In March 2020, the nation was virtually shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. As stay-at-home orders were put in place, people altered their way of life. Methodist Children’s Home staff quickly adjusted its services to give many in its care a much-needed feeling of safety and security during an unpredictable time.
“I am so proud of the innovation and dedication shown by our staff,” said Trey Oakley, MCH president. “This is the case day in and day out at MCH, but has been on full display the past few months. Our staff continue to place the needs of our children, youth and families first. They trust our leadership is doing everything possible to adjust to a rapidly-changing situation and implementing what is needed to keep everyone safe and our ministries moving forward.”
Through the spring and into the summer, many activities for residential youth were hosted outdoors in smaller groups including Bible studies, music lessons and recreational activities. The new “SOS – Staff on Standby” team, consisting of non-direct care employees who volunteer for special activities, delivered donuts to homes to thank staff taking on the additional role as educator during distance learning. End-of-the-year celebrations such as award ceremonies were adjusted to maintain social distancing guidelines while still recognizing students. Seniors were celebrated by the MCH community during a parade on the Waco campus. Graduation was broadcast live for family and friends to watch digitally, with seniors being spaced out in the audience. Presenters wore face masks while delivering diplomas and other awards.
“Student events, recreation and spiritual development staff came together very quickly, along with support from others such as athletics and the school to revamp spring activities,” said Traci Wagner, vice president for programs. “Many precautions were taken to keep everyone safe while offering some fun activities and honoring our seniors. I am proud of the way many people came together to help create some sweet memories in this season.”
In MCH Family Outreach offices, staff supported families by meeting on porches, wearing masks and being sure to stay six feet apart. Wagner said staff increased support for families and offered resources supporting education and activities in the home.
Oakley said the pandemic also revealed learning opportunities at a time when MCH was developing its new strategic plan.
“This has already changed us,” Oakley said. “We now talk about having very focused but flexible ministries. COVID-19 showed we can and must be willing to adjust to rapidly-changing and sometimes uncontrollable circumstances around us for the good of those we serve. This will be of great benefit to us as we move forward implementing our strategic plan and determining who God wants and needs us to be in specific situations and in an ever-changing world.”