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.”