Aggie Service Day at MCH
The Texas A&M Corps of Cadets Squadron 8 volunteered at the MCH Boys Ranch in October. The group of about 50 cadets, who range from freshmen to seniors, dedicate a day of service each semester to serve outside the Bryan/College Station area.
“We like to be hands-on because we like to see how our service impacts the communities we help,” said Alex Sellman, the community service officer for Squadron 8. “We like to give back however we can to Texas communities because so many help us as cadets at Texas A&M.”
The group spent the morning trimming trees and improving a campsite at the Boys Ranch. The cadets later assisted MCH staff in facilitating an event for adoptive families connected with post-adoption services at MCH Family Outreach in Waco. Families took hayride tours of the Boys Ranch, participated in arts and crafts activities, climbed the Alpine Tower, and played outdoor games.
“The help we received from the cadets was incredible,” said Tim Price, director of outdoor education and recreation at MCH. “They took on projects at one of our campgrounds that would have taken a single person a whole day to do. We are so grateful for their contributions.”
Boys Ranch Master Planning Underway
The Board of Directors of Methodist Children’s Home unanimously approved a staff proposal to begin a master planning process for the MCH Boys Ranch. This action comes after the success of the Building Hope capital campaign that added 11 new state-of-the-art homes and other important upgrades to the Waco campus.
“The response to the Building Hope campaign is a testimony to how our amazing supporters respond when MCH makes the case for how we are called to move forward,” said Trey Oakley, MCH president and CEO. “I know this will be the same outcome when we determine what opportunities we have at the Boys Ranch.”
Initial discussions call for building new homes at the Boys Ranch that are modeled after floorplans used on the Waco campus. The floorplans foster increased supervision, common areas for relationship building between staff and residents and incorporate trauma-informed elements into all areas of the homes. The master plan will also include a thorough evaluation of existing structures and a determination of all that is needed moving forward.
“We have an opportunity and responsibility to do our part to ensure the Boys Ranch continues its legacy of care first started in 1971,” Oakley said. “Our goal will be to produce a plan giving MCH flexibility to be our best for those who need us now and in the future at this location.”
MCH program leadership has been diligent in researching how MCH can be even more effective in meeting the needs of children, youth and families seeking residential placements. The proposed upgrades at the Boys Ranch that will come from the master planning process will further equip MCH in these efforts.
“I am so proud of the way we care for people and serve clients through our current programming,” said Traci Wagner, vice president for programs. “Our leadership team continues to feel a burden in answering the call to do more. This commitment from our staff and Board of Directors will certainly help us do that in the days to come.”
MCH staff sees this as a first and important step in revamping the Boys Ranch. More details on the Boys Ranch master plan will be shared in future issues of Sunshine.
MCH Trains Bexar County Ad Litems
Representatives from Methodist Children’s Home shared specialized material during a recent ad litem training put on by Bexar County.
Melissa Olmos, director of MCH Family Outreach in San Antonio; Marissa Smith, program administrator; and John Warren, community engagement and training specialist, provided training on TBRI – Connected Caregivers during the session. An ad litem is someone appointed by the court as a guardian or attorney to represent the best interest of a child or be their legal representative. The training was tailored for an audience of individuals working in the court system.
The MCH presentation discussed the services MCH provides to the families the court members serve, an outline of TBRI and its professional applications.
“Meredith Chacon, one of our MCH Board members, connected us to Bexar County for the purpose of sharing TBRI and ways to apply TBRI principles in the legal community,” said Traci Wagner, vice president for programs. “TBRI is valuable and useful in any setting where humans interact, including the court system where life-changing decisions are made. What a testimony of hope and healing from Bexar County to welcome in these principles and skills.”
MCH Residential Supervisor Receives ‘Staff of the Year’ Award
Stephanie Cummings, residential supervisor on the MCH Waco campus, received the award for “General Residential Operation Staff of the Year” from the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services (TACFS). General Residential Operation, or GRO, is the term used by Texas state licensing for residential childcare facilities like MCH.
“It is such a joy to see Stephanie receive this honor,” said Taneequa Newton, MCH director of residential services. “Stephanie is so genuine in her approach to her work and she goes the extra mile in everything she does. She nurtures her staff and the youth in her care so well, and they love her in return.”
MCH President and CEO Trey Oakley said Cummings “is such an asset to MCH and an example of the dedicated and committed staff members at MCH.”
Cummings was recognized at the TACFS Administrators Conference held in October in Round Rock. A group of MCH leaders attended the conference, which connects approximately 1,400 child welfare professionals with the latest information and training on effectively delivering services.
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