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 Guidestar.org 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
Relationships
Responsibility Growth
Service
Hope

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
Relationships
Responsibility
Growth
Service
Hope

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
Relationships
Responsibility
Growth
Service
Hope

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 

FFA: 
(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


Athletics
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
Relationships
Responsibility
Growth
Service
Hope

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.”