At our recent Open House event, we had a few staff members who openly shared their heart about how Cookson Hills comes TOGETHER to serve kids and families. Here’s a snapshot of the conversation:
Ryan (Houseparent): We believe that God uses the family to accomplish His will here on earth. Because of this, when a kid comes to our home, we want it to feel like family. Then when they leave here, they will know what a healthy and safe family looks like. They can watch God work in their lives and hopefully see a better story for themselves.
I’m so grateful for the way that everyone in our community works together to love these kids. Just this week, we hosted a party for two of our boys who are leaving. I watched as the food store manager looked at one of my boys and said, “I believe in you. When you get out of here, you can do something.” I don’t know of a better picture of togetherness. Everyone here mentors the kids. We are all working together to tell kids the same thing: There is a God who loves them, who believes in them, and has a really big purpose for their life.
Clay (Teacher): I teach Bible classes to middle and high school students. One of my main goals is to help students think both creatively and critically. They need to be able to think about God and understand that He exists and He is good. But often their own life experiences contradict this fundamental truth. So when they are struggling with the hard questions of life, we have to be able to give them answers that will satisfy. I often have students who come to me after their evening family devotions, looking for a second opinion on a difficult subject. This gives me an opportunity to teach them and show them the answers they are searching for. Then they can look at the world, with no hesitation, and say that God exists and He is good.
Kayla (Houseparent): In our family, we love consistently, even when we discipline. From the very first day, we are intentional about caring for each kid, pouring into them, giving them words of affirmation, and serving them. We want to show them they are truly loved and a part of the family.
And now today, we have two of our boys leaving. It’s a really bittersweet time. I have shed a lot of tears. But it’s an exciting time because we have built a relationship with their parents. Throughout the year, we have been able to tell their parents about their kid’s progress or what we have seen working as we hold them accountable. Then their parents have been able to implement the same things on their visits. Now they are going home and we believe they have bright futures ahead of them. We get to be on the other side where we will get the phone calls from them and we can still champion them on to greatness.
Amanda (Teacher): I believe the role of our school is to provide students with the best education that we can. As an elementary teacher, I work really hard to build self-confidence in my students. Confidence in themselves will overflow into the rest of their lives and they can begin to really learn.
School also provides a place to have new experiences. These experiences could spark a future interest in their life. Just this week I had a student who designed and built a model wicked fast water slide as a part of a class project. Later, we got to talking about his interests and he explained that he wants to be an architect when he grows up. He never knew he liked to build things and design things before this new experience.
Alan (Children & Family Services Manager): On the therapy side of things, we really focus on building trust between family members and helping them affirm their commitment to one another. Families we serve often have a decline in trust, and their commitment has been challenged. Just recently, I received a note from a family who was here not too long ago. Every month they were at family therapy and training. They partnered with the houseparents by incorporating new routines in their own home. Now that their child has returned home, they are successful in ways that they never thought was possible. They even said they have a peace-filled home as opposed to one of conflict. It’s really neat to see families who are willing to partner with us rebuild trust and come together again.