Empowering Caregivers Through Supportive Groups
MCH Family Outreach brings caregivers from the community together for a time of support and connection during Caregiver Empowerment groups. Groups can consist of parents, grandparents, relatives or fictive kinship caregivers and are led by an MCH team member.
They are intended to provide support to all caregivers in their roles by enhancing their knowledge, helping them cultivate new skills, providing them with access to community resources, and providing a space where they can receive support and encouragement from peers. Topics discussed include financial issues, legal matters, children’s behavior, self-care, advocacy, and family bonding.
MCH Family Outreach in Waco currently facilitates a Caregiver Empowerment Group for Spanish-speaking families. It has been running for more than a year and meets twice a month.
“We started the group because we felt Spanish-speaking moms in our community could benefit from having a space where they could build friendship and share experiences about parenting and other topics,” said Ana Chatham, case manager in the Waco office. “Late last year an agency here in town that used to serve Spanish-speaking families closed, and we thought we could help fill in the gap for a space such as this.”
Chatham leads the participants along with fellow case manager Sara Beth Stoltzfus. They recently hosted a gathering where the participants brought their children together to play, sing holiday songs in Spanish, and shared a potluck lunch. The suggestion for the party came from the participants themselves and provided an additional opportunity for bonding. They also suggested topics that have been discussed during meetings such as sibling rivalry, online safety, communication, and how to increase their family’s connection.
“Our main role is to provide the space and some structure, but the richness of the experience really comes from each woman opening up and sharing of themselves,” Chatham said. “As we asked the participants to reflect on what has been most impactful to them, several of them mentioned how they experience our time together as self-care, an opportunity to pause, even if it’s just for an hour every couple of weeks, and think about how they are going about their parenting role as well as other areas of their life.”
Other examples of groups in Waco and elsewhere include a monthly gathering for adoptive parents in Waco, a long-standing group in Corpus Christi that has separate spaces for caregivers and children, and a group in a maternity home in Bryan for homeless women.
Caregiver Empowerment Groups are open to any caregiver in the community, regardless of whether or not they are a client of MCH. Attendance is free of charge and all MCH Family Outreach offices across Texas and New Mexico offer these services. If you are interested in joining a Caregiver Empowerment Group, please visit MCH.org, click on the “Locations” tab, and contact the nearest MCH Family Outreach office. •
Bicycle Giving Tradition Kicks off Christmas Season at MCH
Thanks to the generosity of First United Methodist Church of Grapevine, children and youth at Methodist Children’s Home were blessed with bicycles for Christmas. The annual donation is a long-standing tradition at MCH, dating back to the late-1980s.
Whether they are served on the Waco campus, MCH Boys Ranch or through one of the 13 MCH Family Outreach offices, First UMC Grapevine makes sure every child that wants a bicycle will receive one in time for the holidays. This year 114 children received a bicycle and helmet.
The churchwide campaign begins each year in October when the church contacts MCH to determine a number of desired bicycles. First UMC Grapevine then negotiates costs with local retail stores and purchases the bicycles. On a Friday in early December, church members spend an evening putting together the new bicycles by hand and loading them into a moving truck. The following morning several members drive to Waco to deliver the bicycles and are met by grateful MCH youth and staff for unloading.
“The arrival of new bicycles is one of the most joyous events of our year!” said Allison Crawford, director of benefactor relations at MCH. “Seeing the looks on our students’ faces as bikes are delivered is the very picture of Christmas joy. We are grateful to each person at First UMC Grapevine for carrying on this tradition for so many years.” •
MCH Youth Give Back to the Community
During the season of giving, students at the MCH charter school collected food as a way to give back to others. The students delivered 407 pounds of food to Caritas, a local nonprofit working to combat hunger and poverty, and saw firsthand how their efforts are benefiting their community. MCH boys from the Slator home at the Boys Ranch also sponsored a child from the Angel Tree, and boys and girls from six homes on the Waco campus spent their Saturday afternoon ringing a bell outside of Walmart for the Salvation Army. •