Five of us entered the Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home in Fort Mitchell Kentucky with Maggie Halferty Stith, National FFA Foundation Staff, and Jake Hawkins, Toyota representative. We were greeted warmly at the receptionist’s desk and immediately felt at home.
“Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home is a treatment center for children who have severe to moderate emotional and/or behavioral problems. The origins of the home date back over 160 years when a group of Kenton Countians met to form the St. John’s Orphan Society. DCCH has evolved over the years to meet the changing needs of the community. DCCH’s 83-acre campus is located in Northern Kentucky, in the city of Fort Mitchell.” (http://www.dcchcenter.org/)
John Carney, recreation director at the DCCH, gave us a tour of their new facilities. The new addition includes offices, classrooms, and the gymnasium. Each classroom is set up for about six to eight students and is equipped with technology and materials to help the students be successful including smart boards. Not only is this a safe place for kids to live, education is a priority with the school right on campus. Students who have fallen behind in school are brought up to speed in a 6 to 12 months period through the individualized attention of the teachers. This puts the kids back on track in education helping to set them up for success in life. We also toured the residence halls where each individual has their own room they get to decorate and make their own.
We ended in the new gymnasium where we hosted some fun and educational activities for a group of kids. We quickly set up some supplies and welcomed eleven kids ranging in age from eight to fourteen years old. We played some get to know you games and got moving around. We took a closer look at a typical pizza and where all the parts come from in agriculture. FFA was touched on and lots of questions were answered before we continued with some fun activities for the rest of our time together.
It was powerful to see throughout the day how the interactions of the staff and students truly lived out the mission and goals of the home…
Mission: “The mission of Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home is to express God’s love by providing compassionate care and quality services to address the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of children and families.”
Goals: “To access, stabilize, treat, and educate children and their facilitating changes in relationships, attitudes and behavior. Through a continuum of support and assistance, we strive to establish them into a family setting, as well as develop them into productive, self-confident members of the community.”
We wrapped up the activities with a water balloon toss and then dinner. Lastly, to wind down the day, we read “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. It was amazing the message these young minds pulled out of the book. There were tough goodbyes as the kids headed back to their residences for the evenings.
After packing up we began to talk about the day and moments to celebrate. We shared many little moments each of us had. One teammate was especially touched by a group moment. We were playing a simple ball toss activity with different buckets worth different points. Every single person was engaged in the task at hand. Each kid had a different strategy…get balls for your teammates, bounce the balls, toss the bricks, or throw them all. The song “Something Beautiful” by NeedtoBreathe came on from a play list. That sight and moment was beautiful and captured our hearts. Here are kids who come from broken situations that they have no control over, and to see them smiling and laughing all together in that moment was beautiful. It is moments like these that deserve a true celebration. A small miracle happened before us.
We must take the time to soak in these moments and truly celebrate them. As Albert Einstein reminds us. ..
Thanks for leaving eleven footprints on all of our hearts!
Stationed by the ear,