Celebrating Steve Rumford's 29 years of ministry at The Children's Home
Reprinted courtesy of Gateway and The Methodist Home
After 29 years of serving as Chief Executive Officer and President of The Methodist Home for Children and Youth, Dr. Steve Rumford is retiring.
As a leader and innovator, Dr. Rumford, who came to The Methodist Home in June of 1984, has had an impact on the lives of countless children and communities in Georgia. He has left a legacy of new traditions, innovative programs, and new and renovated buildings, in addition to a host of Regional Group Homes across South Georgia. Both COA and EAGLE Accreditation has accompanied all programs since 1992. He brought many new traditions to The Methodist Home including the Christmas banquet, the awards banquet, the giving of handmade quilts to newly arrived children, spring and summer trips, encouragement of academic excellence, an open-door policy, quarterly convocations for staff, and regular presidential citations recognizing exceptional work.
Under Dr. Rumford’s leadership, in the ‘80s The Home began establishing traditions for the kids. They were established to provide healthy childhood memories to the children and youth served by The Methodist Home. These events are an important part of childhood. During a recent alumni weekend, an alumnus stated that the traditions he learned from childhood were the ones he learned at The Home and the ones he practices with his own family today.
Dr. Rumford was a guiding force behind establishing these traditions, still in practice today.
The late 1980s and into the 1990s began a period of renovation and growth for The Home. New construction and renovations came to every building on the Macon campus. Innovations such as a bike-a-thon from Florida to Maine by Ken and Ruth Logan and many generous, impactful donations helped fund these improvements. The renovation of the Jack and Phyllis Jones Social Services Building, more than anything else, affirmed The Home’s commitment to provide quality services. Completion of the Emory Gilbert Plaza gave a concrete reality to the need for ordinary spaces for interaction and fellowship, and demonstrated The Home’s dedication to providing a safe, engaging, healthy environment for our children and youth.
A different kind of growth came from the completion of the Americus Group Home, our first regional group home. This led us into an era of opening regional offices, providing services in communities where no services existed, and serving children closer to their families. Generous community support from leaders such as John and Betty Pope and Roy and Eliza Parker encouraged us to step out in faith. Growth continued with the Campus Life program expansion to Chaplain, Life Skills Coordinator, and Recreation Leader.
1994 saw a facility dedicated to new treatment for Georgia’s children with the completion of the Peyton Anderson Treatment Center. This program provided assessments for children failing their way through the system. As a direct result of the success of the Anderson Assessment Center, The Home was one of five state pilots for First Placement/Best Placement and the only residential site.
Dr. Rumford lead the charge to make sure every child was individually assessed, so that the most appropriate help could be given as soon as possible.
1996 is considered the most remarkable year in the development of facilities in The Home’s history. The Peabody Building was completely remodeled to house HOPE, GENESIS and the Auxiliary. It now serves as offices for Development and Finance. The Valdosta Group Home was dedicated in July of that year and the Valdosta Regional Office in the fall. The maintenance shop on the Macon Campus was completed in July. Gould Cottage was renovated. The Pool House was completed by Vineville United Methodist Church Methodist Men. The opening of the Price Educational Center enabled us to have greater impact as we served children. The dedication of Miss Margaret’s House capped off a remarkable year.
Dr. Rumford’s vision and leadership made it possible for The Methodist Home to serve more children, in more places, in more ways, more effectively.
The Home entered the 21st century with cutting-edge programs and services. More young people entering college led The Home to establish residences for the students when they came back on breaks and summer. Services for families were enhanced by our expansion into the W.I.H. Pitts Family Resource Center at 116 Pierce Avenue. Lighthouse for Families now operates in that space. In 2002, The Home partnered with Columbus For Kids to open the Our House collaborative in Columbus (37,000 square feet on 28 acres). The program initially housed 45 youth with a wide range of community services. In 2008, we merged with The Carpenter’s Way Ranch, relocated to a 24-acre campus on Hunter Road in Cataula, and opened Arabella in Waverly Hall for girls. Most recently, The Home began our Intensive Family Visitation Program. Parents and family can enjoy supervised visits beginning the day the child is removed from the family home, and visit frequently (2-3 times a week.) In this way we strengthen families and promote child safety.