Core Value: Service

This feature was first published in the Winter 2011 issue of the Sunshine magazine.

Core Value: ServiceService is more than just an action. Community service at MCH is learning to look beyond oneself to fulfill the needs of others, and it is an important part of the child care program at MCH.

Youth on the Waco, Boys Ranch and Waxahachie campuses enjoy opportunities to share their time and talents to meet the needs of others. Community service is performed on Saturdays during the school year and throughout the week in the summer. Staff and youth in each home unit are responsible for identifying service opportunities.

Belinda Gutierrez, a youth care counselor in Waxahachie, believes in the power of community service.

“Our youth learn so much from serving others,” Gutierrez said. “They begin to see the bigger picture – that other people have situations in their lives that aren’t perfect either.”

Gutierrez’s home unit volunteers during respite night at the Cowboy Church of Ellis County the first Friday of each month. This evening is set aside by the church for parents of children with special needs. The children come to the church to have a fun night with friends while the parents spend time together.

The church is equipped to provide for special needs children. Another program within the church, Reins of Life, gives the children a different option for having fun. Reins of Life provides an opportunity for children to ride gentle-natured horses with a lead and side support. This enables the child to build muscle and gain coordination skills.

MCH youth volunteer to play games with the children and act as leads or side support when they ride horses.

Tristan, one of the MCH youth who volunteers at the church, said he has gained a different outlook on life through this opportunity.

“I was nervous at first because I thought the kids were going to be different than me,” he said. “Once we went, I realized they’re not that different, and I really like to work with kids who have special needs.” 

Gutierrez said that as the youth begin to relate to the children, they learn how to get along with all ages of people and develop “patience, empathy, trust and charity.”

Community service projects can also help youth, like Tyler, develop a sense of purpose for their lives.

“The Cowboy Church is my favorite place to do community service,” Tyler said. “Because of this, I want to work with special needs kids as a career.”

In addition to their service at the church, each Saturday morning Gutierrez’s home unit meets to discuss how they can continue to serve others in the coming week.

“I like to get the boys’ input on what they want to do,” Gutierrez said. “We will start a community service project at a local nursing home soon.”

Gutierrez’s home unit decided as a team to serve the elderly by creating a monthly newsletter to share with some of the residents. Each of the boys in the home unit is responsible for a section of the newsletter.

“The key to getting youth involved in community service is finding something that empowers them,” Gutierrez said. “We let them take the reins.”

See other Features