Home School (MCHS) FFA chapter showed off their skills and conviction during the Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo held Oct. 8-17, 2015, at Extraco Events Center in Waco. Their hard work from the semester was evident during the lamb, swine and steer show as well as the Ag mechanics competition.

For this year’s show, 31 animals and 11 shop projects were entered. The highest placing for animals went to students showing swine, with Drennon placing first in his class followed by Nadia, placing second. In ag mechanics, Chayce received first in his class for his four-bale hay trailer. Galen and Jacob also each received third place overall for their projects, a hog trap and deer skull lamp. MCH took third overall in sweepstakes out of 13 schools.

“I feel like the 2015 show was a huge success,” said Steve Kruse, Ag teacher. “The students all listened to the judges and understood what needed to happen to improve their project. Also this group of kids all came dressed in the proper attire to show animals. I applaud the case workers, home parents and Methodist Children’s Home administration for making this happen.”

Here are the results:

Apryl - 6th
Iyahnna - 7th
Rainn - 9th
Also participated: Chris, Jaelyne, Juden, DeAndre, Bryson, Marisa, Hawa, and Laura

Drennon - 1st
Nadia - 2nd   
Marvin - 6th
Noah - 7th
Nick - 7th
Also participated: Ariel and Caelib

Sonja - 5th
Mikayla - 6th
Jacob - 6th

Ag mechanics results                                                                      
Chayce   -   4 bale hay trailer   -   1st class, Blue quality
Chayce/Noah   -   Steak cooker   -   Blue quality
Galen   -   Hog trap   -   3rd overall, Blue quality
Chayce/Mikayla/Sonja   -   Tailgate bench   -   Blue quality
Austin/Starr   -   Cedar furniture set   -   Blue quality
Justus   -   BBQ pit trailer   -   Blue quality
Jacob   -   Deer skull lamp   -   3rd overall, Red quality
Nick   -   Deer feeder   -   Red quality 

Click here to view our photo gallery of the event. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Cooper Foundation grant lights up MCH

After a generous grant from the Cooper Foundation in Waco, Methodist Children’s Home School has new lighting throughout the building to enhance the learning environment for students.

The Cooper Foundation is a nonprofit trust established in 1943 “for the purpose of benevolent public usefulness,” according to its website. The foundation awards funds to local agencies in order to “make Waco a better place to live.” Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) was granted $59,740 by the Cooper Foundation to cover a project to replace lights and fixtures for all three buildings in the school.

“We appreciate The Cooper Foundation and their generous investment in the Waco area over the years and we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with them for our school lighting project,” said Jeremy Webb, MCH benefactor relations officer.

Studies have shown fluorescent lighting can have adverse effects on children’s behavior, especially those who struggle with emotional trauma and sensory issues. The Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University, a partner of MCH, encouraged MCH leadership to pursue the project based on their research.

Since many MCH youth have been affected by these challenges, replacing the lighting in the school from outdated fluorescent to LED lights became an important project. MCH’s plant department worked hard to complete the project this summer before students returned for the fall semester. The new lights have also provided better energy efficiency with savings around 25 percent. 

“The project serves to provide our students an environment at school that promotes a de-escalation of negative behavior,” Webb said. “Not only does this project provide students the best possible environment for learning and healing, it will also position MCH to save money with updated and more energy efficient lighting fixtures. We cannot thank the Cooper Foundation enough and value their investment in our children.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

MCH starts Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter

Methodist Children’s Home is excited about starting a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) chapter on our Waco campus. FCA values are Integrity, Serving, Teamwork and Excellence with the vision of seeing the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.

Ahmad Washington, spiritual development minister for MCH, has been a guest speaker and performed music at several FCA football camps.
Washington leads a weekly huddle for our athletes and coaches before games. This is a time for prayer and to answer questions related to the Lord and what His activity in their lives looks like.

“The huddle is just another opportunity to teach and share the love of Jesus and the truth of the Holy Scriptures in ways that directly address them as young men,” shared Washington. “It offers a time and place without the pressure that comes from young ladies being present, where they can share and be vulnerable about issues that make it difficult for them to live as Godly young men.”

 The youth attend on a volunteer basis but “so far these young men have been open and receptive to our time, nearly all have been present for each huddle,” said Washington. “When the coaches see me in the school they have commented about how the Word of God has spoken directly to their lives also and inspired them to walk in their faith more boldly as they coach our youth.”

Matt Rodgers, MCH athletic director, had this to share: “I am excited, I have been wanting an FCA chapter at MCH for a few years now. Pastor Ahmad played football for Baylor University and understands what it takes to be successful on the field; but he has also has had life experiences that many of our young men have gone through. I am very thankful and appreciative for his leadership.

“Ten years from now very few people will remember how many games the MCH football team won in 2015, Rodgers said. “But what people will remember is how the lives of these young men have been changed and impacted through their relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Monday, September 28, 2015

MCHS students get head start on college with dual-credit courses

This school year Methodist Children’s Home has 17 youth from the Waco campus and Boys Ranch who are participating in the dual credit program. The University Charter School (UT-UCS), located on the Waco campus offers this program which provides juniors and seniors the opportunity to enroll in courses that will earn them both college and high school credit.

Students will be attending classes at either McLennan Community College (MCC) or Texas State Technical College (TSTC). Each will earn dual credit or certifications in the following courses; freshman English, Psychology, Sociology, Texas Government, College Transition, Welding and Electronics.

Two of our students are participating in the Greater Waco Advanced Health Care Academy (GWAHCA). GWAHCA is a new program affiliated with the Health Science program at MCC where students are able to earn a certificate as an Advanced Certified Nursing Assistant.

“What a great opportunity for our juniors and seniors to better prepare themselves for college and vocational careers,” said Betty Morrow, school coordinator. “By being exposed to college level rigor and routine, these students potentially have greater success when they graduate from high school and enroll in college.”

These students all had to have a 3.0 grade point average, in addition to having passed the college readiness test in order to qualify to take these courses. Good luck!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Looking Out for Our Athletes - Athletic Trainer Sarah Arocha

The Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) athletic program on the Waco campus is in full swing, with many of our youth participating in football and volleyball this fall. MCH also offers youth the opportunity to participate in basketball and track at different times during the school year, and for the first time this year, golf.

Sarah Arocha, athletic trainer, has been with MCH for five years. Arocha earned her Bachelor of Science in Education in athletic training and earned a master’s degree in sports management, both from Baylor University. During games, Arocha is a mainstay on the sidelines, keeping a sharp eye on the players during live action and consulting with athletes on the sidelines throughout the competition.

“Often people are not sure of what I do, so I explain that athletic training is a branch of sports medicine,” said Arocha. “As the athletic trainer my responsibilities are to prevent, evaluate, treat and   rehabilitate athletic injuries. I try to educate our students that as an athlete they have the responsibility to themselves and to their teammates to take care of their bodies.”

Another part of prevention is education. MCH athletic staff promote healthy habits by encouraging our student athletes to eat healthy, drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest, and report any injuries.
 “Youth in our care face many challenges, but when they participate in athletics, it is an opportunity during practice and games, to have fun and learn something new about themselves,” Arocha said.

“What I enjoy the most about my job is seeing the smiles on our student athletes’ faces when they get the volleyball over the net for the first time or make their first basket,” she said. “When a student is injured I am calm and reassuring because I know they are automatically thinking the worst. I try to build trust by being there for them when they are not feeling their best or spending one on one time with them, encouraging them when they are doing their physical therapy.”

Athletic staff keep the students who may be out with an injury connected by letting the student assist coaches, give pointers to other players or cheer on their teammates during practice.

Matt Rodgers, athletic director and Arocha’s supervisor, had this to share: “Sarah is a huge asset not only to MCH athletics but to the MCH community. She serves in many different areas and is a constant source of reassurance and gives our youth confidence through our athletic programs.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

MCH receives inaugural 2015 Charity Champions award

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) has been named a Charity Champion by The First National Bank – McGregor. 

For the next 12 months, MCH will be the focus of a marketing campaign funded by the bank, which launched the Charity Champions initiative to commemorate its 125th anniversary in 2014 and to celebrate and give back to the community. Nonprofits are nominated for the award and are voted on by the employees and board of the bank. Just six organizations are chosen as Charity Champions each year.

Winners are notified of their selection and the bank reveals the organization with an on-field presentation during a Baylor football game. MCH President/CEO Tim Brown received the award on Saturday, Sept. 12 during Baylor’s home-opener against Lamar while a video presentation was shown on the McLane Stadium jumbotron.

“It is an honor for Methodist Children’s Home to be selected as the first Charity Champion of the 2015 season, especially as we commemorate our 125th anniversary of offering hope to children, youth and families," said Brown. “Whether it is through our residential youth programs or our Family Outreach offices providing valuable in-home and community based services, MCH is committed to building stronger and healthier families.”

The bank also features the winning organization through press releases, newspaper ads and television commercials. In addition to the marketing awareness, MCH’s staff and leadership team will have the opportunity to participate in an executive training program that is also funded by the bank. Led by 360 Solutions, a global leadership and organizational training company, trainees will examine their organization's long-term strategy, the roles and responsibilities of the teams and evaluate the skills needed to be a successful nonprofit organization.

“Methodist Children's Home has been a champion for children, teens and families for many, many years,” said David Littlewood, president, The First National Bank. “With a long and well-respected history in Central Texas, the bank is honored to welcome MCH into the Charity Champion family."

Monday, September 14, 2015

MCH Family Outreach in Corpus supports local families at Back to School events

With the close of summer and a new school year beginning, MCH Family Outreach in Corpus Christi made sure to be available to help families during this transition. In the month of August, the MCH Family Outreach team attended five major events in the greater Corpus Christi area to support back-to-school efforts.

“We use the events not only to connect directly with clients, but with other vendors in attendance to learn more about what they do,” explained Marisol Gomez, director of MCH Family Outreach in Corpus Christi. “Our staff uses this time to share how we can work together with the families we serve. We were able to get referrals from these events and speak with clients directly about the services we provide.”

Attending community events throughout the year – not just during the back-to-school rush – is one of the many ways the MCH Family Outreach is able to stay involved in the Corpus Christi community. This year the Corpus Christi staff participated in more back-to-school events than in the past. As a result, they were able to make more connections with families as well as referral sources.

“This is the first year we were able to participate in the LEAD First backpack stuffing event where almost 2,000 backpacks were filled with school supplies, snacks and food coupons for children and families in need,” Gomez said. “The staff felt this was a fulfilling experience to be able to participate in this event that would in turn assist many children in need in the community. This was a great team-building exercise for staff although it had not been planned out as that initially.”

In addition to helping stuff backpacks with the LEAD First Foundation, MCH Family Outreach attended back-to-school fairs at Flour Bluff, First United Methodist Church of Portland, Keach Family Library, and the Corpus Christi Police Department (CCPD). Partnering with organizations in the Corpus Christi community provides many mutually beneficial relationships between MCH Family Outreach and other local agencies, Gomez noted.

“At the CCPD Operation Safe Return Fair we were able to connect with several grandparents who are raising grandchildren and inform them not only about our services but of upcoming events for grandparents,” Gomez said.

In July, nine families in Corpus Christi were participating in the Grandparents As Parents Program (GAPP) and by the end of August, that number had almost doubled. GAPP supports grandparents and other relatives who serve as the primary caregivers for their grandchildren. Through MCH Family Outreach, grandparents can receive assistance through monthly case management, access to community resources, support groups and workshops.

To learn more about all the services MCH Family Outreach provides, as well as to find the office nearest to you, click here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

MCH to recreate historical event during 125th anniversary celebration

This historical photo of a gathering at Haynie Garden was the
inspiration for MCH's plans for the 125th Anniversary Celebration.
On October 10, Methodist Children’s Home will commemorate 125 years of service during a celebration on the Waco campus. During the event, a scene from MCH’s history will be recreated as the community of MCH staff, children, families and supporters come together for an outdoor luncheon near what was once the site of the Viola Haynie Garden.

In 1921, Mrs. Viola Haynie of Rice, Texas, donated $1,000 to construct the outdoor venue. Haynie Garden was constructed behind the Abe Mulkey utility building, an area that is now located near the Administration building that faces Herring Avenue. The boys of Methodist Children’s Home used limestone to fence in the area and form tiered seating for the audience. They also built a wooden Grecian archway as a backdrop to a stage and landscaped the area surrounding the venue with shrubs and grass.

On May 27, 1921, Haynie Garden was dedicated during a ceremony with several hundred guests in attendance. The garden became a popular venue for MCH’s children and supporters that featured various musical and theater performances as well as gatherings such as watermelon picnics until the 1960s. It was also an appealing backdrop for photographs and can be seen in group pictures throughout MCH’s history. In fact, it is a photograph of a watermelon picnic that inspired the plan for this year’s 125th anniversary event.

“This area of our campus has special significance,” said Trey Oakley, vice president for development. “Many of our alumni and tenured staff remember events in this Haynie Garden area. We pray for good weather but we know, no matter what, this location is the perfect spot to celebrate our 125th anniversary.”

The 125th anniversary celebration on Oct. 10 will begin at 10 a.m. with an exclusive Q&A with special guests Chip and Joanna Gaines. The picnic-style barbecue luncheon starts at 12:30 p.m. and is free of charge but registration is required. MCH employees and residents will receive specific instructions regarding plans for that day.

Staff, MCH residents and alumni, families and visitors to the Waco campus are invited to “come by our Visitors Center in Perkins Heritage Home to view the Haynie Garden exhibit and see some of the photos from our past that inspired our plans for the Oct. 10 event,” Oakley added.

This photo shows the construction of Haynie Garden back in 1921.
The Haynie Garden display is featured in the Vistors Center located
in the Perkins Heritage Home on the Waco campus.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Back to School 2015 - MCH School

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) Charter School, located on the Waco campus, officially started classes this past Thursday, Aug. 20.  In the 12 years of our partnership with the University of Texas-University Charter School system, 245 students have earned their high school diploma.

“Over the summer we completed a number of improvements at the school,” said Moe Dozier, vice president for programs. “The improvements include new lighting in all the classrooms and new classroom furniture for our students. Our partnership with the University of Texas–University Charter School remains strong and we are pleased to be adding sixth grade and expanding our Day Student Program.”

The most noticeable change is the uniforms our students will be wearing. Our students will have the choice of slacks, shorts or skorts along with different colored polo shirts which have the MCH logo on them.

Cristy Cunningham, principal, had this to share, “The overall response from students has been positive about the additions and changes. We have had fewer schedule changes this year than in the past and our Ag classes are full. We are excited about the new year!”

Friday, August 14, 2015

MCH School staff take on the Alpine Tower

Staff from the Methodist Children’s Home School (MCHS) have been preparing all summer to lead students through challenges as they begin another school year. On June 5, school staff took on a different challenge as they tackled the Alpine Tower course at the Boys Ranch.

School staff were invited for the second year to the Boys Ranch to spend the morning testing their skills on the ropes course. Cristy Cunningham, principal at MCHS, wanted her staff to participate after she said her previous school did a ropes course as an exercise to “work together as a professional learning community.” She said it creates an opportunity for staff to learn each other’s strengths and fears.

The MCH recreation department led the school staff through the ropes course training in the morning. After the training, staff were invited to eat lunch at the Ranch with the boys and visit their homes. Cunningham said the day was a great experience for her staff.

“New staff are supported by returning staff,” she said. “Leaders and ‘outside the box thinkers’ are identified immediately. The greatest goal  of the ropes training is that we come together as one team cheering each other on to accomplish a task that may seem overwhelming to an individual, but as a team there is victory.” 

MCHS, located on the MCH Waco campus, was established in 2003 and is operated in partnership with the University of Texas – University Charter School.