Greetings from your staff and thank you on behalf of all the boys and girls that you help support on all the campuses and outreach programs of the Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services. Our Mission and value statement serve as a constant reminder of our goals to provide innovative and quality services to the families and youth we serve. To that concern I am pleased to inform everyone of the following memorandum which I just received from the Council on Accreditation (COA) informing us we have been reaccredited by the COA. The result of the review process was that we achieved all compliance ratings in all of the practice standards. An amazing achievement which is credited to our dedicated staff and governing body.
Let me briefly update you with regard to current activities pertaining to operations at the various campuses. The Methodist Home of Greater New Orleans on the Mandeville Campus is providing excellent care to an average of 15 to 18 youth on any given day. We continue to have to work at developing a work force. The leadership is very stable and is providing excellent supervision. My greatest concern is in the drop of financial support, particularly the Christmas Offering. Since we assumed the responsibility for its operations we have been blessed by those who have continued to support its operation. We have even acquired new donors. But overall the financial support has dropped. I realize that part of that is the economy and all the other issues that accompany this area of our Conference and State. However, it is critical that this trend be turned around.
The Methodist Children’s Home of Southwest Louisiana Campus in Sulphur is progressing very well. Construction should be completed by the end of September. Operations will probably start in November or January. An open house and dedication program will be held on Sunday, October 17, 2010, between 2 and 4 pm. Bishop William Hutchinson will be present to help with the dedication event. I must commend the Lake Charles District, following the leadership of a group of volunteers who have been about raising friends and funds to help us complete construction and begin operation on such a positive note. I must also thank a group of volunteers from the Acadiana District which have organized a fund raising trip which will occur on Saturday, October 9. This is indeed an exciting time.
The Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home Campus in Ruston continues to operate at full capacity. Funding is a concern for us as it is for all non-profits at this time. Our Mother’s Day offering for 2009 was not what it should be. Overall giving was 17% down during 2009. I am not complaining. I know of other agencies whose donations were down by 50%. We are blessed to have been able to build up some reserves during our 108 years of operation. We used some of those reserves to cover the shortfall, however, we cannot do that very long without using up what reserves are left. I am pleased to report that the new Vo-Tech Career Training Center is to be complete by early July. We will be able to move this program into the new building this Fall semester allowing us to expand this greatly needed service for the youth, who are turning 18 years of age and aging out of the foster care system. We are now able to launch them into gainful employment careers which will assure them of a successful adult life, enabling them to apply all the life skills and life lessons learned while in our care.
I must remind you of my retirement plan which I informed our Board of Directors of 5 years ago. I know from visiting with some of you this has caused some anxiety and concern. Let me assure you that our Board has a strategic plan in place to assure a smooth and effective leadership transition. Part of that plan is the employment of a full time Executive Director of Public Relations, Development and Marketing (PRDM). That person is Mr. Gary Strebeck who comes to the position with a great deal of experience. Most recently with similar duties at the Louisiana Tech University Foundation. He and his family are members of Trinity UMC in Ruston. Please invite and welcome him to your churches.
In closing I remind you we are your connection in ministry to children, youth and families throughout every community in our Annual Conference. We could not do what we do without you and you cannot do what you do without your Children’s Home. Remember that every time you make a donation, volunteer, or even buy a jar of OWL Salsa you are also helping heal young lives that otherwise would most probably never be introduced to Jesus Christ or experience God’s Love.
May God’s Blessings be with all his children regardless of age.
Your Servant in Christ,