Friday, December 15, 2017

Core Value Award for Relationships- Joshua DeLeon

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

Joshua DeLeon, youth care counselor, received the 2017 Core Award for Relationships at the fall all-staff meeting. The recipient of the Core Award for Relationships is someone who builds healthy relationships through communication, respect, trust, and love.

 According to his nomination, DeLeon embodies the Core Value of Relationships by the way he goes above and beyond when it comes to the challenging work of building trusting relationships with our youth. DeLeon has a natural way of creating a relational foundation of love, respect, patience, and trust. He also shows a high level of love and compassion in his work.

Those who work with DeLeon say that he seems to have an innate understanding of the potential for healing and transformation in these relationships. He naturally prioritizes his connections with students and is able to establish things like felt safety and trust where others may not be able to. DeLeon is known as someone who is always willing to do more, even coming in on days off if it means helping out a student in need.

Austin Brown, clinical therapist, said, “It is easy to see the depth of genuine love Josh has for our kids and his commitment to being an agent of change and healing in their lives.”

Friday, December 8, 2017

Core Value Award for Service- Rhonda Anderson

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

Rhonda Anderson, youth care counselor supervisor, received the 2017 Core Award for Service at the fall all-staff meeting. The recipients of the Core Award for Service is someone who shows compassion through generosity and care.

According to her nomination, Anderson demonstrates the Core Value of Service in the way she role-models generosity to others. She demonstrates commitment through her helping attitude and she is quick to lend a hand to youth and staff who seek her out, even in the midst of “challenging” days.

Anderson has served in several positions during her long tenure at MCH and her service to MCH is valued in many ways. She is exceptional at empowering, training and supervising staff at numerous home units across campus. She is dependable and readily addresses any staff issues that may arise, providing direct feedback that will improve performance. Anderson is always readily available when she is on duty and her work ethic offers a warm welcome to students and staff that may want to come in and visit with her.

According to Unit Manager Elizabeth Goss, “When I ask Rhonda for help with tasks that may seem unbearable or overwhelming to others, Rhonda consistently responds with a positive attitude and ensures the task is complete in a timely manner with no concerns. She is willing to work when needed and has worked extra days to provide coverage across campus when needed.”

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Ag Showmanship Contest 2017

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) students involved in agricultural sciences presented their livestock in front of staff and peers during the Ag Showmanship Contest on Wednesday, Nov. 29. The annual contest provides the middle and high school students at the MCH charter school an opportunity to utilize the skills they have learned this semester. Many also present during local junior livestock shows during the school year.

The contest took place in the horse pavilion at the MCH Boys Ranch. Ag teacher Steve Kruse began organizing the annual contest four years ago.

“I started the contest to give the students another opportunity to show and allow the home parents, staff and students not in Ag to see what it is all about,” Kruse said. “I want the kids to learn more about how to exhibit their project to its fullest potential because everyone knows practice makes perfect.”

Buckles were awarded to four MCH students for their work with an animal project: Galen – steer; Jaelyne – lamb; Jackson – goat; and Noah – swine.  

Ronald Morgan was the guest judge for the contest. Morgan is a retired ag teacher and owner of Morgan Livestock. He taught ag for 28 years and has been exhibiting livestock for more than 40 years. The ring steward was Keeli Twaney, a former Robinson FFA student who has experience showing every species of livestock. Twaney’s mother, Buffy Nehring, a supporter of the MCH FFA program, also assisted with the event.

Click here for a photo gallery of the contest.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Core Value Award for Hope- Shawn Powell

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

Shawn Powell, admissions secretary, received the 2017 Core Award for Hope at the fall 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, Powell embodies the Core Value of Hope in the way she cares for the families who come through the admissions process at MCH. Some families who call are often frustrated, angry or weary as they are in need of immediate assistance. Her dedication to helping these families navigate the admissions process is always done with genuine care, compassion and hopefulness. Powell has an innate ability to connect with families during the initial phone call due to her calming and gentle demeanor as she collects often delicate information about youth behavior.

Powell also develops relationships with youth once they are placed in our care. Oftentimes youth who come for interviews ask to come back to visit her once they are in placement.

Recently, she connected with a family in Houston who had been displaced by the Hurricane Harvey. Hearing the fear and desperation in their voices, Powell was able to bring hope to the situation by compassionately speaking with them and keeping them updated about the admissions process.

According to Julie Spiech, associate program administrator for the Waco campus, “Shawn never hesitates to meet families ‘where they are’ emotionally in order to make them feel welcomed and comfortable. The hope she brings to the process is invaluable beyond measure.”

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Core Value Award for Responsibility - Susan Beatty

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

Susan Beatty, director of database operations in Development, received the 2017 Core Award for Responsibility at the all-staff meeting this fall. The recipient of the Core Award for Responsibility is someone who is accountable for self and others.

According to her nomination, Beatty models the Core Value of Responsibility by always being accountable for her work and the work of her team. In her position, Susan is responsible for making sure that donor records are accurate and up-to-date, which requires her to be thorough, efficient and organized. Even during the busiest time of year, Susan and her team do a great job of staying on top of gift and donor information to make sure it is readily available when needed.

On top of her day-to-day duties, Beatty is the go-to person in Development who takes care of any needs in the building, whether it is submission of work orders, leading emergency drills, or maintaining office supplies. She is quick to offer a helping hand to any of her coworkers. With her welcoming attitude of service, Beatty warmly greets any visitors coming to Perkins and enjoys giving tours or assisting alumni and their relatives in search of photographs in old Sunshine magazines.

According to her coworkers, “Susan has a cheerful and kind spirit that makes her a joy to work with every day. She is diligent, friendly and encouraging. Susan will ask for your opinion when it comes to gifts or any other job duty that includes the entire office. She is a very giving person and very passionate about her job.”

Friday, November 17, 2017

Core Value Award for Relationships- Lakesha Chavis

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

Lakesha Chavis, youth care counselor, received the 2017 Core Award for Relationships at the fall all-staff meeting. The recipient of the Core Award for Relationships is someone who builds healthy relationships through communication, respect, trust and love.

According to her nomination, Chavis exemplifies the core value of Relationships through the connections she works hard to build with the youth. She calls the young men in her home unit to a high standard of respect for themselves and each other. The staff respect her ability to connect and build relationships with those youth who are hard to reach.

Additionally, youth from other homes units often seek her out because of the relationships she builds during after-school activities, Camp Rise Up and other events.

Morgan Lyons, unit manager at the Williams Home, said, “Ms. Lakesha is a very quiet lady and that has been a blessing to the Williams Home. Often the boys are loud and rambunctious but she shows them how to sit and have a quality conversation. Because of this, boys open up to her and tell her things that they might not be comfortable sharing with someone else.”

Jason Jackson, lead YCC at the home unit, said Chavis has an individual relationship with every child in the unit, and various youth all over campus. She is highly concerned for the well-being of the staff, as well, and works hard at the home to establish and build trusting relationships with the youth and the staff.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Making it official

Azelle, a Belton resident, raised five children as a single mother. When her youngest daughter had a child at the age of 16, Azelle didn’t hesitate to help and began caring for her granddaughter from the day she was born. Ultimately, Azelle’s daughter decided she wasn’t ready to be a mother and left the house leaving the baby in her care.

That baby, Jasiah, who is now 15, is still in her grandmother’s care and the two have formed a close relationship. But Azelle said raising children this time around has been a bit more challenging.

“I can’t keep up with her,” she said.

She gets support from her oldest daughter and her three younger children in caring for her granddaughter. But Azelle was excited to discover MCH Family Outreach during a local resource fair for seniors. She began working with Killeen outreach staff who helped her manage her fixed income by connecting her to food pantries, and giving her some support in dealing with her challenges in the home.

During the services, Azelle told Violet Read, director of MCH Family Outreach in Killeen, about her desire to adopt Jasiah. Although she had legal custody of her, she wanted to make it official and give them a “sense of belonging.”

Read went to work and started helping her through the process, researching lawyers in the area. After discovering the costs of adoption were beyond Azelle’s budget, Read and Azelle were both becoming discouraged. However, things began to turn around when they found a local lawyer with experience doing adoptions.

“After hearing her story, he ended up quoting half the price that we had been quoted,” Read said. “She was in tears. I was almost in tears and I don’t cry very easily! But it was a pretty special moment.”

“They have been a blessing to us,” Azelle said. “The program is amazing. It opens doors everywhere. Violet was always on top of it.”

Jasiah’s adoption became official on August 23. This fall, the family also decided to transfer Jasiah into homeschool. MCH case manager Sara Elliot has been helping them with the process. The family is entering a new chapter in their life and feels thankful for the support they have received from MCH Family Outreach.

“This program, I have recommended to – and I kid you not – to at least 20-30 people at church and people I know,” Azelle said. “I know a lot of grandparents who could really just use the helping hand. I know some who just don’t know what to do, where to go, or how to deal with things. This has been an amazing journey. And we’re still on it.” 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Methodist Children’s Home sends Commissioners out with purpose

In 1940, Hubert Johnson, president of Methodist Children’s Home from 1933-1966, established a group of clergy and lay members called Commissioners. These individuals would act as volunteer fundraisers and advocates for MCH. Through the past 77 years the activities and responsibilities of Commissioners have changed, but they continue to serve and play an important role in sharing the MCH story.

The primary role of the Commissioner now can be seen through the acronym HOPE:

Help MCH fulfill its mission through gifts of time, talents and treasure.
Organize a special event for MCH at their church or in their community.
Provide insight on ways MCH can partner with them to serve at-risk families in their community.
Enlist others as benefactors and friends to support the mission of MCH.

It has been a long standing tradition for MCH to hold a two-day Commissioners meeting in Waco, Texas. On Oct. 24-25, MCH Commissioners from across Texas and New Mexico, representing six different United Methodist Conferences, gathered for a time of fellowship and learning to be further equipped to advocate for MCH.

During the two-day meeting on the Boys Ranch and Waco residential campus, Commissioners had a full schedule of events on their agenda.

On the first evening, they shared a meal with the 2017 MCH Choir and several Boys Ranch residents. They were treated to a choral performance and a student testimony on how MCH has impacted them. The Commissioners also heard from Tim Brown, president and CEO of MCH, Trey Oakley, vice president for development at MCH, Mark Ward, Commissioner chairperson, and other members of the MCH Benefactor Relations team.

The second day of the meeting provided time for breakout sessions with Residential Care, Transition Services, MCH Family Outreach and Spiritual Development. As part of understanding the vision and direction for MCH, Commissioners were invited to tour the Daniels Home, the newest residential home on the Waco campus, and to receive detailed information about the “Building Hope” capital campaign and the projected growth and projects that are in plan for the ministry.

Kelly Lawson, special gifts coordinator for MCH who directed the two-day meeting, saw the different sessions as a highlight of the time shared with the Commissioners. Lawson said that each group discussion was opportunity for Commissioners to connect with different parts of MCH to get an in-depth and realistic understanding of what life looks like for those MCH serves every day.

Further, Lawson stated the breakout speaking sessions gave Commissioners a time to interact with one another and to share about their own ideas and experiences regarding how they are able to intentionally spread the news about MCH in their own communities.

To conclude the meeting, MCH conducted its first commissioning service in the Chapel. There, 28 veteran Commissioners and 21 new Commissioners received and accepted the call to action to commit themselves to the MCH Commissioner statement of HOPE.

“Ending on this note felt very special,” said Lawson. “We have the opportunity to bear witness to God’s work in the world through this ministry in one small way. The Commissioners came, they learned, they were inspired, and now they are sent forth into their communities to do essential work. It is sacred work.”

Echoing Lawson’s message, Oakley stated, “Commissioners are a piece of our legacy and will remain important advocates for our ministry. We are grateful for the support and awareness they raise throughout Texas and New Mexico.”

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Waco family overcomes challenges with help from MCH Family Outreach

Last year, Tina began to experience medical issues that caused her to be in and out of work. With her income becoming inconsistent, the mother of 11-year-old Jaleigh began to worry as she fell behind on bills. With rent coming up, she turned to a local church for help and was referred to MCH Family Outreach.

Tina and Jaleigh were connected with Waco case manager Ana Chatham in December 2016 to participate in the Family Solutions program. Through the program, families meet weekly with a case manager for three months to assess their needs, determine goals and develop a plan to meet those goals. Tina and Chatham talked about her financial and family needs and came up with strategies to get her back on her feet.

“Getting to talk to somebody about my issues that wasn’t biased, just having somebody to listen helped,” Tina said. “She offered encouragement and gave us tips on what to do.”

Chatham helped Tina get connected to local nonprofits in the area to help her with food and save some money. She also met with a financial coach who helped Tina develop a budget. Tina was working with a local agency to become a home owner when her ailing aunt passed away and left her home to Tina and Jaleigh. She took over the mortgage payments and the pair was able to move into their new home.

Their case was closed about a month earlier than usual due to Tina’s success. Tina’s health is improving and she was able to return to work in September.

“I had to learn because I’m a very prideful person that if you can just let your pride down a little bit and be open to the program, it is very resourceful,” Tina said. “If you need help, it’s available. As long as you are using it to help you progress and not just get there and get comfortable.”
Chatham said that she enjoyed working with Tina and Jaleigh and said the mother and daughter have a great relationship.

“They are as sweet as can be,” Chatham said. “They were a joy to get to know and they are full of life. Ms. Tina is hard-working and health issues is just not something you can control. We were happy to step in and help and provide assistance for that that time period so she could get back on her feet. And she was able to do that.”

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo 2017

Methodist Children’s Home had a large group of students representing the Ag program this year during the Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo in Waco, Texas. Thirty-four students from the charter school, operated in partnership with University of Texas-University Charter School system, prepared and showed animals during the junior livestock show.

These students began working with their animals at the start of the school year in August. Many of the students were showing animals for the first time.

“I tell the kids that it is hard to show at the Heart O’ Texas first because it is such a big show,” said Steve Kruse, ag teacher. “The animals are just as scared as the students thus it is a learning experience for everyone. Go out there, watch the judge, listen to what the judge says about your project, but most of all, have fun and you’re a winner for being there.”

Results are listed below:

Steers: Limousin – Galen (3rd place); Shorthorn – Chris (4th); AOB – Iona (6th); Maine – Marisa (7th)

Swine: BOPB – Julio (4th), Samaya (5th); Duroc – Roger (2nd), Kiayani (3rd), Danny (5th), Blake (8th); Yorkshire – Bryce (7th), Adam (8th), Ladarius (8th), Landon (11th); Cross – Phillip (7th), Sam (9th); Hampshire – Noah (8th)

Goats:  Dustin – 6th, Jackson – 8th, Lucas – 11th, Triston – 12th, Camray – 14th

Sheep:  Hair sheep – Layla (10th), Faith (11th), Duane (14th); Medium wool – Jaelyne (12th); Southdown – Niki (8th), Christina (9th), Juliana (10th), Adrianna (12th), Brittney, Dathan, Sai; FWX – D’nayja

Creative Arts projects: Gabe – 1st; Keyon – 1st; Tristen – 1st; Mikey – 4th; Jose – 5th

The Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo took place from Oct. 4-13 at Extraco Events Center in Waco. Several other local schools also competed in the junior livestock show. Congratulations to all our kids who participated in this show!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

MCH Golf Classic 2017

Twenty-two teams competed in the 2017 MCH Golf Classic on Oct. 13 to support the ministry of Methodist Children’s Home (MCH). The annual fundraiser was held at Twin Rivers Golf Club in Waco.

The winning team of Chris Goss, Chase Chapman, Stormy Reeves and Cliff Thorman took home trophies and Titleist golf bags as their prize. Other prizes included Titleist Pro V1 golf balls and an assortment of prize drawings including tickets to Baylor athletic events donated by Baylor IMG, a gift bag donated by Baylor golf, and several restaurant gift cards. The MCH Boys Ranch also donated several student-made items such as a cedar chest, light stand, wind chimes and fire pit. Sykora Family Ford also sponsored the hole-in-one contest on the course.

MCH is thankful for all our sponsors who supported us this year: Gold sponsors – Insurors of Texas, Magnolia Foundation, John W. Erwin General Contractor; Silver sponsor – State Farm Insurance, Mike McKenzie; Bronze sponsors – Naman, Smith, Howell and Lee, Dubois Furniture, Mark Olinger, First Baptist Woodway, and Honey’s Roofing; and several hole and other sponsors.

Integ provided signage, banners and player gifts for the tournament. Drinks on the course were provided by Coca-Cola. Players were treated to dinner after their round provided by Rudy’s BBQ with drinks and dessert by McAlister’s Deli.

“We are grateful for the support of each corporate sponsor and individual that made the MCH Golf Classic a success,” said Kelly Lawson, special gifts coordinator at MCH. “Not only did we have fun out on the golf course, more importantly, the MCH Golf Classic was an opportunity to support the incredibly important and life-changing work of Methodist Children’s Home. It was a special honor to have three students from MCH participate in the tournament this year.”

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Methodist Children’s Home receives Gold Seal from Guidestar

Methodist Children’s Home recently received the Gold Seal of Transparency designation from Guidestar, the world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations.

More than 8 million visitors visit each year to find information on nonprofit organizations for the purpose of research, community collaboration and charitable giving. Less than 1 percent of nonprofits listed on Guidestar have achieved the Gold level, noted Tim Brown, president and CEO of Methodist Children’s Home.

“Receiving the gold level designation from Guidestar speaks to the commitment we carry to conduct our work with the utmost integrity and transparency,” Brown said. “It reflects the commitment to excellence found in our staff, executive leadership and board of directors. Most importantly, it shines a light on the difference we are making in the lives of thousands of children, youth and families across Texas and New Mexico.”

Earlier this year, Methodist Children’s Home received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the highest rating available from the nation’s largest independent charity evaluator.

“It is important for our community members and potential donors to find in-depth information about our goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress,” Brown said. “Carrying a four-star rating from Charity Navigator and the Gold Seal of Transparency from Guidestar gives the public the assurance of our commitment to integrity and best practices.”

Monday, October 2, 2017

MCH Family Outreach in Tyler teams up with other agencies for annual conference

Brooke Davilla, director of MCH Family Outreach in Waco
gave two presentations during the Tyler conference.
Five staff members from MCH Family Outreach shared their expertise during presentations at the annual East Texas Network for Children training conference on Sept. 11-12. Around 300 people attended the conference held at Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Tyler, including social workers, mental health professionals, CPS personnel, probation officers, foster parents, and other direct care staff in the industry who serve children and families.

Aaron Williams, director of MCH Family Outreach in Tyler, spoke on “The Enduring Race: Dealing with Oppositional Children and Teens in Foster Care.” Three Tyler case managers, Kristy George, Niya Brown and Suzy King, presented as a group on “Foster Care Normalcy Training.” Brooke Davilla, director of MCH Family Outreach in Waco, gave two presentations, “The Caregiver Triad: It Takes All Three” and “Trauma Wise Care: Realizing, Recognizing and Responding to the Effects of Trauma.” Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) also served as a sponsor for the conference.

“It’s important for us as an agency to connect and network with other agencies doing similar things,” said Williams. “These conferences are a good way to connect and network and with our presentations, it is good to see that MCH is leading through instructing and bringing legitimate material to the table.”

Williams has been involved in the ETNC conferences for several years and this year was his second in a row to present. The theme of this year’s conference, organized by ETNC board members, was “Racing Toward a Better Future.” ETNC was established 30 years ago when representatives of East Texas public and private agencies got together to discuss strategies for improving client services and communication. The network now provides annual, low cost training to professionals each year in the region and surrounding areas.

Aaron Williams, director of MCH Family Outreach
in Tyler, spoke about oppositional children.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

New growth and vision for the 2017 MCH Praise Team

As a way to have more youth involvement with the spiritual programming at Methodist Children’s Home (MCH), the Spiritual Development team recently held auditions for the MCH Praise Team. More than 35 students auditioned for the roles, the most MCH has had in more than 13 years. 

Open positions included instrumentals, tech, spoken word/rap/poetry, dramatic scripture reading, vocals, dance, and worship choir. The wealth of talent at MCH is so great that some students auditioned for more than one role.

Auditioning students had to interview and be prepared to answer why they wanted to be a part of praise team and what they hoped praise team would add to MCH chapel worship.

Additionally, instrumentalists needed to be prepared to play one of two specified songs, vocalists and Worship Choir needed to be prepared to perform one of two specified songs while rap/spoken word/poetry needed to be prepared with a short poem or verse about any aspect of prayer that was real and meaningful to them. For dance auditions, praise dancers were taught a short dance and performed two given options.

“I knew we had talented students so I was not surprised by the auditions,” said Kimberly Clark, director of spiritual development. “However, I was blown away by the interviews! We have some students who are raw, honest and rich in faith. We made a point this year to look for students that were really interested in growing in faith; students who understood the purpose of worship and who were willing to take on leadership inside and outside of worship.”

Clark, along with the other three members of the Spiritual Development team, said that they had to make some very tough decisions this year.

“We did not accept many talented students because they were not ready spiritually,” she said. “It is not about being seen and heard but pointing the congregation to the ONE who knows and loves them.”

Overall, Clark said the Spiritual Development team is excited about cultivating a group of leaders that want to effect a positive change in the MCH community.

“Students want to do what is right and we think we are working toward creating a peer culture that encourages good choices instead of drama and judgement,” said Clark, speaking on behalf of the Spiritual Development team. “We are also excited to see students participate that we never imagined would want to be part of Praise Team.”

Rehearsals for each element of the Praise Team started in September and will soon be integrated into Sunday worship services.  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

MCH students and charter school teachers welcome new initiatives and programs this school year.

The charter school on the Waco campus of Methodist Children’s Home, operating in partnership with the University of Texas – University Charter School system, started its 14th year on August 15. In June 2017, the school graduated its 300th student and is continuing to implement a new initiative and new programs in hopes of hitting more milestones.

This year the charter school is focusing on Restorative Discipline. According to Michelle Arocha, assistant principal, “Restorative Discipline is a whole school approach to building school climate and addressing student behavior.”

Every day teachers are allotted an extra 15 minutes in their class period for a proactive circle program.

“This is a place for teachers to check in with students, to see what they have learned in class during the week and to see if they have questions about course content,” Arocha said. “Every student in the circle has the opportunity to have their voice heard and know that their opinion is valued.”

When it comes to conflict, restorative discipline also uses the circle program to foster accountability rather than punishment.  

In the event of conflict, “parties have to meet in a restorative circle and discuss what happened,” Arocha explained. “All parties then come to an agreement for how they need to treat each other and what needs to happen moving forward. There is some kind of agreed upon restitution to the party that was harmed and then the facilitator of the circles check in on the parties in the following weeks to make sure the agreement in being kept.”

Echoing the restorative discipline initiative of fostering a healthy school climate, the charter school has been given the theme of Super HEROES (Helping Everyone Reach their Own Educational Success) to use this school year.

Further, the school was tasked to come up with their own campus super heroes. The charter school decided on two heroes, Diamond Diggers, as they are always looking for ‘diamonds’ in their faculty, students and staff, and Data Divas, who make sure that the school helps everyone become successful.

Additionally, the school has introduced another program to foster a positive environment for the students called “Write Your Principal.” This is a way for students to directly and anonymously contact the principals and administration by writing questions and comments on a piece of paper and dropping them off in a locked mailbox that is read daily, Arocha explained.

The final program taking place this year focuses on teachers and staff. All charter school leadership is participating in a book study on The Fundamental 5 which presents the best teaching practices.

As the charter school implements and embraces new initiatives this year, Arocha said it is their goal that 100 percent of teachers daily utilize proactive circles, empowering and correcting techniques and the practices learned from The Fundamental 5.

“I am most excited for our new faculty and staff to embrace our initiatives this year,” said Arocha. “I think that utilizing all of these programs will increase student achievement, create a positive climate and will support our entire community.”

MCH wishes the students and teachers much success as they journey through this new school year. Go Bulldogs!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

MCH Family Outreach reaches out to families during Back-to-School events

As summer ends, some families are faced with the financial burden of back-to-school preparations such as new clothes for their growing child, school supplies, or scheduling last minute hair or dental appointments. As a way to show support to families in our communities as well as build connections with other area nonprofits and businesses, MCH Family Outreach offices look for opportunities to be a part of back-to-school events.

“Participating in back-to-school events in these communities, whether our own or in collaboration with community partners, allows us to offer an event to clients of our programs and others where families can come together, learn about helpful resources, and get a start on school supplies for the children in their families,” said Kelly Smith, outreach administrator for the Western region. “These events strengthen our partnerships with other community organizations and increase awareness of MCH services as well.”

Below are a few examples of ways our outreach offices partnered with families in their communities as they prepared for the new school year:

Bryan/College Station:  The Bryan Outreach office passed out backpacks to those who were unable to purchase the necessary items for their children. They filled up different backpacks based on the varying school lists and attached the list of contents to each backpack in order to customize the service to the need of the child. Bryan/College Station also set up a booth at the Bryan Independent School District (ISD) pre-K and Kindergarten registration to offer families information on services. College Station ISD included an MCH information card in packets handed out to families.

Corpus Christi: Staff attended the Kingsville Housing Authority back-to-school event and passed out school supplies to children. They also attended the Portland First United Methodist Church 4th Annual Back-to-School Health Screening which provided free annual and sports physicals for children. Adults were also provided free health screenings by vendors.

Grace United Methodist Church also donated school supply items as well as personal hygiene, diapers, and wipes for MCH families. Also, a previous client secured sponsorship slots for MCH children to receive a free haircut, school supplies and a complete head-to-toe outfit. The event was sponsored by A1 Finest Barbershop and Herrman & Herrman law firm.

El Paso: For the second consecutive year, MCH Family Outreach in El Paso participated in the Ysleta Independent School District Back-to-School Rally on Aug. 19 where 2,000 backpacks were handed out to children from Ysleta and El Paso. MCH Family Outreach donated more than 1,000 notebooks, 590 composition books and 300 packages of crayons.

“Kudos to the El Paso staff for all their hard work and dedication to keep the assembly line running smoothly as they were stuffing backpacks,” said Zahire Gonzalez-Villa, director of MCH Family Outreach in El Paso. “It was a truly heartwarming experience to see the smiles on all the children’s faces as they received their backpacks stuffed with supplies. A special thank you also to the Parkland Football Team and Natalie Hurtado for all their help. It was much appreciated!”

Houston: MCH Family Outreach in Houston participated in the ABC Dental back-to-school event on July 29 to provide school supplies and health screenings for children in need. The event included vendors, a bounce house, snow cones and local emergency teams with fire trucks and police robots. MCH Family Outreach received a recognition award during the event for its support of the community.

MCH Family Outreach also participated in the Back-to-School Extravaganza on Aug. 25, hosted by Houston Independent School District ­– Homeless Education Office, to provide backpacks, shoes, school supplies, health screenings, immunizations, fresh produce, and assistance with applying for Medicaid, CHIP, and SNAP. On Sept. 9, they will also be a part of the Aldine-Harris County – Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support’s 14th annual Family Strengthening Conference. The conference is a community service event to raise awareness of health, family issues, and many more situations that grandparents, kinship, and single parents face with raising children and the entire family. Participants will be offered free health screenings, school supplies, education materials designed to promote personal health and well-being, and a variety of resources from keynote speakers and agencies.

Killeen:  MCH Family Outreach in Killeen facilitated activities for children during back-to-school events at Grace United Methodist Church in Copperas Cove on Aug. 13 and at Y Armed Services in Copperas Cove on Aug. 26. The office also participated in the Head Start Open House on two dates and the back-to-school event at Bell County Juvenile Services on Aug. 18 where they had activities and giveaways for families.

Las Cruces: Gap families from MCH Family Outreach in Las Cruces received clothes, shoes, school supplies, and a backpack during an event hosted by the Las Cruces Gospel Rescue Mission Clothing Room on Aug. 10. Also, on Aug. 11 members of the Caregiver Empowerment Group were recipients of backpack donations from UnitedHealth Care and Unified Prevention Coalition. Las Cruces outreach staff added school supplies to the backpacks. The Las Cruces Police Department visited to talk to families about safety and provide children with identification cards. Molina Healthcare shared information about their services which encouraging children to ride their “Smoothie Bike.” Information about services was also provided to families by New Mexico Kids Resource and Referral program, UnitedHealth Care, United Prevention Coalition and Las Cruces Public School Attendance/Student Services.

On Aug. 12, Las Cruces outreach families were part of the “Shop with a Cop” event hosted by Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge #8. Children were given a voucher and shopped with officers to purchase back-to-school clothing and supplies. Families will also shop with officers again in December.

San Antonio:  On Aug. 16, MCH Family Outreach staff in San Antonio worked with Coker United Methodist Church during a backpack distribution event for families receiving food assistance from the church’s wellness center. MCH staff also participated in the Alamo Area Council of Government’s back-to-school voucher event at the San Antonio Food Bank.

Tyler: MCH Family Outreach in Tyler served underprivileged families in the community during the “School is Cool” event in Tyler. This event offered school supplies, discounts for school uniforms and other clothing items. Many organizations, local radio stations and food vendors came out to promote their services and provided food and refreshments to participants. 

Thank you to all the organizations who partnered with us in serving families this year during back-to-school events!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Alumna demonstrates gratitude through continued support of MCH

Mamie Lee Dodds presents the money tree to
Trey Oakley, vice president for development.
Mamie Lee Dodds, a resident of Big Spring, Texas, recently celebrated her 98th birthday. To mark this joyous milestone, Dodds chose to forego gifts and instead asked her friends and loved ones to make donations to Methodist Children’s Home (MCH), a ministry very dear to her heart. With this benevolent gesture, she raised almost $3,000 for the children, youth and families in our care.

MCH became home to Dodds and her four siblings when she was only 3 years old. She lived there for most of her childhood and left in 1935 to move to Big Spring. She went on to complete her education and served as a teacher for more than 30 years in Big Spring Independent School District.

Dodds also became highly involved in community service and was recognized in 1993 as the Big Spring Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Women of the Year for her efforts to improve the quality of life in the community. Dodds is an active member of her church, First United Methodist Church of Big Spring, where she has served as a Sunday School teacher, choir member and lay speaker. 

Dodds received the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Methodist Children’s Home Alumni Association for her service to MCH and the community. Aside from her work with the Alumni Association, Dodds has partnered with MCH consistently by hosting Christmas party fundraisers for the ministry, serving as a commissioner, and assisting in the development of historical projects at MCH including the Perkins Heritage Home Visitors Center and the historical book commemorating the 125th anniversary of the organization.

Dodds was given a “money tree” from a fellow educator around 40 years ago and since then has used the tree as a tool for raising money for various causes in the community and MCH. After receiving donations through the money tree at her birthday celebration, she passed it on to Methodist Children’s Home where it will be displayed in the Perkins Heritage Home Visitors Center.

Trey Oakley, vice president for development at MCH, attended the birthday celebration and accepted the gift on behalf of the ministry.

“Mamie Lee is a living example of how God is at work through Methodist Children’s Home,” Oakley said. “She was blessed during her childhood by this ministry and now returns that blessing to others. We are grateful for her continued support and loyalty. We are proud to have Mamie Lee representing MCH.” 

Mamie Lee Dodds (front, right) is pictured with her siblings at MCH in 1925. 

Dodds recently celebrated her 98th birthday.

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.”