Some believe there is no higher calling than offering children safe haven from abuse and neglect, and support for the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home has long been a priority for Florida’s churches.
That includes the Madison Ranch, where Public Information Officer Mark Cobia said, “We serve abused, abandoned and neglected children.”
|To finish paying for the Counseling & Support Services Center pictured above, the children's home still needs to raise $65,000 from supporters who care about their mission.|
Toward that end, on May 5 about 300 people attended the dedication of a new chapel and state of the art counseling center at the facility.
The project cost approximately $1.6 million. Although the building is operational, officials say they need to raise $65,000 to finish paying for the center.
“The remaining balance needed for the Counseling & Support Services Center will come from churches or individuals throughout the state who care about our mission,” Chief Development Officer Elisabeth Gadd said.
“Methodists can help by supporting the Center’s capital campaign. I truly believe that we should be able to complete this campaign very quickly with the support of those who care about our mission and, more importantly, the children who will receive counseling and educational support in the new buildings.”
She added that sponsorships are available.
To contribute, contact Gadd at (386) 753-2066 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and get more information.
During the dedication for both buildings, visitors took tours of the chapel and counseling center, the residential cottages and other areas on campus.
Madison Ranch opened in 2014 as an extension of the Children’s Home main campus in Enterprise.
“It serves children more in the northern half of the state and other children that might benefit from that atmosphere and the equine therapy program,” Cobia said.
The equine program allows children to bond with the two resident horses on site at the Stickney Stable. Children are encouraged to roam, play and heal in a rural, country setting.
|The plans for the Madison Youth Ranch chapel came to fruition during facility dedications on May 5, 2018.|
“A child’s responses to the horses can also provide excellent insight into the child’s opinions of self and of others, especially authority figures,” the website notes.
It also helps them overcome fears and develop healthy relationships and a strong work ethic, as well as learning team-building skills.
“The whole idea (of the new chapel and counseling center) was part of the master plan for the children in care at the ranch to ensure that they have the facilities to provide a continuum of holistic care through mind, body and spirit,” Gadd said.
“It is also consistent with our mission statement of empowering children and families to experience the transforming love of Christ through holistic care.”
The Margaret R. Scully Aquatic Center was dedicated at the youth ranch in May 2017. It includes a pool the children can use on hot summer days. Construction on the new chapel and counseling center soon followed.
The children living at the ranch have been attending a local United Methodist church, but the new chapel will now be used for Sunday services and has enough space for other activities, including music.
The new counseling center will provide space for a therapist to meet with and treat the children who live at the ranch in one-on-one or group sessions.
That building will also have space for tutoring, a clinic, a group meeting room and a tornado safe room.
|Kitwana McTyer speaks at the dedication service.|
Both former Northwest District Superintendent Robert Gibbs and current Northwest Superintendent Durwood Foshee have been supporters of the project.
“They were very instrumental in getting behind the vision of creating the chapel and helping to drive the capital needed to build it. It has been in the works for a number of years,” Cobia said.
The main campus has a capacity of 80-90 children. While the ranch capacity is 20 children now, plans are to increase that number as well.
“In general, the children in our care range from about 7 to 17 years old,” Cobia said. “In Madison, they go to local public schools. At the Children’s Home in Enterprise, there is a school on campus.”
In addition to the younger children, the home has an independent living facility for those 18 to 26. There also is a foster care outreach in Hillsborough, Broward, Flagler and Volusia counties. There can be as many as 450 children receiving care and escape dysfunctional family situations.
“The parents or family or state may place them here,” Cobia said. “We have therapists on staff who try to work with the family and the children to see if they can be reunited.
“That is our first objective. If that doesn’t work, we look for foster care or adoption.”
--Yvette Hammett is a freelance writer based in Valrico.