Phil and Mae Smith receive national award


Photo of Phil and Mae Smith, Methodist Children's Home

 Pictured from left to right: Mae Smith, homeparent; Dottie Briggs, Boys Ranch Administrator; Phil Smith, homeparent.

Phil and Mae Smith, homeparents at the Boys Ranch, received a national award in April 2010 from the Coalition for Residential Education (CORE). Dottie Briggs, Boys Ranch administrator, submitted the following nomination recognizing the Smiths’ contributions to youth and families.

When Phil and Mae Smith came to the Methodist Children’s Home Boys Ranch in November 2001, they came with the intent of making a difference in the lives of youth. The Smiths are genuine and professional in all they do. They are positive role models and provide leadership that is essential for the development and growth of the youth. They are true examples of the MCH philosophy of care as they provide a safe environment and caringly set limits and boundaries that are important to the well-being of youth. They have a high degree of integrity, and they exemplify the Christian spirit and values that parallel with the mission of the Home.

The Smiths are committed homeparents who keep each boy’s interests, welfare and individual success at the forefront of their work, and their interests and strengths complement one another.

Phil enjoys working with the boys in the mechanics shop, fishing, hunting and camping. He teaches vehicle maintenance that includes tire rotation, changing motor oil, light tune up and repair work on Boys Ranch vehicles. The mechanics shop is an excellent environment for Phil and the boys to build good relationships. Phil’s ability to motivate youth, lead and tap boys’ mechanical strengths has led to many youth furthering their technical training after leaving the Boys Ranch.

The Smiths’ desire is that boys have an at-home living experience at the Boys Ranch. Mae teaches the boys about good housekeeping while doing home chores. Both Phil and Mae use everyday life experiences to teach social skills, the importance of having proper interaction with peers and adults, developing healthy hygiene practices, and sharing living quarters with other boys. The real “homey” feeling comes into play when Mae surprises the boys after school with homemade cookies. There is nothing like coming home to the smell of fresh baked cookies! The boys also enjoy planned home unit activities – going to the movies, car races, water park and out for pizza.

The Boys Ranch recently received a letter from a mother whose son came to the Ranch last year. In her letter, she speaks highly about the Smiths’ compassion and their ability to teach, coach and empower youth. In this particular case, Mae spent many hours talking and reassuring the youth’s mother that her son was going to be okay. The first step in the Smiths’ work with this youth was meeting him in his very “tough and volatile” emotional state and begin building a relationship through communication, respect, trust and love. It took several weeks of talking and sharing before the youth responded to the Smiths. The Smiths recognized the youth’s strengths and started giving him additional responsibilities and opportunities. It was through the work of the Smiths that this youth has reconnected with his mother and become a leader at the Boys Ranch.

Phil recognizes that serving others is essential in helping youth heal the pain in their own lives. Over the years, Phil and the boys have given back to the community through their work at Lion’s Park, Waco Veterans Memorial Park, Hebrew Rest Cemetery and Keep Waco Beautiful. Phil and his boys contributed over 200 hours of community service work in 2009.

The Smiths are respected by those who work with them. They volunteer to work extra hours and cover other shifts rather than displacing youth at the Boys Ranch to maintain compliance. We can always count on the Smiths to help with setting up and facilitating programmed activities. The Smiths offer other staff members their wisdom from many years of child care experience. They continue to participate in child care training and are valuable members of the Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) committee.

The Smiths have contributed to building a strong and viable program at the Boys Ranch. Phil and Mae Smith are well deserving of this award.

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