Friday, April 20, 2018

MCH Family Outreach hosts Empowered to Connect simulcast

Members of the Waco and Bryan/College Station communities learned about trauma-informed care during the Empowered to Connect simulcast on April 13-14. The live simulcast showed presentations from the main conference held in Tennessee where childcare leaders shared knowledge and strategies to help professionals, adoptive and foster parents better connect with children who have experienced emotional or physical trauma and the effects those experiences can have developmentally.

The conference is a joint effort between the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University, Empowered to Connect, and Show Hope. Show Hope an international movement to care for orphans through adoption aid, care centers, adoption support and student initiatives. Presenters shared Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) methods developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross from the TCU institute to help bring attachment and connection to families.

MCH Family Outreach in Waco hosted the simulcast on the Waco campus. Attendees included social workers, teachers, clergy, and foster and adoptive caregivers. This was Waco’s fourth year hosting the event and second time to host.

“Offering the simulcast allows local families and professionals to have access to TBRI information directly from TCU team members,” said Brooke Davilla, director of MCH Family Outreach in Waco. “As we are committed to spreading trauma-informed care services to our community, we feel this is a wonderful opportunity for those who may not readily be able to attend trainings that are far away. Offering the simulcast also allowed MCH Family Outreach to meet new families and referral services who may utilize our services in the future.”

MCH Family Outreach in Bryan/College Station hosted the simulcast for the first time at First United Methodist Church of Bryan with 30 people attending. Ted Randall, director of the Bryan office, said 11 participants were foster and adoptive parents while 19 were professionals from local school districts, Child Protective Services, and local community outreach services.

“We wanted to host Empowered to Connect to bring TBRI to the community,” Randall said. “We believe professionals, biological parents and foster/adoptive parents can all benefit from trauma-informed care. This was a great beginning to bringing more information into their lives. Additionally, it allowed our MCH Family Outreach office to share about how we can work with area agencies, schools and families to continue their education and practice with trauma-informed practices.”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Spiritual Development Weekend 2018

For around 20 years, Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) has hosted spiritually focused weekends for its young residents. The time is meant to challenge youth to discuss and grow in their faith.

This year’s Spiritual Development (SD) Weekend took place March 16-18 and included a concert, worship services, speakers and a lunch for seniors. The Spiritual Development ministers have been taking residents through the book of Acts and discussing the early church. The theme of “story” continued throughout the weekend as they focused on how each person has a part in the overall story of God’s people.

Residents were treated to a concert on Friday evening and welcomed musical guests Austin Lanier and Capital G. Kim Clark, director of spiritual development at MCH, said Capital G participated in SD weekend before and one of the MCH ministers had heard Lanier at a prior event. The artists also spoke to students during events on Saturday.

“We desire to expose our students to a variety of men and women living lives of service to Christ,” Clark said. “We hope our students see that following Christ is a daily choice that can (and should) be the focus and purpose of how they spend their time, talent and efforts. Sometimes, hearing from a successful artist/speaker outside of this community helps us convey that.”

During the concert, several MCH students also performed their original pieces including poetry, piano, and raps.

Clark said hosting a lunch on Saturday for seniors who will be graduating in May allowed SD ministers time to speak with the youth one-on-one as they prepare to transition from the residential program.

“We always look forward to time alone with the seniors,” she said. “We want to make them feel special because graduating is a huge accomplishment, but we also want to have some frank discussions about what can be expected after graduation. Our hope is they will start incorporating practices and habits into their lives while they are here that will make it easier for them to make good choices in the future.

“We ask them to identify adults in their lives that will be on their side and offer assistance,” she added. “We ask them what their plan is after graduation, and we talk about what it looks like to continue their journey with Christ when no one is making them get up for church on Sunday morning.”

Spiritual Development Weekend closed with a worship service on Sunday morning to conclude the events.  

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

New partnership provides furniture for MCH Family Outreach families

From left: Kelsey Taylor (case manager), Aletta,
and Ted Randall (Bryan outreach director) at Aletta's new home.

Aletta, a mother in Bryan, Texas, who is supporting 16-year-old twin daughters and a 10-year-old daughter, recently received a couch and matching chairs for her new apartment thanks to a partnership formed between MCH Family Outreach in Bryan/College Station and FEMA. Aletta has been working to improve her family’s situation and said the furniture was a helpful addition.

“I was very surprised,” Aletta said. “Really, I am blessed. I have been blessed with everything that has happened with MCH from the beginning.”
Aletta has been working with MCH for five months and through the support of her daughters and MCH case manager, Kelsey Taylor, has made positive changes.

“Change can be hard but when you have someone who knows you can do it – someone that really believes in you – that makes you want to go for that change,” Aletta said. “It is the extra voice that really helps. This program has been life-changing.”

The furniture Aletta received through FEMA was used in portable homes taken to disaster areas for families to live in while their homes are repaired. Once they are done with the homes, FEMA cleans and preps the hard-surface furniture and homes for the next use. However, any “soft” furniture, such as couches or fabric chairs, cannot be reused at sites and is donated to nonprofit organizations.

Bryan/College Station case manager Susan Hays said she learned about the FEMA resource from friends at another local nonprofit and contacted them to inquire about furniture for MCH clients. This call resulted in a collaboration that has greatly benefitted MCH families working to get back on their feet, according to Ted Randall, director of MCH Family Outreach in Bryan/College Station.

“This partnership has met a significant need for some of our families,” Randall said. “We have families who were living in substandard conditions and are able to move, but could not afford new furniture. This partnership has allowed us to supply furniture to these families. We have also been able to provide beds or pull-out couches to families who did not have enough sleeping areas for all of their family members.”
Randall said FEMA allowed them to walk through the staging area where furniture is stored to pick items that could be used by their families. They then store the furniture in the office until they are able to deliver it to families.

“Most of the furniture we get looks brand new,” Randall said.

He said they have received couches, chairs, bed frames and FEMA even received approval to donate mattresses still in its original plastic wrap that were in a home sent into the field. So far the furniture has blessed a single mother of six children as well as Aletta’s family.

“My story, it’s been a road to get here,” Aletta said. “But there is momentum. It is going good; it is going more than good.”

MCH staff members deliver the furniture to Aletta's new apartment.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

MCH Family Outreach leads parent education for residential staff

Methodist Children’s Home staff are working together to share knowledge in order to better serve children, youth and families. Staff from MCH Family Outreach in Waco are currently leading a Circle of Security (COS) parenting course for home parents from the MCH Boys Ranch to provide them with more insight and understanding as they care for youth in the residential program.

“This is an effort to better support our direct care staff and give them more tools to help them be more effective,” explained Moe Dozier, vice president for programs. “It also includes components of self-care which will be helpful for staff.”
Dozier said the idea to train residential staff in COS came about last fall when they identified that residential caregivers deal with a lot of the same issues parents do. They first shared the model of care with unit managers. Home parents from the Boys Ranch began the training in December 2017, and classes for Waco campus direct care staff will commence in 2018. 

MCH Family Outreach began implementing COS in 2016 as an additional parenting education model. The model includes an eight-week curriculum based on attachment theory and research that shows “secure children exhibit increased empathy, greater self-esteem, better relationships with parents and peers, enhanced school readiness, and an increased capacity to handle emotions more effectively when compared with children who are not secure.”

In the COS model, parents/caregivers are shown that as children go out and explore the world around them, parents/caregivers can provide them with encouragement and a secure base or safe haven for when they return to them. The model helps parents/caregivers understand the child’s emotions and be there to support them by providing comfort, protection and help in dealing with their feelings.
COS also helps parents/caregivers recognize their own triggers that make them feel unable to deal with a situation and provides them with tools to overcome these triggers in order to handle the child’s needs.

“Our hope in sharing COS with residential and ranch staff is to create a space for staff to reflect on their caregiving experiences, become more attuned to the attachment needs we all have and further support the utilization of Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI),” said Brooke Davilla, director of MCH Family Outreach in Waco.

“As an agency we are fortunate to be exposed to many quality trainings and want to ensure that we maximize those opportunities by sharing with any staff who would benefit,” Davilla said. “We have greatly enjoyed the experience of building relationships across our MCH departments.”
Home parents have shared positive feedback about the classes and collaboration with MCH Family Outreach staff.

“I really enjoyed doing the activity that helped us identify and relate to things from our childhood and how they affected us growing up and still today,” said Vivian Thomas, home parent at the Boys Ranch. “The activity brought to the forefront some issues which definitely helps me relate to everyday emotions I see within the youth we work with.”

Waco case managers Ana Chatham and Sara Beth Stoltzfus are leading the biweekly classes to coordinate with the home parents’ weekly schedule.
“It has been a wonderful experience working with the ranch staff,” Stoltzfus said. “They add new depth and meaning to this curriculum. I can tell they are already terrific home parents but it appears that the class has still been a beneficial time of reflection and unique way to discuss the needs of the kids in our care.”

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

MCH students participate in 2018 McLennan County Livestock Show

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) students competed in the 2018 McLennan County Junior Livestock Show with six students receiving scholarships and five animals progressing to the sale. A total of 24 students from the charter school’s FFA program showed livestock and eight students submitted a total of 10 projects to the Ag mechanics contest.

The show took place Feb. 6-9 at the Extraco Events Center in Waco with FFA and 4-H programs from schools around the county competing in the annual contest. Throughout the year, Ag teachers Steve Kruse and Kevin Gibbs work with the students on showing techniques and how to prepare the animals for livestock shows.

“Mr. Gibbs and I would like to thank everyone who came out and supported the students,” Kruse said. “I had many compliments this week on the behavior of the students which proves we are all doing something positive to mold young men and women. Most of all, thank you to the students for the hard work, and to God for watching over us all week.” 

See below for a list of results:
Market swine: BOYB – Noah (5th), Adam (6th), also participated – Julio, Danny; York – Ladarius (10th), also participated – Bryce; Duroc – KK (9th), Noah (10th), also participated – Roger, Blake; Hamp – Philip participated; Cross – Anthony (10th), also participated – Sam.

Steer:  Galen (8th in class one), Marisa (8th in class three).

Goats: Lucas (7th), Triston (8th), Dustin (9th).

Sheep:  Hair sheep – Layla (3rd), Duane (3rd); Sheep – Adriana (2nd), Sai (3rd), Juliana (4th), D’Nayjah (4th), Dathan (9th), Jaelyne (10th).

Ag Mechanics projects: Scholarships to Texas State Technical College received by Galen, Noah, Marisa, Chandler, Danny, and Julio.
Gate made by Danny and Julio – Blue quality, 1st in division, Reserve Champion; Electric shop bench made by Galen – Blue quality, 1st in division, Champion division; Lamp made by Marisa – Blue quality, 1st in division, Reserve Champion; Reclaimed table – Blue quality, 2nd in division; BBQ combo made by Danny and Chandler – Blue quality, 2nd in division, Reserve Champion; Hay spear made by Danny and Galen – Blue quality, 1st in division; Coffee table made by Jaelyne – Red quality, 2nd in division; Other projects – Cedar bench made by Adam, Creep Feeder made by Galen and Noah, Fire pit made by Julio.

Congratulations to our students on a great show!

Click here for a photo gallery from the McLennan County Junior Livestock Show. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Locals Love Us Detailed Voting Instructions

Locals Love Us is a local company that provides a way for people to safely and fairly vote online for their "most loved" places in town. Favorite businesses and organizations earn recognition through the voting process and are published through the annual Local Love Us directory and on a comprehensive website that breaks down votes by category and voter demographics. 

Voting is easy! Just follow this link or go to .

Upon following the link, you'll be prompted to select your community in the drop down menu. 

After selecting "Waco" at the bottom of the page, click vote below the gold icon. 

If you have previously voted on the Locals Love website you will then be prompted to sign in. 

If this is your fist time voting you will be prompted to register. 

Please note that registering is completely secure. Registering provides a way to confirm that you are a part of the Waco community. This step also allows for safe and fair voting. 

After registering, you will be taken to your profile page.This 
page will ask for basic information.

Please note that you have the option to check or uncheck the
VP Status Box which will save your information for next year. 

Before clicking on Save and Go Vote, please verify your profile. You will be prompted at the top of your screen. You can select to verify your profile by phone or by text.

Unlike most online surveys, Locals Love Us will only allow one ballot per person. Phone number verification is how they make that happen. It is promised that they will only use your phone number for this call or text, whichever method you select.

Once you are registered you are free to vote for Methodist Children’s Home! Click Save and Go Vote in orange.  

To vote for Methodist Children's Home, click on the 
Services category, the 8th category from the top in the Sections bar. 

On the second page you will find Charitable/Community Services. In the open box below Charitable/Community Services type in Methodist Childrens Home.   

Once you see the orange remove button to the right of your vote, you can rest assured that your vote for Methodist Children’s Home has been submitted!

Locals Love Us has many categories to vote for. Feel free to vote for your favorite locals in the poll, just as you voted for MCH. Please know that you do not have to vote for anything beyond MCH to complete the voting process. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Core Value Award for Christian Principles

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

The Core Values for MCH are:
Christian Principles

The recipients of the Core Award for Christian Principles apply the principles of the Christian faith which serve as the foundation for this ministry.

In late August, Hurricane Harvey devastated large areas of Texas and Louisiana. While MCH offices in the area were spared from major damage, children and families and other care giving agencies throughout Southeast Texas were impacted by this historic storm. 

MCH gave special recognition and the Core Value Award for Christian Principles to Corpus Christi MCH Family Outreach, Houston MCH Family Outreach, School and Support Services, Waco Campus Administration and Plant Services for the work that they did, and as some continue to do, amidst the destruction and distress of Hurricane Harvey. 

Corpus Christi MCH Family Outreach

Houston MCH Family Outreach 

School and Support Services 

Plant Services

Friday, January 5, 2018

MCH Family Outreach celebrates the holidays with families

Methodist Children’s Home is blessed each year during the holidays by churches and organizations across Texas and New Mexico who step in to sponsor activities for our MCH Family Outreach offices. This year was no exception as each office hosted holiday celebrations for families served through foster care and family preservation services.

“All locations host holiday events to celebrate the season with families and to provide opportunities for fellowship with and support from other families and staff,” said Kelly Smith, MCH program administrator for the Western region. “These events also provide opportunity for community partners to show support for the families in our programs.”

Below are details of events hosted by each office location this year:

Abilene:  The Abilene Christmas party was held at Beltway Coffee Company who offered the group a discounted price. Board games were on each table and families could also try Christmas crafts. “Getting to know you” bingo was available for the adults so all of the families could mingle. Staff also led a game involving a gigantic plastic wrap ball that was filled with prizes. Everyone had to wear oven mitts and had 30 seconds to unwrap the ball. The children also enjoyed Beltway’s indoor playground.

Albuquerque: The Albuquerque event this year was held at Christ United Methodist Church on Dec. 9. Chick-fil-A (general manager Jeremy Tafoya) generously agreed to provide food for the 50 guests as well as MCH staff and volunteers. MCH hosted a Christmas store event, in which families had the opportunity to shop for presents for one another. First, parents shopped for children and had the opportunity to choose from a plethora of donated gifts from Methodist churches in the community. After lunch, children had the opportunity to do the same for their parents or caregivers. In between shopping, families enjoyed Christmas songs, a Christmas skit and an arts and crafts project.

Bryan/CS: Staff took care in putting together gift baskets for caregivers and presents for children that are currently being served through their programs or were recently discharged. They then personally delivered the gifts to the family’s home or had them available to pick up at the office.

Corpus Christi: The Corpus Christi office partnered with Mission 911, a local shelter, to provide seven families with a Christmas tree, stand and boxed ornaments. Corpus Outreach also hosted a Christmas party on Dec. 15 at Hester’s Café. The venue and gifts were sponsored by St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. A total of 69 children and 25 families received Christmas gifts from Santa. Families were able to enjoy Christmas cookies and hot chocolate while the children made reindeer antler crafts. Families were able to take pictures with a Christmas backdrop designed by MCH staff. The local police and fire departments were also on site to allow children and families to tour the emergency vehicles. The police department passed out stuffed teddy bears to all in attendance. Staff said they all greatly enjoyed the event and felt very blessed to be allowed to spend this time in celebration with families.

Dallas: The Dallas Outreach office hired a balloon professional that was a hit with the kids. The Journey Men, a group from First United Methodist Church of Richardson, volunteer each year for the office and feed all of the families and kids attending the party. They supplied and served bacon, sausage, eggs, and biscuits and gravy to feed more than 100 guests. One of the volunteers also dressed up like Santa and most clients got their pictures taken with him. Every single child there was provided one gift from Santa. FUMC of Richardson provided their fellowship hall for the party. Three Christmas trees and a booth display were set up for photos. Most of the Christmas gifts this year were again supplied by First United Methodist Church in Coppell.

El Paso: On Dec. 14, El Paso Outreach celebrated its second annual Christmas celebration at Peter Piper Pizza for Gap and Family Solutions families. This year the attendance almost doubled from 50 to 97 attendees. The mascot for the El Paso Chihuahuas baseball team, Chico the dog, made a special appearance to play with the children and take pictures with families and staff. In addition, the staff entertained the children with arts and crafts projects and a game of reindeer ring toss. Thank you to the Chihuahuas baseball team and Chico for making this Christmas celebration memorable for our families.

Houston: The Houston foster care Christmas party was again held at Deer Park United Methodist Church. MCH foster children as well as biological children of the foster parents provided the entertainment, which included singing, reading Bible stories, praise dancing, and a magic trick. Thank you to Deer Park UMC for providing everything needed to make this occasion special for our families.

There were 15 adults and 26 children from the Gap and Family Solutions programs in attendance for the Christmas party on Dec. 16 at St. Luke's Methodist Church. They sang Christmas songs, played games, took pictures with Santa, ate, and decorated Christmas cookies. The families enjoyed themselves and the Christmas party was a success!

Killeen: Killeen welcomed families to their Christmas party on Dec. 16 at First United Methodist Church of Killeen. Volunteers from Trinity Baptist and Harker Heights UMC helped run the event by manning games, registration and restocking food. Chick-fil-A donated a portion of the food for families. Guests enjoyed decorating cookies, playing bingo, making crafts, and playing games.

Las Cruces: The Las Cruces staff hosted several family festivities this year in celebration of the holidays. First, they converted their conference room into a photo studio for families to take pictures and talk about what makes their family special. Las Cruces also partnered with the Fraternal Order of Police for “Shop with a Cop” where 11 families received vouchers for items along with help from a police officer who served as their shopping assistant. More than 70 people gathered for the Las Cruces Outreach office’s Winterfest on Dec. 15. The group enjoyed activities and food specially prepared by staff and members of the Gap Planning Committee. United Healthcare also provided Play-Doh for crafts, information and gifts for guests. Guests could also take home wreaths, ornaments, snowmen, jewelry, and other gifts they made during the festivities. The evening was topped off by a visit from Santa who took pictures with the children.

Lubbock: The Lubbock office had their annual Christmas party for Family Solutions and Gap clients on Dec. 6. The party was hosted again by the ladies at Lakeridge United Methodist Church. They provided the families with breakfast, donated by Chick-fil-A, and stockings stuffed with lots of goodies for each child in attendance. MCH Family Outreach staff provided each family with a basket full of household necessities and games for the children. The children sang Christmas carols and welcomed Santa and Mrs. Claus to the party while singing “Here Comes Santa Claus.” This year there were a total of 20 families with 60 children at the party and all enjoyed a time of fun and fellowship together.

San Antonio: On Dec. 2 the San Antonio office hosted “A Charlie Brown Christmas” party for foster families. Families and staff came together to celebrate the holidays and enjoy fellowship with one another at the University United Methodist Church. Children had several activity stations to choose from and completed several Charlie Brown arts and crafts projects. Children also received a special visit from Santa Claus and were surprised with Christmas presents. The Charlie Brown Christmas Party created a warm, inviting environment that allowed everyone to come together and celebrate the Christmas holiday.

Tyler: The Tyler Outreach office hosted two Christmas parties. On Dec. 8 the Mentoring Alliance/Boys and Girls Club of Tyler donated the use of their building space for the preservation family party. Jon Lasse of the Boys and Girls Club-Tyler donated his time and energy during the event. Guests were treated to pizza and cupcakes, crafts, a bounce house, and presents to take home.

For the foster family Christmas party, MCH Family Outreach in Tyler partnered with Marvin United Methodist Church again this year. Members of the church faithfully volunteer for this event each year and purchase gifts for the children. During the party children were given the opportunity to participate in activities ranging from engaging holiday crafts, to face-painting and a bounce house. Then, just down the hallway from these happenings, kids of all ages were able to visit with Santa Claus and share with him their detailed Christmas wishes. After this, all of the children in attendance opened presents that were provided for them from either Marvin United Methodist members or MCH Family Outreach. Chick-fil-A donated more than 100 sandwiches and nuggets for the lunch. After lunch the group enjoyed a cake and sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus.

Waco: Together with staff in Waco Outreach, Baylor intern Phoebe Stanford planned a spectacular party for Family Solutions and Gap families. Central United Methodist Church and Senior Ministries provided about 85 personally selected gifts for the children. Nan Holmes from Central United Methodist Church attended the celebration and helped serve food and engaged with the children. Benefactor Betty Bender donated handmade hats for the children and Central UMC provided handmade blankets. During the party, staff provided a kid-friendly menu of pizza, a veggie tray, tea and cupcakes. Guests played bingo, decorated cookies and had a raffle drawing. Santa also stopped by to visit. Other generous donations included: Central UMC provided a financial offering to support the purchase of food and miscellaneous items; Tea-to-Go provided several gallons of tea, cups and ice; Magnolia Bakery provided 100 cupcakes and assorted cookies; Collin Street Bakery provided us with a generous discount on cookies for decorating; Shorty’s Pizza provided six free pizzas; and Papa Johns provided three free pizzas.

Thank you to all our friends who supported MCH Family Outreach offices this year!