2016: A Year of Great Impacts

At The United Methodist Children’s Home, we envision a world where every child is raised in a loving, compassionate, and nurturing home.  With your generous support in 2016, we came so much closer to achieving that goal.  Whether you are a volunteer, donor, foster parent, or simply helped spread the word of our work, we are grateful!


2016 Impacts Web Graphic



Join us in 2017 and together, we can help even more children and families in need.
Foster Your family can provide that loving home that thousands of kids long for. Take advantage of the joy that comes from fostering through the Children’s Home. We will support you every step of the way.


Volunteer You have talents and compassion. The Children’s Home has meaningful ways for you to make a difference.


Give Consider becoming a monthly sustainer, ensuring the Children’s Home can grow to serve more kids in crisis. Check out creative ways to give including asset-based gifts and in-kind gifts.



Press Release: The United Methodist Children’s Home Board of Trustees Decides to Serve More Children and Families in Crisis; Votes to Sell Organization’s Decatur Campus


January 17, 2017 at 7 p.m. ET



John P. Cerniglia, Vice President, Development

404.327.5867  office



The United Methodist Children’s Home Board of Trustees Decides to Serve More Children and Families in Crisis; Votes to Sell Organization’s Decatur Campus


Decatur, Ga. – Responding to the growing needs of the children and families it serves, on Jan. 17 the Board of Trustees of The United Methodist Children’s Home made the decision to expand and accelerate its impact across North Georgia by voting with overwhelming approval to sell its Decatur property.


Rev. Hal Jones, the UMCH President and CEO, put the decision into perspective.


“We appreciate the UMCH Board’s thoughtful consideration of multiple options regarding the future of The United Methodist Children’s Home campus in Decatur,” said Jones.  “I am energized by our Board’s decision, which embraces the changing landscape in providing services to children and families while empowering UMCH to deliver on, and continuously improve its important mission.”


An informed process; a decision made with precedent


The Jan. 17 UMCH decision was informed by precedent. The organization’s DeKalb property originally featured 226 acres, but over the years and in response to evolving needs, 149 acres were sold as the focus of the ministry changed.


During recent months, UMCH leadership embarked on thoughtful research and consideration of how and where the organization might expand its ability to deliver on the organization’s mission and to keep up with, or anticipate, the times in which the organization now operates and ministers.


The Board’s decision is the result of careful evaluation of many options, and their decision will set a course for an exciting future while increasing UMCH’s ability to achieve its mission – to restore children and families from trauma through Jesus Christ.


Unlocking resources while facing an endless challenge


This decision will unlock the capital needed to reach more children and families in crisis. Sample estimates indicate funds from the sale will help to greatly expand local, community-based ministries in towns and cities across North Georgia, in partnership with many more churches.


Though initial projections reviewed by the board, UMCH estimates the organization will serve approximately 63 more people every year, in perpetuity, as a result of the decision. UMCH has pledged its firm commitment to provide high-quality, uninterrupted service to all its clients, including those living on its campus.


Currently, there are 13,000 Georgia children who have been separated from their families, and who are in State custody due to neglect, abuse or abandonment; this is a number that has doubled over the last five years.


Every week, when called on by the State, UMCH must currently turn away 30 children who need a loving foster home, because of limited resources. And each week families at risk of homelessness are turned away for the same reason.


“The decision will help optimize our ability to address these challenges and reach more children and families in need,” said Jones.


Preserving a legacy more than 140 years in the making


The UMCH Board is committed to honoring the organization’s historic legacy of service, and as such the group continuously explores new and more effective ways to bring needed resources to children and families in need. It was in that spirit that the vote reached its result.


The decision honors the legacy of the United Methodist Children’s Home in two ways. First, it applies resources to the greatest need – to serve children and families; and second, the decision includes an aim by the Board to retain a small parcel of the DeKalb property to honor the historic home of the UMCH.


“As we look to the future with our residents, alumni, staff, neighbors and others in the community, there are, no doubt,  a lot of questions that still need to be answered,” said Jones. “The Board’s vote was just one step on a journey forward, and we will continue working collaboratively with all of those who have embraced our mission, and have partnered with us in accomplishing it.”


“No specific buyer or plan exists for property to be sold or retained, and we look forward to collectively shaping the future of land that has been enjoyed and valued by so many in our community,” added Jones.


“I could not be more proud of UMCH’s history, the impact of our current work and ministry, and the enormously positive effect this decision will have on so many more people in our future,” said Jones. “Too many organizations tend to balk when the values they espouse are tested, and our Board didn’t hesitate when faced with the opportunity to operationalize our values of agility, embracing change and continuous improvement, and loving people.”


No specific timeline for the sale is in place. The UMCH encourages anyone interested to share ideas or questions by calling 404-327-5867. Additional information is available at




About The United Methodist Children’s Home:


The United Methodist Children’s Home was established in 1871 in Norcross to care for children orphaned during the Civil War, and has evolved to serve children and families in a ‘continuum of care’ mode. It envisions a world where ‘all children are raised in a loving, compassionate and nurturing home.’ And it works every day toward its mission ‘to restore children and families from trauma through Jesus Christ.’ Since 1973, UMCH has cared for over 6,000 children in safe and loving foster-care homes; it provides safe housing for at-risk young adults and prepares them to make positive life decisions and become productive, independent, citizens; and it strengthens and preserves at-risk families through safe housing and support services. Today, UMCH serves over 245 children and adults a day in 40 counties across North Georgia, and it delivered over 56,000 days of care in 2016.  For more information visit


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UMCH Family Housing: Holiday Inspiration From the Gibson and Hector Families

Photography courtesy of John Haugaard

Meet the Gibson Family


“We couldn’t have imaged this holiday season being as happy as it is.”


Mr. and Mrs. Gibson and their three young children – two girls and a boy, could never have imagined this Christmas would turn out like it has. When they knew they needed a little help, the Gibsons did their research and found themselves welcomed at The United Methodist Children’s Home Family Housing program.


“We have the most amazing yard where the kids feel free to play,” said Mrs. Gibson.


Not only are the Gibsons thankful for having a safe place to stay at The Children’s Home, they have graciously been able to take advantage of other supports and services as well.


“The Christmas shopping event hosted on Dec. 10 was a real God-send,” said Mrs. Gibson. “They provided more than I could have dreamed of, not to mention entertainment for the kids and visits with Santa. And – I couldn’t believe it – our case manager even found an American Girl doll for our daughter!”


Since they’ve moved in, the Gibsons have been very busy with the monthly life skills workshops provided as a part the Family Housing program. They have been able to work with their case manager, Brooke Babbitt, to improve their credit and pay off past debts that hindered them from being able to obtain housing on their own. Additionally, the Family Housing program has provided the Gibsons with the opportunity to develop a budget and begin saving money for when they are ready to transition into independent housing.


“It is an honor for me to work with our families and just a delight to see them grow, succeed, and then to become independent once again,” said Babbitt. “Their successes are our successes.”


While working towards their goals, the Gibsons have attended social activities UMCH provides its families as well. They attended Fam Fest in October, and a Hawks basketball game courtesy of the team. “We have learned so much, but are also getting to spend time together and having fun as a family,” Mrs. Gibson added.


Mr. Gibson is simply grateful that The Children’s Home has made their lives. Better than it was, in his own words. “We’ve gone through some hardship this year, and couldn’t have imaged this holiday season being as happy as it is.”


The Gibsons, this holiday season, would like everyone to know that “this program really is such a great support and wonderful opportunity to give you the time and the breather to get back on your feet, and feel comfortable while you’re doing it.”


We at The Children’s Home cannot express how grateful we are to be able to support families like the Gibsons. There’s no better time than now to give to The Children’s Home, when our end-of-year matching campaign will double your gift. Please go online to help families like the Gibsons transform their lives. Your gift this holiday season will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $96,750 through Dec. 31.



Meet The Hector Family


“Being here is my Christmas gift.”


The United Methodist Children’s Home welcomed Precious Hector and her three daughters, ages 6, 9, and 12, to its Family Housing program early December.


“My grandmother always said that women are the first iteration of God that our children know,” says Ms. Hector. “Everything we say, breathe, create — they learn from us. I teach my daughters how important it is to pray and have a strong relationship with God. And what I have instilled in them, they have given back to me.”


The faith that surrounds them has already been the greatest gift Ms. Hector has given to her children, as well as what they return to her. “There are times when I may get a little down and troubled about a situation, and it’s one of my daughters that reassures me with, ‘Oh mom, we’re going to be alright. God loves you.”


Though the family only moved to The Children’s Home on December 1, Ms. Hector has jumped right in to the support services offered through the Family Housing program. She’s already developed a budget and financial plan to improve her credit with her case manager, Brooke Babbitt, who, Ms. Hector says, “is just awesome.”


“She’s real. It’s rare that you meet someone that is so real. And for me to be able to talk to someone that really listens and understands what I’ve been through is priceless.”


Ms. Hector is happy to share that she was just hired for her second part-time job at a hotel, where she has been working in the evening while training to be a tax preparer during the day. She’s been a tax preparer for the last few years, but has now passed the certification that will hopefully turn that work into a full-time job. Her hotel supervisor has suggested that she may have qualifications for management there, as well, so it is promising that opportunities are opening up for Ms. Hector and her family.


As for being at The Children’s Home at Christmas time, Ms. Hector says she feels blessed. “I feel very favored by God. It’s been a rough year, and now I have been given the opportunity to get myself together financially, spiritually and physically.


“Being here is my Christmas gift.”


There’s no better time than now to help families like the Hectors transform their lives. If you go online through Dec. 31 and make a donation to The Children’s Home, your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $96,750.

Linda Byars and The Children’s Home: A Christmas match made in heaven

Group of human palms on all sides of a cut out house diagram with setting sun coming through window over water

After her husband passed away in 2010, Linda Byars faced the question many of us will face one day: what to do now? With a passion for helping children in need, she thought of retiring from her job as a labor arbitrator – which requires travel – and become a foster parent. After praying about it, this life-long Christian decided she was better suited to stay at her job, one that afforded her to keep working after an age when most people retire, and instead find a way to help struggling families stay together in a Christian, nurturing environment. She began donating to The United Methodist Children’s Home (UMCH).


“God has given me time on this earth, energy, and work I love,” says Linda. “To be perfectly honest, my work is a lot easier than being a foster parent! But being a donor allows me to be a part of  The United Methodist Children’s Home ministry.”


Indeed Linda is a part of our ministry. This year, she has given a gift that will impact  numerous families. Because this time of year can be so special, but also so difficult for some families, Linda offered to match, dollar for dollar, donations coming in to The Children’s Home for the Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday season.


“Linda is truly an angel,” said UMCH Vice President of Development John Cerniglia. “Thanks to her dedication to The Children’s Home, her generous, Christian heart, and her example to the larger UMCH donor community, we raised more than  $25,000 during this very important giving season.”


Linda says she knows she is blessed to be able to get up every day and do meaningful work that she enjoys and not need the income from that work. “I know that The Children’s Home can use my income better than I can. I am grateful for their work, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.”


Won’t you consider joining Linda in giving to The Children’s Home? If you make a donation before Dec. 31, your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $94,000 due to the kindness of a few special and anonymous donors.

As we celebrate Christ’s birth, we celebrate a church that gives to The Children’s Home with each baptism

The congregation of Sugarloaf United Methodist Church in Gwinnett County holds, on average, 15 to 20 baptisms a year. And while that in and of itself is a celebration for the life of the church, it is also an incredible blessing for The Children’s Home.


That’s because the congregation at Sugarloaf recognizes that while most babies who are baptized in their church sanctuary are surrounded by family and loved ones, there are other children who are in need of the love and care that is provided through the ministry of The Children’s Home. So they take up a collection after each baptism.


Baptismal reflections at Sugarloaf UMC. Pictures courtesy of Sugarloaf UMC.


“This is our opportunity to support the work of The Children’s Home and make a lasting difference,” said Rev. Matthew Mitchell, who enthusiastically embraced the tradition started by Sugarloaf UMC’s former pastor, Rev. Stuart Greene. “We only sponsor local ministries, and this is a very significant one for us. Being able to give regularly to The Children’s Home is very much a part of who we are.”


Started at Smyrna First UMC, Rev. Greene began this regular offering for The Children’s Home at Sugarloaf UMC in 2008. “By encouraging people to give to children in need in honor of the baby being baptized, we avoided taking ‘yet another offering’ which people grow weary of,” said Rev. Greene. “No one passed the plate; there were no commitment forms to sign. Anybody who wanted to give any amount would simply walk to the front before leaving the sanctuary and place the money or check on the altar. Many of the donations came from extended family members, who may or may not be members of the church, but who want to ensure their baby is adequately honored.”


Today, offerings taken after a baptism at the church total $500 to $1,000. “It’s always exciting to watch little kids to elderly folks, long-time members and new members visibly respond so emotionally and enthusiastically while they are putting their donation in the collection basket,” added Rev. Mitchell. “We know through these donations, and especially because of the great stewardship of UMCH, we are making a real impact.”


And yet the church’s connection to The Children’s Home goes deeper still. Currently Sugarloaf UMC has families who have fostered through The Children’s Home, according to Rev. Mitchell, and in one case, the fostering led to adoption.


Says Rev. Dave Allen Grady, Director of Church Relations at The Children’s Home, “Baptism is such a powerfully meaningful time for a family, both the family of the person being baptized and the family of the church. The Children’s Home is incredibly lucky that Sugarloaf UMC extends their family’s blessings to our family.”

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