This past Saturday, September 10th, was our Annual Open House. If you didn’t make it, you missed out on a great day! The day was spent catching up with old and new friends, great music, food, family and fun. It was also impressive learning about our kids, and what they are up too in our Leadership U program. But one of the highlights of the day was our chance to honor some very special people.
First, we celebrated this year’s recipients of the Champion for Children award, Pat and Paul Rhoades.
2016 Champion for Children Award
Paul and Pat first heard about Show-Me while attending Southside Christian Church in the 1970’s. When they moved to Westridge Christian Church in Raytown in 1977, their involvement ramped up significantly.
Their Sunday School Class, the Keystone class, attended Annual Meetings at Show-Me every July (in those days, it was outside under a tent in JULY). That class also rallied behind other programs to support Show-Me, and did so faithfully for decades. They started sponsoring children for Christmas, taking special offerings amongst themselves for various needs, and regularly contributed financially, adding much stability to the Show-Me budget.
Chad Puckett, Show Me Christian Youth Home Director, shared this memory. “My first interaction with Paul and Pat, was in response to an SOS we sent out about 15 years ago. Show-Me was running low on meat to feed the families here, so Karen asked me to contact Paul, and his Sunday School classmate, Charlie Wadleigh, to see about getting some ground beef. A quick phone call was all it took, and a few days later they delivered hundreds of pounds of fresh ground beef.”
Paul and Pat organize their church’s participation in the Change for Children Program, coming down to get change cans, distributing them to members of the congregation, gathering them back up and returning them to Show-Me. Since 2009, we can figure that nearly $20,000 has been contributed as a result of Paul and Pat’s diligence and support of this program.
Many years ago, likely over 25, Pat took over the Christmas gifts program at Westridge, organizing her congregation’s response to the needs at Show-Me, making sure each child at Show-Me was sponsored by someone in her congregation to receive Christmas gifts. Many churches do this, but Westridge was one of the first. Pat organizes this each year with passion and efficiency.
Someone had the nerve to mention to Pat one year that the Show-Me kids dress better than some of the children in their church, so why should she give gifts to them. Pat quickly scolded her that the church kids have parents who should take care of their needs; Show-Me kids don’t have parents that can.
Sponsoring children at Christmas is a big deal at Westridge. Early in the Fall, Pat begins preparations. She has several friends contact her directly, making sure she sets aside certain cards for them before they all get snatched up.
It’s always a blessing when we see Paul and Pat drive up to the office. They usually don’t stay longer then their business requires, but they’re sure full of hugs and encouragement in that time span.
Even if you press them to take some credit for all they do for these children, they respond “we really don’t do that much; we just do a little.” Paul said, “We enjoy it! It’s always a joy, never a chore.”
Show-Me is so blessed to have such dedicated supporters as Paul & Pat. We wish we had someone like Paul and Pat Rhoades in every congregation!
2016 Overcomer Award
We also had the chance to honor this year’s Overcomer Award recipients, Kayla and Casey Jones.
In 2001, Casey arrived at Show-Me with is little brother, Christian. His mother loved her boys dearly, but realized, with the help of her family and friends, that her mental illness prevented her from raising her boys. At 13 years of age, Casey was an excellent student and had some untapped athletic talents that were uncovered continuously as he grew up. Once they joined the Weber family, they had a family for life.
Kayla came from a long history of depression, dependencies, and suicide; her family came together to salvage Kayla from a life of self-destruction and helped her get to Show-Me in 2004 at the age of 13. Kayla joined the Pucketts and eventually adjusted to the responsibilities and advantages of having a stable family. She overcame her academic struggles and found athletic strengths as well.
Casey and Kayla became “High School Sweethearts” and anticipated a future together. Casey graduated from the Show-Me Christian School in 2006 and Kayla in 2008. They joined their lives in marriage shortly after Kayla’s graduation.
Kayla always dreamed of becoming a nurse. With a new marriage and a baby on the way, Kayla launched into nursing school at Lincoln. Casey worked multiple jobs to provide for the family.
Casey and Kayla agree that the biggest advantage of Show-Me to them was the fresh starts they were able to embrace. It’s difficult for a young person to begin the change process when they are trapped in the same environment, influences, and peers. The new families, friends, and structure enabled them to start fresh and build toward a better future.
Both Casey and Kayla were standout-leaders on the athletic teams. Sports helped them overcome the distractions of things going on in their personal lives. They remained focused on being kids, not having to worry about things a teenager shouldn’t have to worry about.
Telling others that they grew up in a youth home left the impression of an institution. But Casey and Kayla always felt like “one of the family” in their Show-Me homes. Kayla said, “Special people invited me in to be part of their family. We still feel the comforts of “home” when we visit our Show-Me families. It’s still home to us.”
The Jones family now consists of Xavier, Jayda, and Elijah. Kayla is a registered nurse, Casey works with Culligan. They are active in their community and their church. Most importantly, they have broken the cycles from which they each came and lead lives that contribute greatly to our world.
Both of these honorees are very deserving. We are thankful to have the Rhoades and Jones families as a part of our Show-Me family!