The Methodist Home mends broken childhoods

9/2/2011

By Kara Witherow, Editor

Trevor Rose turned 14 the day he came to The Methodist Home for Children and Youth.

Removed from his home at 13 because of neglect and abuse, Rose was shuffled between group homes before finally being placed at The Methodist Home’s St. Marys campus.

Unsure of what to expect when he arrived, Rose was greeted with a birthday party, complete with gifts, a cake and ice cream.

Because it was his birthday, the Methodist Home staff went above and beyond to make Rose feel celebrated and special, but scenes like this aren’t unusual and aren’t just limited to birthdays.  Every child who enters The Methodist Home is greeted and welcomed with a party.

“We understand that this is a very anxiety-filled time for them,” said Devon Loggins, regional director for The Methodist Home’s St. Marys campus.  “They’re fearful and they don’t know what the experience will be. We don’t know the depth of the experiences they’ve had … it’s a very scary time to move to a new place with new people.  The first thing we do at The Methodist Home is throw a welcome party.” 

Most children who arrive at The Methodist Home have been in five to 10 prior placements, so making them feel welcome, secure and loved from day one is something The Methodist Home staff does to help establish and reinforce the family environment that is found at each group home.

In addition to a welcome party, each child is given five gifts when they arrive at The Methodist Home: a stuffed bear, a backpack and school supplies, a basket full of new linens and towels, an age-appropriate Bible and a handmade quilt.

“When they choose their quilt, Dr. Rumford tells them that it’s handmade and that someone loved them enough to make it for them,” said Dr. Derek McAleer, vice president for development and church relations for The Methodist Home.  “He says, ‘this quilt is handmade, but you are God made. You are precious to us, and are as unique as this quilt, and just as special, and we are so glad you are here.’”

With six sites across South Georgia – in Macon, Americus, Valdosta, St. Marys, Columbus and Waverly Hall – The Methodist Home for Children and Youth has served more than 10,000 abused and neglected children and young people in its 155-year history.

More than just a home for children, it is also home to a host of children and family programs and services. 

“One of the reasons we’ve built the cottages in these small communities in South Georgia is that we’ve tried to be in places where there aren’t other services so we became a place where folks in need can turn for help,” Dr. McAleer said.  “It’s better for a child if they’re served closer to other family members so you can work to maintain relationships.”

Children ages 7 to 17 are admitted to The Methodist Home. They live eight to 10 to a cottage, and staff work in three shifts so someone is there around the clock.

The Methodist Home is not simply a place for children to have a bed and meals.  The ministry provides counseling, therapy, independent living skills training and more.

“They really taught me a lot,” Rose said.  “They’ve been very compassionate to me. They’ve helped me set goals for myself and taught me how to be my own man and how to take responsibility for myself and my actions.  They taught me how to be a responsible adult.”

Rose, who graduated from Kingsland’s Camden County High School with a 3.4 grade point average, has had, by his own account, his share of ups and downs. But the first generation college student has succeeded in and out of the classroom.

He became a leader in his cottage and won a public speaking award during his senior year.  A local Ford dealership granted him an internship to help him in his efforts to become an automotive technician.

“He’s a success story that’s still in the making,” Loggins said of Rose.  “His tenacity and resiliency – those are the things we just reinforced in him that he already had.  When we talk about a success story, it’s not just a success story for us, it’s a success story for him. He’s the one that made all of that happen.  He had the drive and the desire and ambition to do it – it was just our part to make sure he had everything he needed to make his dreams come true.”

Rose had to grow up fast and never really had much of a childhood. 

“It was hard for me to be a kid,” said Rose, now a freshman at North Georgia Technical College in Clarkesville.  He credits the love, support and encouragement he was given at The Methodist Home for helping him achieve his goals and break his family cycle of abuse and neglect.

“The Lord placed him in our lives and us in his life to be part of each other’s families,” Loggins said.  “The Home has provided the stability and encouragement he needed to thrive.  He is a blueprint of how to take the circumstances that he’s been through and not let them dictate what his future will be.”

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Every local church in South Georgia is encouraged to receive a special offering on Sunday, September 18 to support the ministry of The Methodist Home for Children and Youth.  To donate and to learn more about The Methodist Home and its ministry, visit www.themethodisthome.org.