By Rolando Rodriguez Soto, Reporter
The Methodist Children’s Home of Waco is celebrating their 125th anniversary with special events featuring Chip and Joanna Gaines from the HGTV show “Fixer Upper.”
The celebration begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Methodist Children’s Home campus at 1111 Herring Ave.
To kick off the event, the Gaines will end with hosting an exclusive Q&A on campus where fans can meet them, ask questions and have a photo opportunity. Afterward, the Methodist home will be hosting a picnic style luncheon featuring the Gaines and other special guests.
The evening will be a campus tour where guests are welcome to view special exhibits, tour their campus and have the opportunity to win special Methodist Children’s Home 125th anniversary prizes.
“I think it’s great that Chip and Joanna are becoming involved,” said Yesenia Lares-Martinez, Methodist Children alumna. “It’s really nice to have someone that’s close to a celebrity status to take the time and acknowledge a big part of the Waco community.”
The Children’s Home will also be opening a new residential building for its youth in honor of its anniversary. It has been over fifty years since a new building was constructed on their campus. The ground-breaking was on June 19 earlier this summer, and the building will be open in 2016.
Russell Rankin, director of public relations at The Children’s Home, said that over the years the campus and the needs of society has changed. He said the Methodist Children’s Home had to adapt to better provide for the youth.
“In one regard, the needs have continued to change, and we are meeting those needs,” Rankin said. “The second part is that buildings just get old. It was significant to start this project in the 125th year.”
The new home will feature a unique, single-level design instead of the other multi-level residential buildings, but it will still offer the same Christian environment. It will house eight to 12 youth, in addition to home parents, or caseworkers.
“All the home units are set up where the kids receive the interaction with other kids, have areas where they can study, have fun, but more importantly, where they can receive nurturing and growth,” Rankin said.
The program is open to youth that face difficult family circumstances, such as abuse. The youth are able to set goals for themselves in a safe environment so that they can establish structure and routine.
“Some of the kids who stay here come from the hard places of life,” Rankin said. “They’ve had tough situations. Not all have had bad relationships. Some of them are just circumstances.”
Lares-Martinez came from a difficult and abusive background. She attributes the stable foundation she received from The Children’s Home for her successes in life such as graduating high school and now attending college.
“It’s made going to college possible with my old staff’s emotional support and with financial assistance,” Lares-Martinez said. “They have taught me lessons in family relationships, personal relationships and just how to be a better person.”
From its humble beginnings in 1890, MCH opened as an orphanage with barrack-style accommodations. Throughout the years, MCH has transitioned into a home where troubled youth have the opportunity to live in a safe, Christian environment.
The Home has become a sprawling campus, which currently includes 16 cottage-style homes, administrative offices, a chapel, a charter school, a gym, recreation facilities and a clinic.
For more information on registering for the free luncheon and tour or to buy tickets for the Q&A with Chip and Joanna Gaines, visit the Methodist Children’s Home website.