Teaching by Example

This story was first published in the Fall 2011 issue of Sunshine magazine.

Johnny Salas, MCH staff member with Moises, a resident on the Waco campus 

For more than two decades, Daniel Salas faithfully worked in the plant department at Methodist Children’s Home where he helped take care of the 130-acre Waco campus.

As part of his responsibilities, Mr. Salas drove a dump truck to haul trash to the landfill. During the summer, he often stopped by his house to pick up his young son, Johnny, so they could share time together. Johnny looked forward to hearing the large truck rumbling down his street.

“I remember bouncing around in the seat as my dad drove that big green truck and looking out the window thinking that I was somebody,” Johnny said. “It made me feel good to go to work with my dad.”

During these trips, Mr. Salas shared important life lessons with Johnny. After Mr. Salas retired, Johnny carried on his father’s legacy at the Home, joining the plant staff in 1985. Johnny now serves as the lead painter and helps maintain campus facilities and grounds. Combining their years at MCH, the Salas family has served the Home for 50 years.

Just as Mr. Salas shared wisdom and insight with Johnny when he was young, Johnny has a strong desire to pass on those same lessons with youth at MCH.

Three years ago, Johnny received an opportunity to serve as a summer internship supervisor to Moises, a new resident at MCH. Moises wanted to work on campus, and he had an interest in painting. Johnny and Moises worked well together, and this past August Moises completed this third internship working alongside Johnny. Moises and Johnny have painted buildings, plastered and repaired walls, stained office furniture, tiled floors and striped parking lots.

In addition to teaching job skills, Johnny is helping Moises build a strong foundation for life. Johnny developed a positive work ethic from his father. Johnny shares the same sense of pride and commitment in his work at the Home, and he wants to help Moises develop responsibility and accountability in the workplace.

“I tell Moises that when he has a job, he needs to get up every day and go to work,” Johnny said.

It is a lesson Moises has taken to heart. This past summer, Johnny scheduled an early morning to paint stripes on a parking lot. Due to the summer heat, Johnny wanted to start painting as the sun began to rise. Moises told Johnny he would be there to help him. At 5:45 a.m. the next day, while Johnny was getting ready to paint, he looked up and saw Moises walking toward him.

“I wanted to show Mr. Johnny that I’m responsible, that I’m a man of my word,” Moises said.

Johnny was impressed with Moises’ commitment.

“Moises is a good worker and a good guy,” Johnny said. “He’s willing to learn, and he needs to learn as much as he can while he’s here.”

Laura Bonner, a unit manager at MCH, has witnessed the growth Moises has experienced through his internships.

“This job has given Moises more confidence, which has contributed to his leadership in our home unit,” she said. “Moises has learned the value of a good work ethic. He appreciates the time Johnny spends teaching him new skills.”

Moises admits he has learned a lot from staff after coming to MCH in 2008. His mother placed Moises at the Home to remove him from negative influences in his hometown. Moises was familiar with MCH, having visited two sisters who lived on the Waco campus when he was a young boy. Through the years, he has gained an appreciation for MCH.

“I don’t know where I would be without Methodist Children’s Home,” he said. “This is my home, and I’m not afraid to say it.”

Although he still has a few years of high school to complete, Moises is already thinking about the future. He would like to become a social worker at MCH as a way to express his appreciation for the Home.

“I love helping people, and MCH is my family,” Moises said. “I believe this is why God put me here.”

Whatever career Moises chooses one day, he will be prepared to pass on the life lessons he has learned from his staff, including Johnny Salas.

“Everything is a fun experience with Mr. Johnny,” Moises said. “He’s always telling me stories or giving me advice. He’s a big role model in my life. I’m just trying to follow in Mr. Johnny’s footsteps.”

See other Features