Allison Smith doesn’t mince words describing the impact Methodist Children’s Home is making in the life of her son, Colin.
“It was by design MCH came into our lives,” she said.
Colin was 12 years old when his family relocated from Indiana to Texas in 2018. They moved again two years later during the COVID-19 pandemic. After changing districts and missing a significant amount of school due to quarantine protocols, Colin struggled academically and socially. Instead of engaging with others, he internalized his needs and began isolating himself.
“That was challenging because I missed a month of school,” Colin said. “When I returned, I could never get ahead of my work because of the time I missed.”
Colin’s mother said they knew he needed additional support and she is thankful their family discovered MCH.
“Colin needed to learn how to be vulnerable with his emotions and responsible for his role in society,” Smith said. “The pieces that led us to MCH came together at the right time.”
Colin said he is open to new experiences, so as he learned about MCH he felt like he wanted to give it a try. He is grateful for his positive experiences on the MCH Waco campus.
“It’s been cooler than I imagined,” he said. “I have my own bedroom and bathroom. We even have a game room! I’m a confident and independent person, but the staff understand who I am and allow me to be me here.”
As staff build relationships with residents, they help children discover and develop their strengths, gifts and talents. Colin has enjoyed several leadership opportunities.
“I enjoy planning events for the Student Council,” he said. “I had fun putting together a competitive game for the teachers and students at school during March Madness [college basketball tournament]. I’m a leader by nature and encouraged others to participate which was a lot of fun.”
In addition to leadership roles, Colin enjoys a variety of hobbies, including modifying and racing remote control cars. He also appreciates anime, which is computer-generated animated films. He said the art and character development in anime motivate him.
“Some of the characters have tragic backgrounds which are relatable to the kids at MCH,” he said. “The stories remind me that I could have had a very different future if it wasn’t for my family. It puts my own upbringing into perspective.”
Colin is grateful for the love and support provided by his family.
“My parents know me better than anyone,” he said. “They would describe me as a dependable and open-minded person. I want to be known as someone who doesn’t judge others. My family taught me the value of always being kind because you never know what someone is going through.”
In addition to learning important life lessons from his family, Colin knows he has experienced growth while living at MCH.
“I’m a more accepting person now because I realize all people struggle with something,” he said. “The things that are hard for me are also hard for others. I’ve also learned that when you put in the work, it will change your mindset and, if you can change your mindset, you can change your life. It’s a process, but you can do it over time.”
Colin continues to put in hard work in school and extracurricular activities. He recently completed 9th grade at the University of Texas-University Charter School on the MCH campus. In addition to the Bulldog Student Council, he played on the six-man football team and participated in the anime club.
As Colin reflects on his time at MCH, he offers advice for youth who will come to MCH in the future.
“Always set a goal for yourself,” he said. “It can be small or short-term, but have a goal. For me, the first step to achieve my goals is about taking responsibility. I’m not perfect, but I can educate myself and make extra efforts so I can have a successful career and provide for my family when I leave here.”
Martha Sandoval, MCH case manager, said Colin is eager to continue exploring new interests.
“We have seen Colin expand intellectually, socially and personally in so many ways,” Sandoval said. “We are proud of his progress and the confidence he has gained since coming to MCH.”
Colin credits MCH for helping him recover academically and teaching him the value of accountability. Above all, Colin knows he is supported and is taking ownership of who he was designed to be, one step at a time.