Friday, August 11, 2017

Independent Living residents get tips on money management

Young adults in the Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) Independent Living program (ILP) got valuable advice from representatives of Wells Fargo during six-week money management courses. Personal bankers came to Clay Commons apartment complex to lead the groups in lessons such as earning money, spending smart, saving money and building credit.

The course was offered at different times on two days of the week, repeating curriculum for the week so that all residents interested were able to attend. ILP residents Tameka and Chrislynn, who recently graduated from MCH charter school in May, attended the courses and felt they were getting great advice from the Wells Fargo representatives.

“It helps me with learning how to budget my money,” Chrislynn said.

Tameka added, “It is teaching us a lot of things we need to know in life and how to better prepare.”
Wells Fargo branch manager Julie Cowser, who helped teach the classes along with personal bankers Tabatha Turner, Larry Maxwell and Annamarie Eckenrode, said this opportunity came about after she reached out to MCH in an effort to give back to the community.

“Our branch stays involved with the community and I was searching nonprofits in our area,” Cowser said. “When I saw MCH I was excited about the opportunities to help students.”

Cowser worked with Jonathan Olivarez, Independent Living coordinator for MCH, in scheduling the classes. The students follow a course curriculum from Wells Fargo that gives real-world advice geared toward young adults on topics such as saving money on your grocery bill, determining what rent you can afford and purchasing a vehicle.

“These financial education sessions are important to our residents because they help them better understand what will be expected to successfully transition to independence, and it outlines various steps they can take to ensure success,” Olivarez said. “By partnering with Wells Fargo, it helps residents build relationships outside of MCH, which is crucial to long-term success, and it lends credibility to the things they hear from our staff because they are hearing many of the same things from an outside agency.”

The Independent Living program serves MCH graduates as they transition into adulthood. Young adults first live at homes located at the back of the Waco campus before moving to the Clay Commons apartments located off campus. They receive guidance from MCH staff as they work and/or attend advanced education while taking steps toward becoming independent.

Tabatha Turner and Larry Maxwell of Wells Fargo were two of the instructors for the course.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Core Value Award for Hope - Austin Brown

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) 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
Responsibility Growth

Austin Brown, clinical therapist, received the 2017 Core Award for Hope at the spring all-staff meeting. The recipient of the Core Award for Hope is someone who believes in the possibilities of the future.

According to his nomination, Brown embodies the Core Value of Hope through his innate ability to connect with and offer hope to the youth at MCH. Even through behavior meltdowns he is a calming presence and someone who the youth trust with their challenges.

Outside of his work with our youth, Brown was also a vital member of the mentoring committee and volunteered to mentor a new staff member as part of a pilot project. He set aside time to connect with this new staff member and help them connect with others at MCH.

Julie Spiech, associate administrator for the Waco campus and Brown’s supervisor, gave another example of Brown’s repertoire with the youth.

“Another youth on campus requested Austin as her therapist after just one interaction with him during an acute crisis,” she said. “This young lady did not connect easily with anyone in her home, but something about Austin made it easy for her to want to come back and talk to him again.”

Charlsie Whitney, program administrator for residential services, said Brown provides family and individual counseling for MCH residents and their families in a hopeful and inspiring manner. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

U.M. ARMY 2017

Seven youth from Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) had an experience they will always remember during the United Methodist Action Reach-Out Mission by Youth (U.M. ARMY) trip July 16-22. MCH representatives work alongside volunteers from Kingwood United Methodist Church for this annual mission trip.

According to its website, U.M. ARMY “provides an opportunity for youth and adults to experience Christian growth through service to others.” Volunteers provide home repairs and maintenance for low income, elderly and/or disabled homeowners who are unable to make the repairs themselves. This year, the group traveled to Port Arthur, Texas, to assist families who were referred by social workers from a home health agency.  
Kingwood representatives work with MCH staff to determine groups for the mission trip. The young people from MCH are spread out into different groups to work alongside adult team leaders and youth from Kingwood and other church youth groups. Ron Britton, spiritual development minister, accompanied the residents this year. It was his 15th mission trip with MCH, and Britton said every trip he looks forward to watching the youth transform and grow through their experience in helping others.

“It is a tangible way to change someone’s life,” Britton said about the mission trips. “I love getting to see our students experience that [because it also] creates a situation where we explore their faith.”

MCH youth built wheelchair ramps, painted houses, reinforced porches, and helped out in the church kitchen throughout the week. Gail, a resident at MCH, attended U.M. ARMY for the first time this year.
“You feel a sense of joy to come help people who need it and don’t have the resources,” she said. “It is a beautiful thing to see them get that freedom. It is all about the people we are impacting through these missions.”

MCH’s connection with Kingwood UMC began through their senior pastor who developed a love for the ministry, and the relationship has continued to grow. Kingwood sponsors MCH residents each year so that they can attend mission trips.

“For Kingwood, they love the opportunity to give our kids a chance to do something they’ve never done and be there with them,” Britton said. “For our kids, it is surprising to them how other people are willing to do things for them that they don’t know. During the trip, they are able to step into that environment of openness and comradery and by the end of the week, they’ve accepted it and enjoy it.”

Throughout the week, the friendships between the volunteers grow as they work hard during the day, worship in the evenings, and celebrate God’s love as they give back to others.

“With our kids, I’m hoping they grow in their faith, and understand and appreciate that they are not the only ones who hurt or have problems,” Britton said. “They come to realize that and it leads to growth in their faith and in the way they view people and humanity in general.” 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Students have a day on the job at a local retail store

A group of six Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) youth were able to receive tips, personal insight and hands-on job training at a seminar on July 18  hosted by Waco’s local Old Navy store. The job training seminar, which took place at the local Waco Old Navy storefront, was hosted by Old Navy representatives.

The four-hour seminar was both informative and interactive, according to Codi Stafford, MCH recreation coordinator.

Youth listened to Old Navy employees share about their line of work in retail. Further, the employees walked students step-by-step through how to get a job. Then, students were able to be hands-on in the seminar by participating in mock job interviews, training on registers and inventory, and how to speak professionally with customers.

Kimberly Bobbitt, recreation director at MCH, said the event was a great opportunity for MCH youth to “gain some hands-on job training experience and [gain] clearer understanding of what it looks like to get and retain employment at a basic job level.”

According to Old Navy’s website, Old Navy employees believe that “business communities need to work together to thrive.” In turn, as an organization, they focus their community programs on areas that line up with their business expertise. “We think we can make the biggest difference by advancing women, teens, and young adults and supporting volunteers,” the company states.

It is Bobbitt’s hope that through this experience “students gained wider understanding of insight into what the process of getting a job looks like, as well as what a ‘day on the job’ might look like.”

“Often our students are told what it takes to get a job and what behavior is needed to keep one,” Bobbitt said. “But it is not often that they get to experience a day on the job and get the hands-on experience to back up these words.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Core Value Award for Hope - Dr. Elise Pinney

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) 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

Dr. Elise Pinney, director of psychological services, received the 2017 Core Award for Hope at the spring all-staff meeting. The recipient of the Core Award for Hope is someone who believes in the possibilities of the future.

According to her nomination, Dr. Pinney cares deeply about the safety and well-being of all our youth. She exemplifies the Core Value of Hope in the way she helps youth find an ideal balance of both structure and nurture to help them realize their full potential in life. She does this with a caring, compassionate and genuine demeanor which make youth feel heard and trusted.

Dr. Pinney meets with youth on a weekly basis to provide them support and encouragement on their goals and also handles many acute situations when our youth are in crisis.

Through her personable and caring approach, Dr. Pinney is able to quickly establish connections with youth in order to provide them a sense of felt-safety and comfort. She instills in them hope to help them thrive in our program.

Julie Spiech, associate administrator and Dr. Pinney’s supervisor, said she had the utmost respect for Dr. Pinney and the way she has worked to offer hope to those in the MCH community for many years.

A quote form Austin Brown, clinical therapist, further sums up Dr. Pinney’s impact on MCH: “It has been an honor for me to work with and learn from Dr. Pinney. She is always quick to serve as needs arise and she does so with a consistent calmness and stability that puts those around her at ease. She is someone who I think embodies the core values that we strive for as an organization.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Methodist Children’s Home again receives four-star rating

Methodist Children’s Home on July 1, 2017, received another four-star rating by Charity Navigator – the highest rating available from America’s largest independent charity evaluator, according to Tim Brown, president and CEO of MCH.

“Any success is based upon a steadfast commitment to service and excellence to which we are called, as well as accountability to those we serve and to those who believe in our life-changing mission and support us through their generosity,” said Brown.

 According to leadership of Charity Navigator, only a quarter of rated charities have achieved the distinction of a four-star rating.

“Attaining a four-star rating verifies that Methodist Children’s Home exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in their area of work,” said Michael Thatcher, president and CEO of Charity Navigator. “This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets Methodist Children’s Home apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.”

Thatcher explained that donors today desire greater accountability, transparency and for concrete results from charity evaluators and “the intent of our work is to provide donors with essential information to give them greater confidence in both the charitable decisions that they make and the nonprofit sector.”

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

Friday, July 7, 2017

Summer Break Week 2017

Late June and early July is a time for youth at MCH to have fun and to participate in classic summer recreation activities. Summer break week at MCH is a time to add a period of extra flexibility to schedules in the middle of summer.

Classic activities our youth are able to participate in during break weeks include swimming, fishing, kayaking, hiking through Cameron Park, taking a stroll on Baylor’s campus, horseback riding, eating snow cones, and bowling. Youth are also introduced to new and creative activities such as slip-n-slide kickball, water sponge dodgeball and Larping – a type of interactive role-playing game in which the participants portray their own characters through physical action using props. All of these activities are brought to our kids by the MCH Recreation staff.

Summer break weeks are meant to be fun, engaging and energizing, preparing youth for another round of their normal summer programs. This week also provides a time for students to spend daily time off campus. Codi Stafford, recreation coordinator, stated that her favorite moment “is seeing the kids leave all their troubles behind when we go off campus and just have fun.”

It is the hope of MCH that youth are able to have experiences that they may not have been able to have at home. MCH wants youth to able to enjoy the joys of childhood during every season and forget about the challenges they face.

A highlight of the summer for Jr., a resident of MCH, is fishing and all that it entails.
“Worms are my favorite part of summer because they wiggle and because you can fish with them,” he said. “I love to fish because I don’t get to do it too much and because it is a chill adventure.”

Other young people shared that what they most looked forward to on summer breaks is getting to relax and have a stress-free schedule, as well as swimming and visiting a local water park.

“Swimming is my favorite,” said 13-year-old Christina. “I like to swim because you can just relax and do whatever you want in the water. I also look forward to going to water parks! I want to try the tall slide this year! I think I’m brave enough.” 

Aside from all the fun and games and possible thrills, summer break week serves as another great opportunity for MCH staff to continue to model and build trusting relationships with youth, keying in on a few of our core values, growth and relationships. For Stafford, “building trusting relationships with the students in a playful and safe way” is what she looks forward to most. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Two moms form special bond while fostering through MCH

Denise Davis and Bethany Falls lived in the same city, but their paths had never crossed before. Then in 2013, both women and their husbands embarked on an emotional journey to become foster parents through MCH Family Outreach in Tyler. 

They became acquainted in weekly trainings as they pursued licensing for foster care. Then both received placements within one week of each other of boys who were born only one day apart. Evan was placed with Falls and her husband, David. Jacob was placed with Davis and husband, Keith.

Evan’s case was a voluntary placement and the family thought he would go back to his mother after a few months. However, she relinquished her rights and they thought at that point he was theirs to adopt. Jacob came into Davis’s family with expectations that his case could turn into an adoption. But the roller coasters for both cases had just begun.

Evan’s biological father unexpectedly came into the picture when he was 1 year old, leading to visitations and court appearances. Even though their situations were unstable, Jacob’s biological mother and father each fought for custody which led to two separate jury trials. During the trials, the biological parents’ rights were terminated but then appeals and more legal issues followed. 

Throughout the journey, Falls and Davis grew closer as they were experiencing the same emotions and challenges.

“We were kind of thrown into it together but I am thankful for that,” Falls said. “I wouldn’t have been able to make it through as easily.”

 “It was a Godsend,” Davis said. “God knew I needed that friend that could identify and be there right beside me.”

The mothers would call each other in the emotional times of waiting in the car as the biological parent was having a visitation. Or sending a hopeful text as they knew the other was waiting for news. During the trials, the mothers leaned on each other for support as they waited to learn the fate of their family.

 “We could speak truth and speak scripture to each other when we need it most,” Falls said.
They also relied on each other for advice as they experienced new behaviors in the boys that their older children did not have.
“It felt like for the first time I didn’t know how to parent,” Davis said. “You have to parent so differently. Obviously, because you are a foster parent you also have to discipline differently. But their behaviors are so different and you have to figure out if it is a toddler thing or an emotional trauma issue? And you can feel isolated in that because your friends don’t understand the difference. You feel like an island on your own sometimes. We were able to talk about that.”

Both mothers’ journeys led to the adoption of the boys and their boys have now grown to be great friends. Looking back, the mothers are thankful to each other and for God’s role in their experience.
“I don’t know how people foster without being firm in their faith,” Falls said. “I can’t imagine going through this without God. To know that He has my back and is protecting these babies and knowing that no matter what the outcome, His Will will be done.”

“With Evan and Jacob, God chose them and plucked them out to give them a fresh start,” Davis said. “It is such an honor and a blessing. I’ve said to friends considering (fostering), it is going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but it is so rewarding. And I think as a family unit, it has been amazing to see my older kids know it is a ministry and see that they want to minister this child and get them through. They grow and the growth that comes from it, you are amazed by that.”

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Core Value Award for Service - Max and Lou Larseingue

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) 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

Max and Lou Larseingue, home parents at the MCH Boys Ranch, received the 2017 Core Award for Service at the all-staff meeting in March. The recipients of the Core Award for Service is someone who shows compassion through generosity and care.

Max and Lou exemplify the Core Award of Service through their dependability and willingness to always be the first to volunteer when extra help is needed on the Ranch.

They strive to create a family-like environment and enjoy planning and celebrating special events, birthdays and holidays with the boys. Their positive attitudes and willingness to go the extra mile, whether it is chaperoning hunting trips, teaching boys how to cook-out and grill, or getting certified to help at the Alpine Tower are just a few ways they are an example of service to their MCH peers and the Boys at the Ranch.

The Larseingues have helped build a good foundation in the Turner home and the positive work that is being done in that unit is largely in part to their ability to work as a team with their partner house parents and unit manager.

According to Meagan Molnar, unit manager at the Ranch, “The amount of love and grace they blend into their work every day is an inspiration to others and exemplifies their dedication to the Ranch.”

Laura Bonner, Boys Ranch administrator, said, “Not only do the Larseingues model service, but they also strive to instill a mission of service in the boys they work with through ranch chores and volunteer work within the community. We appreciate Max and Lou and are grateful for their service and commitment to MCH.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

MCH Awards 2017

Methodist Children’s Home celebrated student achievements for the 2016-17 school year during an awards ceremony on May 22 at the Johnson Student Center. During the ceremony, students from the MCH charter school, operated in partnership with the University of Texas – University Charter School system, were recognized for academic honors and extracurricular activities. Students received certificates, plaques, letter jackets and patches based on their individual achievements.

Below is a list of awards: 

Senior Awards
Relationship Award: Chrislynn, Sky, Xavier
Growth Award: Edwina, Joseph, Keondra, Jacob
Service Award: Iyahnna, Xavier
Hope Award: Diego, Ja’Vianne, Devin, Jakenzie
Responsibility Award: Tameka, Ja’Vianne, Athina, Zakaree
Courage Award: Kel, Tameka
The Charles W. and Mariam Hawes Academic Excellence Award (top seniors with highest GPAs):  Athina, Nick
Outstanding Senior Award: Stephen, Sky

Charter School Awards
Academic Honor Roll: Noah, Xaivier, Iona, Selena, Rainn, Jaelyne, Marisa, Galen, Dina, Stephen, Ladarian, Ladarrius, Athina, Soleana, Jakenzie, Arianna

Bulldog Pride:  Nikkie, Iona, Emily, Faith, Lucas, Selena, Dathan, Marisa, Galen, Dina, Quentrell, Kaitlyn, Stephen, Benjamin, Alexis, Athina, Soleana, Christina, Arianna

Art Awards: Edwina, Jaelyne, Daniel, Joshua 

(The Agricultural Proficiency Awards honor FFA members who, through their learning experiences, have developed specialized skills that they can apply toward their future careers)
Ag Mechanics Design and Fabrication: Nick
Ag Mechanical Repair and Maintenance: Galen
Diversified Livestock: Marisa
Vegetable Production: Jaelyne
Chapter Star Creed speaker: Rainn
Star Discovery Award: Danny
Star Greenhand Award: Chris
Chapter Star in Agriscience: Nick
Belt Buckles: Beef production – Kel; Swine production – Julio; Sheep production – Iona; Goat production - Selena

Recreation/Afterschool Programs
Choir/Vocal Performance: Most Improved - Luther, Kiayani; Most Outstanding - Layla, Iona
Drumline: Most Outstanding - Faith
Cheerleading: Most Improved - Tremya; Most Outstanding – Adrianna
Theatre: Benjamin, Nicole
Dance: Rainn, Marisa

Volleyball: Most Improved Player (MIP) - Soleana; Most Valuable Player (MVP) - Amashia
JV Football: MIP- Dathan; MVP - Dremon
Varsity Football: MIP - Reggie; MVP - Xaivier
Girls Basketball: MIP - Justine; MVP - Jamion
JV Boys Basketball: MIP - Johnathan; MVP - Dremon
Varsity Boys Basketball: MIP - Eli; MVP – Jakenzie
Girls Track: MIP – Alexis; MVP – Justine
Boys Track: MIP – Christian; MVP – SirDautrel
Golf: MIP – Dina; MVP - Emily
Bobby Gilliam Leadership through Athletics Award: Justine, Stephen

Congratulations to our students and staff on a successful school year!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Core Value Award for Relationships - Jo Ann Evans

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) 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

Jo Ann Evans, case manager for the MCH Family Outreach office in Abilene, received the 2017 Core Award for Relationships at the All-Staff meeting in March. The recipient for the Core Value Award for Relationships is someone who builds healthy relationships through communication, respect, trust, and love.

Jo Ann exemplifies this Core Value through the way she always strives to build trusting and meaningful relationships with everyone she encounters because she knows it is the foundation of what we do.

Jo Ann often goes above and beyond despite her busy schedule. Recently when a co-worker was having car troubles, she offered to drive them to and from visits as needed.

According to her supervisor Megan Harbin, Jo Ann didn’t hesitate to take on a larger case load and more parenting classes when the Abilene office experienced staff transition.

Jo Ann plays a significant role in training new Family Solutions case managers to ensure they understand the program and are 100 percent ready to start taking on cases of their own. This had resulted in many life-changing relationships being created.

Jo Ann is known by her peers as having a passion for the work she does and the families she serves.
Megan also stated, “It is truly a privilege and blessing to get to work alongside Jo Ann and have her as part of the Abilene team.”

Kelly Smith, administrator for the Western region of MCH Family Outreach, said, “Jo Ann understands the value of relationships and she facilitates coalitions and partnerships that help develop resources for both clients and team members. Her skills in this area are vital to the work we do at MCH.” 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

MCH Music Workshop 2017

A group of budding musicians at Methodist Children’s Home were able to get lessons and tips from some of Baylor’s best performers during the MCH Music Workshop on April 29. The workshop, which took place on the Waco campus, was set up by MCH recreation staff.

“This workshop is purposed to boost musical ability, confidence and stage presence, particularly for our students participating in choir, drumline and praise team,” said Jill Sims, recreation coordinator. “It is also designed to give the students a chance to interact with college students who are dedicated to their studies in music.”

MCH had 22 students participate in the workshop led by members of Baylor’s VirtuOSO acapella group, as well as undergraduate and graduate music students. Sims said the workshop was also meant to prepare the students for the upcoming “Collaborate Concert” on May 11 where students from choir, drumline, praise band, praise dance and the cheer team will perform as a group on the Waco campus.

“Collaborate is a concert that was birthed out of the idea of creating a space of community and support among the performing arts students at MCH,” Sims said. “Rather than have competition between the groups, we wanted to provide a space where the students could come together and create art built by the whole community.  At the beginning of the semester, songs were chosen and distributed among each of the groups.”

The workshop was organized into individual tracks for vocal, percussion and guitar. Each group met for three session to hone their skills. In the vocal track, students worked on vocal basics, harmony and blending, and stage presence and performance. Percussion students first focused on drums used in drumline, then were introduced to other percussion instruments such as cymbals, chimes, rain sticks and the triangle. In the third session they worked on their contribution to songs for the Collaborate concert. Guitar students first learned about basics in guitar, then moved to reading and playing with chord charts, followed by lessons on performance and worship leadership.

At the end of the sessions, the groups came together for closing “jam session” where teachers and students, totaling 29 people, performed their Collaborate concert songs together.

“The workshop was a tremendous success!” Sims said. “Students from all tracks were excitedly telling me throughout the day the things that they were learning in their classes. We were also able to open the workshop up to a limited number of students outside of our programs and these students asked to join our programs at the end of the workshop.”


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Empowered to Connect 2017

MCH Family Outreach in Waco brought together several members of the community for the Empowered to Connect conference simulcast April 7-8 at the Waco campus. The conference was hosted by The Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University and Show Hope, a nonprofit organization based in Franklin, Tenn.

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) has a partnership with the Purvis Institute in utilizing Trust-Based Relational Intervention techniques into its childcare practices. Show Hope is an international movement to care for orphans through adoption aid, care centers, adoption support and student initiatives. The two agencies joined together for the Empowered to Connect conference which is designed to give professionals and adoptive and foster parents insight into connecting better with children who have experienced emotional or physical trauma and help them to heal.

The conference was held in Tennessee, but many agencies, including MCH, hosted simulcasts in their communities. Around 40 people attended the MCH simulcast including foster and adoptive parents, social workers, school staff, counselors and local nonprofit case managers.

“We believe that the information provided in this training and other trauma-informed care trainings we offer at MCH have the power to offer hope and transformation to families,” said Brooke Davilla, director of MCH Family Outreach in Waco. “We desire for everyone who is a caregiver or works with children to be exposed to this information and be equipped with practical tools which can assist them in their different roles with children.”

The two-day conference provided presentations to explain the effects of trauma on the brain, how to form healing connections, helping improve behavior, and other helpful trainings.

“One of the biggest impacts is to witness the relief and understanding that washes over caregivers when they hear the effects of trauma on children and adults,” Davilla said. “Many of our caregivers feel at a loss or don’t know how to explain what they are experiencing with their children, so when they hear they are not alone and that there is hope for healing, it is transformative.

“Overall, we think it was a huge success,” she continued. “We hope to continue to offer opportunities such as this in the future for our community.”

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Core Value Award for Christian Principles - Alicia Carter

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) 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

Alicia Carter, director of the MCH Family Outreach office in Albuquerque, received the 2017 Core Award for Christian Principles at the all-staff meeting in March. The recipient for the Core Award for Christian Principles is someone who applies the principles of the Christian faith which serve as the foundation for this ministry.

Carter embodies the Core Value of Christian Principles through her active and solid relationship with Jesus Christ and how her faith intentionally affects her work and relationships.

In her work, Carter is known to measure her work and decisions against God’s Word and uses examples from the Word to encourage and teach the team.

Carter also pushes others to see past the petty things of the world and see the real reason why we do what we do.

Carter is quick to realize when she has made a mistake and asks for forgiveness. And she is someone who others can truly look up to and visibly see the Lord at work in and through her.

According to Albuquerque case manager Allisya Otto, “Alicia not only serves as leader and offers encouragement, but is also a sounding board. The hope starts with us to overflow to communities and MCH as a whole. We are the hands and feet of hope given freely, like Christ, and it all starts with our director, Alicia Carter.”

Kristal Hansen, also a case manager in Albuquerque, said Alicia exemplifies the Core Value of Christian Principles because “she is empathetic and at the same time a strong leader through love, grace and empowerment of her employees. Simply put, to me, she acts like Jesus would.”

Kelly Smith, administrator for the Western region of MCH Family Outreach, said Alicia lives and works the principles of her faith. She believes her work and work of MCH is a mission, and shares her gifts unselfishly.

Monday, April 17, 2017

MCH Family Outreach offices advocate for Child Abuse Prevention

Corpus Christi partnered with several other local agencies
for its pinwheel garden.
MCH Family Outreach in Abilene, Dallas and Corpus Christi partnered with other local nonprofits in planting pinwheel gardens to raise awareness for child abuse prevention. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the gardens serve as a reminder to the community to take a stand against child abuse and show support for local agencies serving children.

This year, MCH Family Outreach in Abilene partnered with McMurry University for their garden, while the Dallas office partnered with First United Methodist Church of Sherman whose children will help plant the garden late in the month. MCH Family Outreach in Corpus Christi teamed up with multiple agencies including the Education Service Center – Region 2, HOPES program (Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support), BCFS-Health and Human Services, and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for the awareness campaign. Their garden is located at the CASA building.

“I am excited about this year’s growth in sponsorship,” said Marisol Gomez, director of MCH Family Outreach in Corpus Christi. “We have more agencies that offer prevention services coming together to share with the community all that we do. The more we can make the community aware of our services and show that help is within reach, the more hope we can offer to a family in need,” Gomez said.

The gardens are part of an initiative called Pinwheels for Prevention that began in 2008 by Prevent Child Abuse America, a national organization who work to prevent abuse and neglect of our nation’s children. The pinwheel is the national symbol for child abuse prevention, signifying the “happy childhoods all children deserve.”

MCH Family Outreach supports children and families through early intervention and family preservation services including programs for in-home case management, parent education, and support for grandparents raising their grandchildren. MCH now serves 13 communities through our outreach offices.

Corpus staff helped plant the pinwheels.

MCH Family Outreach in Abilene partnered with McMurry University.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Supporting our employees

As part of Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) strategic plan, the Human Resource department has been charged with focusing on employee recruitment and retention and look for ways to improve agency practices.

As part of the plan, the Human Resources department is researching best practices and evaluating the agency’s methods, strategies and processes in an effort to expand recruitment outreach, empower new employee engagement and support supervisors as they build their teams.

The department has significantly evolved since 1992 when Judy Broadway, vice president for human resources and Mary Rollins, employee compliance manager were members of what was called, The Personnel Department.

“When I came to MCH we employed approximately 100 people,” said Broadway. “Today we employ more than 360 staff in various roles throughout Texas and New Mexico.”

In recent years, the department has added staff members Karina Valencia, employee recruiter; Anita Tovar, administrative services associate; Miranda Pena, employee benefits manager; and Jean Wright, strategic recruitment manager.

Wright’s position will focus in part on developing strategies to recruit and retain employees that reflect MCH’s service population and communities, a goal in the current strategic plan.

“I think the addition of this position demonstrates the agency’s commitment to progress and improvement,” said Wright. “I consider this an opportunity to invest in the future of our employees and indirectly impact the children, youth and families we serve.”

Through agency efforts like these, employees also have the opportunities to grow and reach their potential by participating in higher education opportunities and through their meaningful work every day. The department is currently seeking feedback from employees to find ways to strengthen their effort toward these goals.

“I feel blessed to have been a part of this ministry for 25 years and witness the wonderful growth in service to our youth and families,” added Broadway.

Monday, April 3, 2017

MCH students get high marks at district competition

Hard work paid off for Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) students who performed in the Texas Christian Athletic Fellowship (TCAF) competition in March. The students prepared their performances for months and received high scores for their efforts. MCH students competed in choir, drumline, dance, drama, and cheer.

“We like to participate in events like this because it allows the students to work toward achieving a goal,” said Jill Sims, recreation coordinator and choir instructor. “Also, it shows them the benefit of hard work and dedication, gives them a broader worldview as they travel and connect with students from other parts of Texas, and prepares them professionally as they gain public and interpersonal communication skills through professional connections.

“Events like this also give the students a positive view of themselves and each other as they realize that they can not only achieve their dreams, but can collaborate with others as a team to invest in something that they will remember for a lifetime,” Sims said.
The choir and drumline received an Excellent rating while two vocal soloists received Superior ratings and advanced to the finals. One of the soloists received a perfect score and several middle school students were able to receive high marks competing at the high school level. Here are the results:

Group Performance – Excellence Rating (Plaque)
Vocal Solos:
Nikki – Superior Medal (Received a perfect score), Advanced to Finals
Tianna – Superior Medal (1 point from receiving a perfect score), Advanced to Finals
Kiayani – Excellence Ribbon
Shelby – Excellence Ribbon
Layla – Good Ribbon
Leah – Good Ribbon
Iona – Good Ribbon
Faith – Good Ribbon

Ensemble – Excellence Ribbon
Drumline Solos:
Faith – Good Ribbon
Rebecca – Good Ribbon

Dance Solos:
Rainn – Good Ribbon
Marisa – Good Ribbon

Ben – Superior Medal (3 points from receiving a perfect score)
Nikki – Excellence Ribbon

Earned two plaques in the Exhibition category
Varsity members – Iyhanna, Tremya, Nikkie, Edwina, Adrianna
JV members – Christina, Gabi, Kiayani, Rebecca

The students were led by Sims (choir), recreation assistant Matt Hagestuen (drumline, drama), and recreation assistant Kellie Bennett (dance, cheer). Students practiced their entries by performing for staff and students during a concert on May 24. 

“The kids felt accomplished and had a sense of belonging as they worked together to achieve their goals,” Sims said. “As I met with students individually to discuss their scores after the competition, they expressed their sense of accomplishment as well as noted and asked if we could work on areas of improvement for next year.” 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spiritual Development Weekend 2017

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) youth spent the weekend learning more about Christ and were invited to ask difficult questions related to forgiveness and their own faith journey during Spiritual Development Weekend. Kimberly Clark, director of spiritual development, and her team led the activities that focus on spiritual growth.

The weekend started with a Friday evening concert where Christian artists recruited by Pastors Ahmad Washington and Colin Campbell came to the Waco campus to perform. This year, MCH welcomed Bus Seven, Capital G, Jeremy Beggs and MxC for the concert. On Saturday, the day began with a worship service with guest speaker Apostle T followed by a senior lunch. Sunday morning concluded the weekend with a closing worship service in the chapel.

Clark said they want to show the youth different artists and speakers who use their talents to glorify God.

“The Bible contains stories of God’s interactions with His people throughout history but those interactions aren’t just contained to a book,” she said. “God continues to interact and work in and through His people now, and we want our students to be exposed to others outside of the agency who are willing to share how God has moved and breathed into their lives.

“We like to expose our residential students to faithful people in Waco and surrounding areas,” she said. “It allows them to connect with the greater Christian community, gives them fresh faces and voices to receive from, and hopefully encourages them to continue to find places to worship once they leave our care."

The theme of the weekend was “forgiveness,” and the story of David was central to the focus of the entire weekend and as youth looked at Scripture to see examples of God’s mercy, grace and forgiveness.

Clark said this theme brought up many questions from the youth such as: How do you forgive someone that has hurt you so deeply? How do you regain trust after forgiveness is given? Why did God choose to forgive me? Can you forgive when you can’t forget?

“This weekend was a great example of the opportunity this ministry gives us to share the good news with our young people,” said Trey Oakley, vice president for development. “We do so in a safe environment where we don’t shy away from tough questions.

“Since our ministers’ focus is on helping build authentic relationships with God and in our community, we don’t have to conjur up easy or quick fix answers,” Oakley continued. “Sometimes we can say ‘I don’t know but let’s trust God to heal, comfort and seek answers together.’ That’s an amazing thing we get to do for all those we serve throughout Texas and New Mexico.”

MCH has hosted spiritually-focused weekends for almost 20 years, formerly called ReCreation Weekend and RARE event. These weekends continue to be a time for MCH youth to dialog about and grow in their faith.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Houston case manager speaks on serving grandparents during local conference

Nicole Washington, case manager at MCH Family Outreach in Houston, shared her experience in working with grandparents at a recent convention in Stafford, Texas. The Children’s Case Management Coalition (CCMC) hosted its 8th annual conference on February 24 at the Stafford Centre.

Washington was invited to speak at the conference after meeting several coalition members during an interagency meeting. The CCMC is “a collaborative group of case management providers in Houston and surrounding counties, who are invested in the special needs and issues of children and their families.” Every year the coalition hosts a conference for the community where social workers, nurses, nutritionists, parents and other professionals learn more about issues and services available for families and children.

Washington presented to the group to provide insight on what grandparents feel, think and struggle with when they are called to care for their grandchildren.

“Over the past seven years I have worked with grandparents in the Grandparents As Parents Program (GAPP) and one thing remains consistent – they give all they have while caring for their grandchildren,” Washington said. “They know it comes with a price, themselves, and they have no problem giving their all. However, the entire family suffers when the price depletes the one who holds it all together. I constantly remind my clients, ‘if you don’t take care of yourself then you are not taking care of the kids. You are your best advocate, so care and advocate for yourself.’”

Around 150 people attended the event to hear about topics related to the conference theme “Trauma-Informed Care: Recognizing and Responding to the Effects of Trauma in the Family.” Washington said the experience of presenting to her peers was enlightening, and she enjoyed speaking up for grandparents. 

“I love my GAPP grandparents,” Washington said. “They truly inspire me. I am so honored to work with them.”

Friday, March 3, 2017

MCH students surprised during field trip to McLane Stadium

MCH students surprised during field trip to McLane Stadium
Some special visitors joined a group of Methodist Children’s Home charter school students during a tour of McLane Stadium, home to the Baylor Bears football team. On March 1, five Baylor players surprised the middle schoolers and helped to give them a field trip they will not soon forget.

The group of students were from Mr. Zachary Byrd’s Core class. Byrd, the middle school social studies teacher at the charter school, said one of his objectives in his class is to teach the children leadership and positive peer interaction.

“A lot of my kids in the class are big sports fans,” Byrd said. “I wanted them to have the opportunity to interact with some of their heroes and see the stadium. I emphasize to the kids that there are a lot of jobs involved with sports and you don’t have to be a great athlete to have a career in sports or athletics. I think them seeing the stadium showed them some of the career opportunities involving athletics.”

Byrd coordinated with Baylor athletics to surprise the students. At the beginning of the tour five players, Wyatt Schrepfer (running back), Josh Malin (tight end), Will Jones (defensive tackle), Clint Kelly (long snapper), and Chris Lutzel (long snapper) along with Associate Director of Football Operations Ryan Kelly filed into the stadium.

During the tour, the group was taken through the press box, president’s suite, recruit lounge, post-game interview room, locker room and football field. The players spent their time talking with the students, signed autographs, and even tossed around the football and kicked field goals with the students on the field. 

“Seeing the kids interact with the players absolutely made my day,” Byrd said. “Their positive interaction with them was amazing. The kids’ smiles and comments afterward were awesome."


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

MCH joins other childcare agencies at State Capitol

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) joined representatives from other childcare agencies across Texas at the State Capitol in Austin on Feb. 1 for the awareness event “Never Alone Star State – Advocating for Children in Foster Care” sponsored by the Texas Alliance for Child and Family Services (TACFS).

“The alliance put together the event as an opportunity to unite together to advocate for children in foster care in Texas and encourage legislators to make these children a priority this legislative session,” said Kelly Lawson, special gifts coordinator for MCH who helped coordinate the event on behalf of MCH.
According to its website, the mission of TACFS is to strengthen services to children and families through quality care and advocacy. The alliance is made up of agencies that focus primarily on working with children and families who are at-risk, children who have experienced abuse and neglect and families dealing with low income, loss of jobs, domestic violence, and other issues.

Tim Brown, President/CEO of Methodist Children’s Home, also serves on the Board of Directors for TACFS. He said MCH felt it was important to participate in the awareness event due to the potential for wholesale changes to the Child Welfare Regulatory and Services system in Texas.

“Many of the changes being proposed are positive, but there are others that may impact agencies in unanticipated ways, agencies such as MCH who also serve children placed privately by their own families and caregivers,” Brown explained. “We felt like we could add balance to the proposed solutions by bringing a wider view to the discussions.”

Brown, along with several other agency leaders, was recognized at the Texas Senate during the session by Senator Charles “Carlos” Uresti of Senate District 19. Uresti serves as vice chair for the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services and is an advocate for the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

Uresti sponsored the conference portion of the event which also included breakfast, presentations and speakers throughout the day, including remarks from Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott. Agencies participating also spent the afternoon making legislative visits. 

MCH is accredited through COA, accepts placements and referrals from TDFPS and is licensed and regulated by the department. Brown pointed out that MCH holds an excellent record of compliance and safety for those in our care.

 “We wanted the opportunity to participate in the dialogue and support positive and necessary change without further encumbering providers with additional changes or regulations unnecessarily,” he said.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

McLennan County Junior Livestock Show 2017

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) FFA students had a record year at the 2017 McLennan County Junior Livestock Show with five animals making it into the sale. The Ag Mechanics team consisting of 17 students also won second place in sweepstakes.

The FFA chapter is part of the charter school at MCH operated in partnership with the University of Texas–University Charter School system. Every year, students in the agriculture classes learn to care for livestock and show them at local events. This year MCH had 23 students compete in the McLennan County show.

Here are the results:

Steers: Nick – 4th (sale), Galen – 5th (sale), Josh – 6th, Kel – 8th; also participated – Jacob

Swine: Julio – 5th (sale), Noah – 6th (sale); also participated – Chris, Lester, Danny, Yacci, Alex

Goats: Selena – 2nd (sale); also participated – Edwina, Ladarius, Tameka

Sheep: Marisa – 3rd, Iona – 4th, Jaylen – 2nd; also participated – KK, Rainn, Akia, Gail

Ag Mechanics Show: Gates (Lester and Jacob) – 3rd, Wooden salt feeder (KK, Akia, Selena) – 2nd, Headache rack (Alex) – 1st, Towable barbeque (Nick, Galen, Josh) – 2nd, Cedar coffee table (Danny) – 2nd, Cedar chest (Marisa) – 1st, Cedar table (Ag classes) – 2nd, Quail house (Rainn, Jaylen, Tameka) – 2nd, also entered – BBQ (Galen) and Fire pit (Noah, Kel); Shop light (Galen) – 1st and Reserve Division Champion, Turtle trap (Nick, Galen, Kel) – 2nd and Reserve Division Champion, Indoor lamp (KK, Akia, Selena) – 1st and Division Champion; Team received Second in Sweepstakes

Click here to view a photo gallery of the event.

Congratulations to all our students on their hard work!