Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO) held our virtual Christmas all-staff meeting a few weeks ago. We certainly missed gathering in person for this annual celebration that includes 200 staff members from across our family of ministries including Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling. But we did not miss out on the opportunity to recognize colleagues for their years of service and dedication.
This year, 16 employees were acknowledged for their contributions in helping people experience their worth in Christ. Six staff members from CCHO, two from Encourage, and one from Encompass were recognized for five years of service to their respective ministries. Three Encompass clinicians and one CCHO employee were acknowledge for their 10 years of service to clients and staff. Kevin Hewitt, our president and CEO was honored by Board President Steve Porter for 15 years of service.
The extra-special honorees this year were 30-year employees Carla and John Plegge. Previously junior high youth sponsors at their church in Columbiana, Ohio, CCHO leaders Allan and Ruth Aubrey saw the potential for the Plegges to become teaching parents on our residential campus in Wooster. Carla and John joined our much-smaller organization in 1990 as house parents of cottage two.
The Plegges spent their first 17 years in a foster-parent role caring for and mentoring children and teens in need of safety and connection. Soon after arriving at CCHO, God began nudging Carla’s heart to offer additional therapy options to residents. In 1995 One Heart Stables opened and has grown over the years to offer equine therapy services for our youth and the general public through Encompass. During their 30-year ministry career, they have invested not only in their clients, but also in their colleagues and community.
Lisa Haberbusch, regional director at Encompass and Carla’s supervisor said, “Their love of horses allowed them to move into this equine therapy role. Carla dreamed big and John supported her with hard labor and willingness to do whatever it takes.” Lisa noted that their heart for youth from hard places has carried over into their personal life. They have adopted children out of foster care and they are currently in the process of adding one more Plegge to their family through adoption.
Jeff Stump, currently the director of facilities at CCHO and John’s supervisor, once worked alongside the Plegges as house parents. “In 1990, my wife Susan and I had the immense privilege and honor of beginning our work with John and Carla,” said Jeff. “For 30 years, John has been a constant to the ministry of helping those who are struggling in life to find their hope in Christ. His many roles have always served to advance the CCHO family of ministries. His connection to the community has never wavered and is still ongoing. His long support of his partner in life is a remarkable testament to a couple working in life and ministry together.”
“You have impacted for eternity thousands of kids and parents—what an unbelievable honor it is for us to congratulate you on 30 years,” said Kevin Hewitt, president & CEO. “The ability to love emotionally hurting children is an amazing gift that you’ve been given by God. Your faithfulness and hospitality shines in everything you do.”
The Plegges stand alongside Bobbie and Gary Porter with this 30-year milestone at CCHO. They are truly ambassadors for our ministry. We are forever grateful for their Pleggacy.