Kayla's Story: A Contagious Spirit

This story was first printed in the Fall 2011 issue of Sunshine Magazine.


Photo of Kayla, a resident at Methodist Children's HomeKayla's personality and enthusiasm for life have blossomed since she arrived at Methodist Children's Home.

When Kayla came to Methodist Children’s Home two years ago, she was heartbroken and hopeless. Now, she exudes a love for life and looks forward to the future.

Kayla’s childhood was a rocky one. Her father was incarcerated, and she and her younger brother had been removed from their mother’s home by CPS and placed with her grandfather. According to Kayla, she and her grandfather began to have many conflicts as she got older.

“My grandfather and I didn’t see eye-to-eye,” Kayla said. “I was failing school and started to rebel.”

Kayla’s family decided to place her at MCH. Although Kayla did not want to leave her home in New Mexico, she hoped her time in Texas would be the best decision for her future.

Kayla’s homeparents at MCH, Danny and Jean Miller, were the first people she met on the Waco campus.

“I immediately connected with the Millers,” Kayla said. “They made me feel at home.”

Kayla and the Millers have become close, and she describes them “as the parents I never had.” Though the Millers treat all youth in their home unit the same, Jean Miller reminds their girls that “what you put into the relationship is what you get out of it.” To Kayla, building positive relationships is worth the effort.

“She’s the kind of girl you can fall in love with right away,” Jean Miller said.

With her uplifting spirit and obvious love for life, things have turned around for Kayla as the Home enables her to thrive.

Kayla, who grew up on a ranch in New Mexico with her grandfather, is taking advantage of the Home’s Agriculture Science and FFA programs at the MCH charter school. Three years ago, the Ag Science program was made available to students on the Waco campus when the youth from the Boys Ranch began attending school on the Waco campus. This transition in the school program opened the door for girls on the Waco campus to become involved in Ag Science.

Kayla feels at home when she is spending time with animals or building a shop project at the Boys Ranch. Through Ag Science, students are responsible for taking care of their animals during the school year, and they learn how to show them in competition. Last year, Kayla showed a goat at local livestock shows, and she is showing a heifer this fall. Kayla spends as much time as she can with her heifer, which she named Lady New Mexico.

Being involved in Ag Science has given Kayla hope for her future. She plans to earn a degree in agriculture and business management in college and become a veterinarian technician. She also wants to own a ranch and raise cattle.

“I love everything about ranching,” Kayla said. “Since I grew up on a farm, I feel at home there. Without Methodist Children’s Home, I would have dropped out of school. I wouldn’t have known that I could succeed at something.”

Staff members began to notice a significant change in Kayla’s outlook on life as she became involved in campus life and gained confidence.

“I can see a transformation in how she truly feels about herself,” said Erica Reyes-Rosas, Kayla’s unit manager. “When Kayla came to the Home, she was very quiet and unsure of herself. She sought others’ approval and put everyone else’s needs before her own. She was not able to utilize her gifts to the fullest prior to being here.”

Staff members admire Kayla’s desire to take initiative to develop new skills and become a well-rounded person. She continues to improve her grades in school and participates in basketball and volleyball. She also enjoys learning about gardening with the staff and youth in her home unit, in addition to woodworking and welding through the Ag Science program. Most importantly, Kayla continues to learn more about herself.

“Kayla has learned that she can just be Kayla, and she now knows that is enough,” Jean Miller said.

In addition to her accomplishments, Kayla has improved her relationship with her grandfather. According to Reyes-Rosas, he is impressed with Kayla’s growth, independence and plans for the future.

Kayla’s personality shines through everything she does. She is full of life and happy, and she loves to smile and give hugs to anyone who is willing to receive them.

“My favorite thing about Kayla is how loving she is,” Reyes-Rosas said. “Her optimism is contagious.”

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