MHC Real World

Remember your first paycheck? How shocking it was to see the deductions? How little was left after paying rent?

Welcome to MHC Real World – a simulated life experience. Think of it as a crash course in adulting, a daylong adventure designed to give teens a taste of what it’s like to be all grown up. But not just any teens. These are kids who, for the most part, will be leaping into adulthood without the luxury of a family safety net. For them, the day is an eye-opening experience.

MHC Real World is September 28, 9am to 4pm, at St. Marks United Methodist Church in Raleigh.

Contact Erica Burgess for details or reservations: eburgess@mhfc.org


A Place of His Own

There was a promise Jarel’s mother always made to him, growing up. She’d say, “One day we’ll get our own place to live.”

But she was an alcoholic and never delivered on that promise, even when she had the money, so Jarel slept on the sofas and spare beds of other peoples’ homes. By age 15, he had nothing; he felt like a nothing. He was failing in school and he made a mistake – the biggest of his life. He stole a car.

That mistake brought him to us and it might well have saved his life because this is what we saw right away: Jarel has a debilitating learning disorder, and he can’t do basic math or read beyond an elementary-grade level. The inability to keep up in class and the chaos of his life had pointed him to the streets – a place that preyed on his vulnerabilities.

Jarel was trying to fit in somewhere as life was leaving him behind. “He’s the sweetest kid; there’s not a mean bone in his body,” says Tiffany Powell, program manager for our boys’ transitional living home. “But he’s gullible, and he’ll do what you tell him to do. If he gets around bad people, he’ll do what they say.”

When he came to us, Jarel had no understanding of nutrition or cooking – he thought he could live off the McDonald’s dollar menu. He had no familiarity with table manners. He didn’t know how to adjust his behavior when time and place called for it. He had to learn the mundane rules of life and skills for his own survival – how to apply for a job and be reliable; how to save money, budget, and write a check.

Today Jarel works in a fast food restaurant. He is struggling to pass the GED with his learning disability and years of education missing, but he’s trying, and if he succeeds he might go for a welding certification.

Later this year when Jarel turns 18, we’ll have to send him out – but we won’t let him go. We’ll help him get an apartment with furniture and a roommate, a place where he can catch the bus to work, and we’ll stay in touch to keep him accountable.

It won’t be a lot, but it’ll be a place of his own, and in Jarel’s experience that’s a huge step forward. Life has never been better.


Life 101: Lessons by Lovey

She shows kids a wider world in books and theater

Imagine for a moment that you are the teacher at one of our multipurpose homes. The kids who live here are between the ages of 10 and 17 and they all have multiple juvenile offenses. As the teacher, you know they need academic help – but they also need life help. Many of them are in trouble because they’ve never been shown a life worth living. So, what do you do?

If you’re Lovey Steinert, you show them compassion and you show them a life beyond their back door. You introduce them to books and theater – even when they grumble about it – because there’s something magical about seeing a story come to life on the stage, and it often takes them by surprise.

“Some of them get really, really into it,” Lovey says. “One boy in class was reading the part of Jonathan in Arsenic and Old Lace with this deep, intense voice. He was better than the actor we saw in the play.”

Lovey knew early in her teaching career that she wanted to work with these kids – the ones with the “problem” label. She could see the insecurity in their behaviors and she knew the ways childhood had hurt them. Something in them reminds her of herself as a kid growing up without her own mother, an only child slamming doors, blasting her radio, and escaping into books.

But she had an advantage – a father who gave her stability and love – and some of our kids don’t get that at home.

“We just read the quote from To Kill a Mockingbird, when Atticus says you don’t understand a person until you crawl into his skin. I guess that sums up why I do it,” Lovey says. “I put myself in the place of the kids and connect with them to be the support they need.”

WHAT IS A MULTIPURPOSE HOME? A group home for kids (ages 10-17) whose repeat offenses are leading them toward more serious involvement in the juvenile justice or adult corrections system


Good begins in her kitchen

A Benevolent Table

While others her age were kicking back with a Teen Beat or Sassy magazine, 13-year-old Jill Sergison was studying Martha Stewart Living and Miss Manners. Entertaining is in her DNA; cooking is her love language.

So it makes perfect sense that hospitality is her go-to for giving back.

Every few months, Jill opens her Durham home to paying guests for a cooking lesson, a shared meal, and an opportunity to do good. The dinner series is called A Benevolent Table, and it raises money for charities including Methodist Home for Children.

“A Benevolent Table is about coming together, learning how to make delicious food, having some drinks, making new friends, enjoying a delicious dinner,” Jill says. “But it’s also about using this bounty and community for good.”

The idea came to Jill after her husband, Peter, was diagnosed with stage IV non-Hodgkin lymphoma a couple of years ago. The news was devastating to their family of four – but the response from friends, and even people Jill didn’t know that well, was immediate and overwhelming.

Within hours, they loaded her countertops and refrigerator with meals that kept coming for months.

The love and care represented by all that food – shared with her family at its most vulnerable time – was an enormous comfort. And while sharing a meal with friends or strangers has always felt like an act of faith to her, A Benevolent Table has created a way for Jill to give thanks and give back by doing something she loves.

HAVE AN IDEA? Writing a check is great, but sometimes it’s more fun to give as a group or through a project you love. Talk to us at giving@mhfc.org.


Myles & Mia

Marc Ridel Creative

MYLES, AGE 8
MIA, AGE 6

A few years ago, they might have laughed at the idea. They definitely would have called it crazy.

But Tabitha and David couldn’t see then what they see now: How their hearts and home would stretch to make room for five children under the age of 9.

Tabitha and David adopted their first two children in September – a brother-sister pair, 8-year-old Myles and 6-year-old Mia. And when September rolls around again, they expect to have adopted another sibling group – by then ages 6, 5, and 4.

Let that sink in.

In the span of one year, this couple is adopting five children, ages 8, 6, 6, 5, and 4. That’s a 3rd grader, two 1st graders, a kindergartener, and a preschooler. In eight years, four of them will be in middle school at the same time, with one ahead in high school.

Myles and Mia came to this Franklin County foster home in May 2016 after their mother left them with friends and never came back. Social services tried twice to place them with relatives, first in Wilmington and then in Georgia, but neither option worked out. By the time it became clear Myles and Mia had no other family to help, Tabitha and David were parenting a second group of siblings already on track for adoption.

So the decision was made, no discussion needed. Tabitha and David would adopt all five of their foster children – Myles and Mia, plus three others we’ll introduce in the fall


Halie, Ryan, & Madison

 

Lorreen and Dan and their two sons were relocating to North Carolina. They were house hunting and, like all homebuyers, had a checklist of features. The house had to accommodate their mobility – both sons have spina bifida and wheelchairs are their primary mode of transportation. And it had to be big. They were a family of four, but Lorreen and Dan had decided to become foster parents.

When they found a house they liked, they prayed together and looking up, they both just knew. Dan spoke first. “We’re going to live here. And we’re going to get three kids.” Lorreen responded, “Two girls and a boy.” And so their story begins.

HALIE, AGE 15
RYAN, AGE 12
MADISON, AGE 11

The kids are arm wrestling in the front room. When Halie is pinned, she calls out “Whoopsie-daisy!” and her laughter fills the air. Anyone who has known her longer than a year knows this is nothing short of a miracle.

Lorreen and Dan met Halie two years ago when she came to their home for a one-week respite visit. They knew she had hemiparesis, or left-side weakness, a result of a congenital brain disorder and they knew this limited her ability to communicate. But they didn’t know how much pain she had.

She was terrified of Dan, all men really, because of abuse she suffered while living with her biological mother. She couldn’t regulate her emotions or make attachments. She felt loss and confusion at being separated from her home, her mother, her aunt, and two siblings. And because she could communicate none of this, she raged.

It would be great to say that Lorreen and Dan loved her through it, but that doesn’t tell the full story. They loved her, yes, but they also gave her a safe home, medical interventions, consistency, and stability. She improved, then thrived. And it was at that point Lorreen and Dan learned Halie had a brother and sister, each living in a different foster home.

“When I heard this,” Dan says, “I just looked at Lorreen and said, ‘We can’t let these kids separate.’ ” Soon they were visiting one weekend a month; then two. They would play together before returning to their foster homes. Over time, the siblings became comfortable together and with Lorreen and Dan and their two sons. And then the phone rang.

“Methodist Home for Children called and asked if we would be a family to all three,” Dan says. “And I replied, ‘Abso-fricking-lutely.’ ”

Last December, the teens were adopted in a ceremony uniquely styled for this family. Halie brought her baby doll, who was also officially adopted – and they unapologetically laughed and cheered. They had  come a long way and were joyously committing to a lifetime of family.


Foster & Adopt

Wake, Pitt, and Wilson counties | Are you interested in fostering or adopting?

We have information sessions to answer your questions about fostering and adopting through Methodist Home for Children.

RSVP is required: Call 888.305.4321, ext.6, or email FosterandAdopt@mhfc.org.

On the agenda:
•  What it means to be a foster parent.
•  What the training & licensing process is all about.
•  What types of children are referred to our foster care / adoption program.
•  Dates for our next MAPP training class.

July
•  July 22, Greenville; 6:30 to 8 p.m.

August
•  Aug. 8, Raleigh; 6:30 to 8 p.m.
•  Aug. 19, Greenville; 6:30 to 8 p.m.

September
•  Sept. 16, Greenville; 6:30 to 8 p.m.

October
•  Oct. 3, Greenville; 6:30 to 8 p.m.
•  Oct. 17, Raleigh; 6:30 to 8 p.m.

November
•  Nov. 14, Raleigh; 6:30 to 8 p.m.

December
•  Dec. 12, Raleigh; 6:30 to 8 p.m.
•  Dec. 16, Greenville; 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Remember to RSVP!


The child I can’t forget: Katherine

One student here at the Jordan Center that I’ll never forget was in my child’s class. He had a backpack and a feeding tube that he wore – a continuous feed – and he wore this backpack all day. Like he was this really super, happy, loving, wonderful kid who had such an impact on his whole class. And the impact he had on me was watching my own child experience inclusion and differences. And when he finally didn’t have that backpack anymore, and I said something to my daughter about what a great thing that was, and she had no idea what I was talking about. Like the difference just meant absolutely nothing to her. He was her friend and he was in their room and nothing else mattered. And that is the beautiful thing about life at the Jordan Center.

See posts like this on Instagram @MHC_family


A Place in My Heart

Tyler won first place (10th grade) for his poem in the Everyday Heroes art competition sponsored by the Onslow Commission for Persons with Disabilities and the city of Jacksonville.

Check out his poem and leave a comment for him in the field below.

I knew a boy who wasn’t shy.
His name is Anthony Smith.
He was a talented guy.
He was a great person to be friends with.

He had Asperger’s and followed few rules.
He wanted to throw his work away.
Although he used his coping tools.
One of his tools was to pray.

He had a hard time in school.
He could not read or write.
We both found school not cool.
in my heart, I believed he was very bright.

He was always nice and clean.
He corrected me on a lot of test.
It was my brightness he had seen.
He truly always was the best.

He always motivated me to do my best.
He was always polite.
I always think about him before I rest.
He taught me wrong from right.

Anthony was an inspiring friend.
He taught me how to be more giving.
He lived close to my house, just around the bend.
I will always respect him, although he’s not living.

 


My introduction to foster care: Lorreen

My son went over to a sleepover with a friend. I dropped him off and drove all the way home before he called to say, ‘the mom was just arrested.’ And I was like, ‘what?’ And he said, ‘yeah, and they left all the kids here with the grandma.’ So I went to the house and the younger kids were crying, there was a lot of stuff there that I never saw before. There was no food in the house and it looked like everything just fell apart. Water main broke so it was flooded and I’m sitting there amidst this mess and my chest hurts because I don’t know what to do in this situation. I’d never been in this situation before. So I just told the grandma, ‘We’re going to take the kids for a sleepover.’ She was already upset because her daughter had been arrested, so the last thing she needed were four kids to watch. So we brought them all to the house and we fed them. That was my introduction to foster care. It was one of those life moment decisions. Foster care was never on my radar. Ever. That was over 10 years ago. I reunited with those kids a couple of years ago. They call me the ‘mom who took care of them.’

See posts like this on Instagram @MHC_family