UMCH youth go bowling for “ILP Night Out”

ILP youth go bowling


Each month, the youth in our Independent Living Program get to go on an “ILP Night Out.” Our Activities staff plan the events, but the youth pick what they want to do. This month it was bowling, and everyone had a great time getting off campus and hanging out together.


ILP youth bowling


“Everyone had a good time and was given a time to be themselves outside of the campus. Both staff and students enjoyed being together,” said Dane Martin, Activities Supervisor at UMCH.

Big changes underway at UMCH

Big changes are underway at the United Methodist Children’s Home. The change is bittersweet as we see the end of one of the longest-running programs UMCH has offered, yet we anticipate exciting new directions and paths for our ministry to children and families.


The biggest change on campus is the phasing out of our Group Care program – our program for 12-18 year olds living in cottages on our campus. Many factors played into this difficult decision by our Board of Trustees, but ultimately it came down to: “How can we best serve children and continue to fulfill our mission of providing redemptive, healing services to children and families?”


The great news, however, is that we are serving more children than ever before through our Independent Living and Transitional Living programs, as well as in Short-term Family Housing. ILP and TLP prepare older youth in foster care for lives of independence, teaching them the valuable skills they need to be on their own. Short-term Family Housing offers housing, budget and employment counseling, and general support to families going through a financial crisis, keeping them together under one roof.


We are also seeing the growth of our Family Preservation Services – like family counseling, parenting classes and financial aid – allowing us to prevent the breakup of families and put them on a path of healing. And our Family Foster Care program is continuing to serve children throughout north Georgia in safe, loving homes.


We are in a visioning process to determine if new programs will be added to the continuum of services we offer to children and families at UMCH. We will keep you posted as those decisions are made.


If you have any questions about the changes underway at UMCH, don’t hesitate to contact either Richard Puckett or Alina Crews. You may also find helpful this sheet of frequently asked questions about the changes at UMCH.


We are truly excited about the promising things on the horizon at the United Methodist Children’s Home – allowing us to continue to offer children and families redemptive, healing services in Jesus’ name.

When a sofa is more than “just” a sofa

“Ask, and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8


What is the significance of delivering a sofa to a home? The answer: “Reunification and Family Preservation.”


Woman sits on her new sofa


As you can see from this young lady’s smile, she is thankful for our sofa. She recently enrolled in our Active Parenting Class and was mandated by the court to do so. Families that have children in state custody have case plans outlining specific reunification goals. These goals mandate that within a certain time period, the family must be able to maintain employment, participate in counseling, and, most of all, be able to provide a clean, safe and stable home environment for the children. This means that families have to have adequate bedding and other furniture in the household. In this case, our sofa found a new home, which will in time have not just the parents but the whole family hanging out together on the sofa.


This family had previously rented furniture, which put them deeper in debt. They gave up the rented sofa for our sofa so they could pay for other mandated services outlined in the case plan. A good trade don’t you think?


-Mike LaChapelle
Supervisor, Northwest District Office of UMCH

UMCH youth help lead a Vacation Bible School

Toward the end of the summer break, our youth had an amazing opportunity to lead a week of Vacation Bible School for children in the Reynoldstown community. Twelve residents and five leaders from UMCH helped lead the program for kindergartners through sixth graders. Our youth led the large group songs and either led or helped lead at each of the stations that were set up for the Reynoldstown children.


Dane Martin, Activities Supervisor at UMCH, is incredibly proud of the leadership that UMCH youth demonstrated over the week:


“All of our youth from UMCH were ready and willing to step up. They started strong, knowing exactly how to run their stations and encouraged each of the children to participate. The first day was a little tough and tiring, but once Tuesday came around, everyone was just as ready and soon took upon the responsibility to arrive early and help pack the van before we left.


“Even with no air conditioning in part of the house and sometimes very rambunctious kids, everyone from UMCH did an excellent job at leading, finding a need and helping, and creating relationships with the younger children. The days were long, but there wasn’t any complaining on the daily trip back to campus. Instead there were conversations about which kids they loved being with the most and how they couldn’t wait to get back the next day. I was so proud of our youth and impressed in their leadership, understanding that they were role models for these children and they didn’t disappoint them. We would be drenched in sweat, laughing and reminding each other of funny situations that happened that day.


“In having such good attitudes and lively spirits, our youth at UMCH showed and shared God’s love with children they didn’t know. Our youth transformed into servant leaders, and whether they knew it or not they were following the example of Christ: loving their neighbor. It was an exciting week where love was at the center, and it was full of laughter, sweat, tears, and a new heart for others. As we left, many of our youth from UMCH wanted to come back the next week and continue working with them. Everyone’s dedication to the week, pouring themselves into the children, showed that this was as important for our youth as it was for the Reynoldstown children.”


Youth and children play at VBS

Our youth play outside with the Reynoldstown children


UMCH staff Hillary Peete helps out at one of the VBS "stations"

UMCH staff member Hillary Peete helps out at one of the VBS “stations”

A life lesson from an emu burger

A local middle school counselor referred a student, John*, and his family to our office for counseling education. John’s father is deceased, so it’s just him and his mom in the household. One day John asked if I would come to his school and have lunch with him. John’s mother was supportive of his invitation.


I checked with the school counselor upon arriving at the school and was escorted to the lunchroom serving line with John and his classmates. John directed me to a table where his friends were seated, and he introduced me as his mentor.


As I took my first bite of my hamburger, it immediately reminded me of my middle school days – it tasted the same, back then and now. I noticed that John’s friends were not eating their burgers. When they saw me taking my second bite, they said, “Ugh! Nasty! How can you eat that?”


To be honest, I was thinking the same thing, but I wanted to be a positive role model for the children by eating lunch.


I responded, “This is really good; it’s the best emu burger that I have ever eaten.”


John’s friends said, “What’s an emu burger?”


I explained that an emu was a large bird similar to an ostrich that lives in Australia, down under.


They responded, “Australia, huh? Cool.”


I then noticed all the kids wolfing their burgers down. My thought was, “Well, I was able to get the kids to eat their lunch, that’s good.”


John seemed very pleased that I came to have lunch with him and his friends. The next day I received a call from the middle school counselor.


She asked if I had a good lunch with John, and then she said, “What did you tell John and his friends during lunch? I had several parents who have called the office inquiring why their children were being fed emu burgers at school. After I explained, the counselor replied, “Good job; you were able to get some of those children to eat their lunch!”


The power of suggestion and the comments we make to children do have an impact on them. By the way, genuine emu burgers are delicious.


-Mike LaChapelle
Supervisor, Northwest District Office of UMCH


*Name changed to protect client’s privacy.

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