Blog – Page 8 – Christian Children’s Home of Ohio


Expressing God’s extravagant love

The song says Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but that’s not true for everyone. While life at home for the boys and girls on the CCHO campus was often terrifying, many of them are still homesick, especially this time of year. Sadly, these kids didn’t wake up in their own beds on Christmas morning.

But because of kind and loyal supporters, they did wake up to an astonishing example of generosity and love. Contributors to our annual Christmas Wish List program donated more than 400 gifts to 34 children on our campus. Wow! Even more incredibly, the Wish List donors sent in gifts to 97 kiddos in our Encompass Christian Counseling ministry, bringing the total number of gifts donated this year to nearly 1100!

Each year, we are blown away by this showing of love and support for the children and families we are blessed to serve. As Christians, we know Christmas isn’t about the gifts, but our Wish List program is a meaningful and memorable expression of God’s extravagant love for us, passed on to children who may never have experienced it before.

Cindy McCory, ReMax Showcase, Wish List donors for 5 years

I’ve been involved in helping CCHO for over 5 years. I was initially introduced through a friend who had fostered a couple boys through CCHO, and I wanted to help in some small way. I have four of my own children who I wanted to include in the process, so we started shopping for a child or two every Christmas. I would have each of my kids give up at least one of their Christmas gifts and took them individually shopping to pick out a gift for a child we were assigned. Every year I would bring my kids and their friends to wrap gifts for at least one cottage during the season. As my children grew, it became part of their Christmas and they had even taken on their own lists to organize and buy for. We would usually try to be available for any last-minute kids who needed gifts. It is not only a great way to help bring Christmas to kids who are in need, but an opportunity for my children to learn the real meaning of Christmas. As my kids left for college, I started including my co-workers at Re/Max to help sponsor kids. This year we bought gifts for 4 kids and had over 15 staff members come wrap presents! I am certain that participating in the program blesses the donors just as much as the Children on Christmas morning. It brings Christmas into perspective.

The Ballentine Family, Wish List donors for 10 years

We love to participate in the program to hopefully give some kids hope and share the love of God. To let them know, there are people who love them and want them to have their physical desires met by God’s grace and love for them. It has been a blessing to receive the kids lists, review them, then go shopping to search out the things they’ve asked for. Honestly, I also love the challenge of finding things they want, trying to figure out “who they are” through the notes of hobbies/favorite color, etc. and finding things that they will love. On Christmas morning, before opening our gifts, we pray a pray of thanksgiving for God’s generous gifts toward us and we pray for the kids at CCHO who are opening the gifts we purchased. Praying they are surprised and unbelievably blessed by them.

Bridge Street Church of Christ, Wish List donors for 19 years

Our youth group refers to it as “Holiday Smiles.” We have had other churches help over the years and most recently for the last 3 years Ohio University – Chillicothe Social Work program (SSWA) has also partnered with us to purchase the gifts. We started Holiday Smiles not only to give to the children at CCHO, but to create a service project for our own kids at BSCC. Holiday Smiles has become a tradition at BSCC starting every June at VBS. The collecting runs during certain fundraising events from VBS, craft shows, bake sales and chicken noodle dinners. It teaches our children to help others and give what they can and when they can. Organizing Holiday Smiles over the last 19 years has been the highlight of our Christmas activities each year. As a bonus, our congregation enjoys reading the thank you cards that we display each year. It adds a personal connection with the children. What a blessing!

Read more

Stand out and shine bright this Christmas

Each Christmas, we are reminded that the boys and girls in our residential treatment program are just that: boys and girls. They have experienced traumas and atrocities that most people will never have to endure. They’ve been wounded, deeply. They can lash out at the people around them because they lack the ability to process their often volatile emotions, much less control them.

But they are still children. And, like other kids their age, most of them still get excited for Christmas.

This year, we wanted to share a beautiful Christmas message from Natalie*, a resident in our teen girls cottage. Natalie came to CCHO in the summer of 2017 with a heartbreaking history of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Growing up, she heard hurtful messages like, “I wish you weren’t around” and “I wish you were never born.” Because of that, Natalie still struggles with her feelings toward the family members who betrayed her.

Since arriving on campus, Natalie has begun to understand that the messages she heard as a young girl were lies. Instead, she has heard the truth: that she was created for a reason, that she is loved and accepted unconditionally, that God has a purpose for her life.

This Christmas, we celebrate our Heavenly Father, who came down and took on our humanity simply because He loved us. We also celebrate a Creator who made us each unique, who blessed us with our own special giftings and abilities. As Natalie wrote in her message, “God made everyone different.”

As we witness the ways God has slowly and delicately worked on healing Natalie’s heart these past 18 months, we are excited to see how she “stands out and shines bright.” And we pray her hopeful message is a blessing to you this Christmas.

*Natalie’s name has been changed to protect her identity

Provide safety & care for hurting kids this Christmas

A gift of $80 this Christmas will provide one night of safety and care for a child in need. What a gift you can give!

Read more

Wishing for home this Christmas

She doesn’t have a home. Not really. For most of her life, Mia bounced between two different beds in two different states, staying with her mom and dad until the drugs and alcohol got out of hand and her parents beat her again, and then she’d move back in with Grandma and Grandpa. The last time she stayed with her parents, though, Mia was raped by a teenage boy. She was five.

Mia moved back to her grandparents’ care for good after that, but then the problems in school started – having a hard time concentrating, fighting with other students, getting in trouble with teachers. Mia was even hospitalized more than once for suicidal tendencies. Without any hope that things would get better, ending it all seemed like the only way to stop the pain.

Unable to provide Mia the specialized help she needed, her grandparents placed her in a nearby residential facility. The bouncing continued . . .

For a child like Mia, Christmas is always the hardest time to not have a home. “How many gifts will be under the tree when I wake up?” “Will Santa know where I’m staying this year?” “Does anyone love me enough to give me something for Christmas?” And even those few times that she was with her parents at Christmas, Mia never felt safe. It was just another day when she hoped she wouldn’t get hit again.

Children like Mia, who have been abused and neglected by the people they should be able to trust most in life, have such a hard time moving past the trauma they have experienced. For Mia, her horrific experiences resulted in PTSD. She’s talked often about killing herself.

But you can make a difference in Mia’s life right now. Every $80 you give helps provide Mia with the treatment she needs so she can finally have a peaceful and joyous Christmas. And a long, full life after that.

As Christians, we find our greatest joy and fulfillment in our relationship with Jesus. For many of us, Christmas is the time of year when we feel closest to Jesus as we celebrate His birth and thank our Heavenly Father for sending His Son down to save us and give us new life. For Mia and so many kids like her, they have never heard the true Good News of Christmas. You can change that.

With your gift of $80, Mia can have a safe place to call home this Christmas. She can know what it feels like to be loved and accepted unconditionally, despite what’s happened to her. Your donation gives Mia and other abused and neglected children a chance to learn about Jesus for the first time in a safe and loving environment this Christmas!

Mia loves doing cartwheels and crafting and playing with stuffed animals and dancing. But she also hates being alone, and certain songs bring back memories of the worst times of her young life. She sometimes still gets angry. Mia has a long way to go.

Your support ensures that Mia and the other hurting kids have everything they need to overcome the extreme abuse and unspeakable neglect they have experienced. Your gift of one, or even three nights of safety is the first step towards healing. What a gift you can give!

Provide safety & care for hurting kids this Christmas

Will you consider an $80 gift so that Mia and other girls and boys like her can experience a night of safety and begin to experience their worth in Christ?

Read more

More than a drawing

Drawing. Painting. Writing. Singing. Creating. Making.

The kids in our residential program bring a host of challenges with them when they first step foot on our Wooster campus. But they equally bring unique talents and passions that we hope will shine even brighter as they continue on their healing journey. Many of them utilize creative expression as an outlet for all they have seen, heard or experienced in their young lives.

Here’s a photo of a chalk drawing created by one of our talented teen residents.

Creativity is a beautiful part of humanity, and creative outlets, regardless of our ability, are important for all of us, but especially for individuals who have experienced trauma. Art is a way for children and adults alike to communicate feelings, to tell a story or to break from the present moment. Art therapy, a newer addition to traditional therapeutic approaches, gives hurting individuals a voice when they don’t yet have words.

According to the Art Therapy Credentials Board, “art therapy uses art media, the creative process and the resulting artwork as a therapeutic and healing process. Clients—young, old and in-between—are able to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem. Art therapists are trained in both art and therapy. The process isn’t an art lesson—it is grounded in the knowledge of human development, psychological theories and counseling techniques.”

Leah Mendez, residential art therapist at CCHO, says, “Art becomes a tool for me to find out where a child is at relationally and emotionally in a non-threatening way. Their artwork expresses pain, hope and other emotions about previous and current circumstances. It starts a dialogue about their needs and wishes for the future which we work through together.”

Leah utilizes the art therapy approach as part of intensive trauma therapy with our residential clients. Her research “Measuring Efficacy of Intensive Trauma Therapy Through an Attachment Potential Art Therapy Assessment” was recently recognized by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) where she received the Gladys Agell Award for Excellence in Research at the 2018 annual conference.

Read more

One heart on the rise

We have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. Cottage 1 recently celebrated #OneHeartOnTheRise. One of our teen boys successfully completed his program and was reunified with his biological family. What a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas for this family! Please join us in praise and prayer for his continued growth and transition from our residential program.

Once high school sweethearts, a series of bad choices led to a marriage falling apart. The difficulties of this loss sadly led to additional poor choices made by both parents and children. One sibling faired the storm and one sibling arrived at CCHO for additional support for his anger and behavioral challenges. That’s when this family’s healing journey began.

Shaun* settled into his program here on our Wooster campus and found several positive leisure activities to enjoy and help him make better choices. He also began family counseling with his mom. She drove several hours each way multiple times a week to visit and participate in these sessions. Even when Shaun was not very nice to her, she continued to attend counseling and be supportive and open to feedback. Together with a clinician, they were able to identify and work through emotional concerns while learning effective communication skills.

As a celebratory session at the end of treatment, the clinical team joined Shaun and his family on an escape room activity. This gave him the opportunity to demonstrate his problem-solving, communication and anger-management skills with his family in real time. Upon reentry to school, the principal noted, “He’s a brand new kid!” as he could see the positive changes in self-confidence and communication displayed in Shaun.

Our clinical team also worked with Shaun’s family to create a parenting plan and a family schedule to help them succeed in their reunification. We are truly excited to be a part of this family’s growth! Our social work approach wraps around the entire family with relentless commitment and kindness to help them experience their worth in Christ and find healing as a family unit.

Thank you for celebrating this #OneHeartOnTheRise with us. And thank you for your financial support and advocacy. You are helping to make safety and healing a reality for children and families like this.

*name changed to protect his identity

Read more

Thankful for life change, thankful for you

As we enter this week of giving thanks, we are joyfully grateful for the many children and adults who have received hope and healing this past year throughout our family of ministries. God is indeed good and gracious to those who are hurting. Though they have experienced much hardship, they are not forgotten. We are blessed to be part of God’s amazing work of lives being changed. We are thankful to you, our donors and supporters, for helping vulnerable kids and families through your time and resources. Your partnership provides each of these precious individuals with safety and treatment as well as the opportunity to experience their worth in Christ. Here is just one example of life change because of your generosity.

A Children’s Residential Center (CRC) is often a very misunderstood place. Some people think it’s a glorified detention facility. Some see it as a 24/7 daycare for aggressive children. Still others see it as an untrustworthy place where kids in pain must remain on guard and work tirelessly to protect themselves from even more pain. The latter was certainly the perception held by a 14-year-old young man when he was referred to our CRC here at CCHO.

At the time, Joe (name changed to protect his identity) had been living with his grandparents, but they felt they couldn’t handle their grandson anymore. They had come to the end of their rope and so had Joe. Upon his arrival on campus, Joe seemed like a respectable young man with some socially awkward tendencies, but overall didn’t appear aggressive or defiant. Unfortunately, that changed in the days that followed, with Joe exhibiting a vast range of what most would consider to be odd, attention-seeking and defiant behaviors.

Soon after, we discovered the root of the issues presented: Joe had witnessed his father shoot and kill himself when Joe was 4 years old. His mother then began physically abusing him because she didn’t know how to process his father’s suicide. He was left feeling powerless and without any control, a young boy full of guilt and self-blame who sadly became the scapegoat of the family. After Joe was removed from his mother’s care, his grandparents tried for years to help, to care and to love, but it only led to more anger and frustration, which caused him further hurt.

Joe wanted healing but, because of his misconceptions about residential facilities, he was unsure if he could find it at CCHO. He had been led to believe that CCHO was unsafe and, therefore, his behaviors continued for a few months until, one day, he decided to hand over to the staff a pocket knife that he had been hiding for his protection. He decided that he didn’t need it anymore, that he felt safe with the staff at CCHO. For maybe the first time in his life, Joe finally felt safe.

In the weeks and months that followed, he began connecting with the staff and many of his behaviors disappeared while the others decreased significantly. Through regular counseling, Joe began to process the trauma that he had been through and started to change his perspective on life, a process that led to freedom from his confining feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. He no longer blamed himself for his father’s death. He began engaging in social activities without fear. He began to show his true self by caring for other people and the animals on campus. Most importantly, he began attending church services, gave his life to Jesus and was baptized through our campus ministry and began to faithfully seek God.

Only one thing stood in the way for Joe, and that was his past. Because Joe had hurt his grandparents so deeply, they had difficulty trusting him. After multiple conversations about how he had changed for the better, they still didn’t feel safe enough to bring Joe home. Fortunately, God was on the move. Joe’s grandmother agreed to attend family therapy in hopes of addressing some of the hurts that she had both experienced and caused, and after his initial hesitancy, Joe’s grandfather participated as well. Joe responded by demonstrating resiliency and taking full responsibility for all he had done to his grandparents. He didn’t blame them for their reluctance to bring him home; instead, he apologized for the past. Despite his own pain, he acknowledged the pain he had caused others. His grandparents, finally allowing themselves to believe that healing had come, offered Joe forgiveness and even apologized for their own past mistakes.

What once seemed like an impossibility became reality when Joe reunified with his grandparents after nearly nine months of treatment at CCHO, a powerful illustration of Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:26: “With God, all things are possible.”

You may be asking yourself the same question that Joe’s grandparents had: “Can healing from hurt that deep really come in nine months?” With Jesus, it can. For Joe, it did. And for many children with a similar story, it has, it does, and it will continue.

CCHO’s CRC was Joe’s safe place where he could find healing, discover hope and experience his worth in Christ. In his last week at CCHO, Joe tearfully expressed his gratitude for the help CCHO provided, and he attributed his life change to giving everything to Jesus and following Him.

Read more

CCHO and our family of ministries celebrates reaccreditation from Council on Accreditation

CCHO and our family of ministries have recently completed a rigorous reaccreditation process with an independent international accrediting body called Council on Accreditation (COA). Implementing COA standards means our organization is among the best in the field. We are proud to be a part of this community of excellence.

CCHO President and CEO Kevin Hewitt says, “We are so pleased to be affirmed by COA as we head into the celebration of our 50th anniversary year in 2019. Led by our continuous quality improvement team, CCHO actively engages staff members in reviewing and refining policies and procedures so we can realize our vision to be the partner of choice, providing services that transform lives, families and communities. Many thanks to John Smith, director of continuous quality improvement, and his team, for leading this important project over the last 16 months.”

Accreditation is the formal evaluation of an organization or program against best practice standards. It is both a status and a process. As a status, it signifies we meet the high standards of quality set forth by the accrediting body. As a process, it involves an in-depth self-review of an organization or program against currently accepted best practice standards, an onsite visit by an evaluation team comprised of experts, and a subsequent review and decision by the accrediting body.

COA’s team of experts spent weeks in advance of their on-site visit pouring over hundreds of documents prepared for their review. Then the team (made up of experts in the field from Florida, New York and Alberta, Canada) traveled to our campus to experience our work firsthand through observation and interviews followed by more document examination giving evidence of what we do. During their four-day site visit, they interviewed board members, staff at all levels of the organization, children in our residential program, foster families and clients in our outpatient programs. They also visited our downtown Wooster office as well as our Massillon location.

One peer reviewer, a 40-year veteran in the human services industry who has conducted 115 assessments, followed up with an email to our staff: “… It was a very enjoyable site visit. Please let everyone know how much I appreciated their cooperation. It helped to renew my faith. Again many, many thanks.” This message sums up why we do what we do: To help people experience their worth in Christ.

Read more

When braiding leads to bonding

God often moves in profound and powerful ways to demonstrate His love to people in pain and crisis. These are the exhilarating stories that capture our imaginations, stories that inspire books, songs and movies. But sometimes, rather than doing the seemingly impossible, He chooses to move in simpler and subtler ways. As a supporter of our ministry, your generosity continues to be used by God to accomplish His plan for kids like Karlee* on our campus.

Karlee’s birth parents had been running a meth lab out of her home when she was placed into the residential program at Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO). A victim of severe neglect and physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her father, Karlee carried the debilitating effects of her trauma into her very first day on campus, when she threatened to stab a CCHO staff member with a pair of scissors shortly after arriving.

It was clear from the beginning that Karlee was mad at everyone – her parents, the county workers who sent her to CCHO, and the staff who were now trying to help her. However, she was maybe angriest at God for not protecting her from the pain and abuse she had endured. Her parents’ choices had not only deeply wounded Karlee, they had also forced her to care for her younger siblings, ensuring they got off to school each day and had food to eat, which robbed her of the chance to lead a typical teenager’s life. Once her grandmother died, Karlee lost what little sense of stability she’d had, and from the moment she arrived at CCHO, she made a point of rebelling against any and all authority.

Karlee’s behavior was a product of her extensive trauma, and she was desperately trying to protect herself from more pain. At night, she curled up into a ball in the corner of her room because she was afraid her dad would find her. We were soon reminded that even the simplest act of kindness can bring down the tallest walls around an anguished heart.

Karlee clashed early and often with Alisha, a CCHO treatment specialist who worked to establish accountability in Karlee’s life in her first couple of weeks on campus. “She never had authority. She never had anyone telling her what to do,” Alisha says. “So of course it would make her angry when someone is trying to parent her….”

When leaving work one day, Alisha discovered that Karlee had used gravel to form a vulgar message on the trunk of her car. Rather than getting mad, Alisha chose to demonstrate God’s grace and love for Karlee. “So many of the kids are used to getting in trouble, getting beat when they do something wrong,” she says. “When they see the staff forgive them, that makes an impact. We can tell them about God all day long and they won’t care, but when we show them the love of God, that’s what makes the difference.”

About a month later, Karlee watched Alisha braiding yarn into a lanyard and asked if she could teach her how to do it. Alisha quickly demonstrated the method to Karlee, not thinking much of the interaction. The next day, however, she found a handwritten note from Karlee:

“Thank you for teaching me how to braid. I really appreciate it. That impacted me in a way you probably wouldn’t understand. My dad knew how to (braid) also, but every time I’d ask him to teach me, he would say, ‘NOT RIGHT NOW.’ After (I asked) a few more times, he got his (belt) out and beat me with it. So, THANK YOU!”

At the bottom, she taped a small green and yellow braid to the page and wrote, “I’d like you to have the first one I made.”

Karlee still has a long way to go in her treatment, but Alisha says she has made incredible progress as she opens up in therapy about her trauma. The walls are beginning to come down, she treats staff and fellow residents with kindness, and her heart grows softer and softer each day as she learns more about who she is in the eyes of her loving God.

The healing process is different for everyone, but it’s almost always messy. The children on our campus require patience as they work through their trauma, and they often take one step back after two encouraging steps forward. Your continued support of the work being done at CCHO and our family of ministries makes stories like Karlee’s possible. Without donors like you, Karlee and other traumatized children like her may never experience grace and forgiveness or hear that they are loved unconditionally by the God who created them.

Support CCHO this fall

Will you consider showing the love and generosity of God by making a gift so even more boys and girls can learn just how precious they are in their Father’s eyes?

*name changed to protect identity

Read more

24th Annual Caring4Kids Golf Classic

Monday’s heat and humidity were no match for our 15 golf teams as they tackled 36 holes for our 24th annual Caring4Kids Golf Classic. Teammates spurred one another on in our scramble format and participated in several contests including longest drive, closest to the pin, and hole in one.

The event is about so much more than a fun day of golf. Sixty golfers filled the course at Hawk’s Nest Golf Club in support of CCHO’s most vulnerable residents. Event proceeds will benefit our residential treatment program which brings hope and healing to children ages 6 to 18 who have experienced trauma and abuse. We are extremely grateful to our players and sponsors for helping us meet physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the kids we serve.

Congratulations to all our winners!
Round one winners: Central Coated Products, Inc.
Steven Porter, Steve Porter, Tom Kloet, Art Hagg

Round two winners: Steve Underwood
Steve Underwood, Kim Clark, Bob Blankenship, Craig Durr

Special thanks to our premier event sponsors:
Hummel Group, Area Wide Protective, Central Coated Products, Inc., Ohio Gratings, Inc., Vasco Asphalt Company

Additional sponsors include:
BellStores/Campbell Oil Company, Mennonite Mutual, MiMy Media, Van Nostran Young & Associates, Whitaker-Myers Group

Many thanks to our tee sponsors:
Aber Automotive, Bauman Orchards, Buchholz Plumbing & Heating, Certified Angus Beef, Coblentz Bros, Inc., The Daily Record, Derodes Holdings LTD, Family Pools & Spas, Frontz Drilling Inc, Gerber Feed Service, H & H Custom Homes, J & J Auto Wrecking, Lincdor, Martin Jewelers, McClintock Electric, Millers Septic Tank Cleaning, Nagy’s Collision Center, Riceland Flow Care, Ride On LLC, Rufener’s Furniture, Santmyer Oil, Smetzer Tire Center, State Farm Insurance-Jane Nicholson Agency, Sterling Farm Equipment, Swartzentruber Plumbing & Heating, Village Motors, Wayco Recycling Center, Winkler Tire

Thank you to our prize donors:
ASAP! Advertising Specialties & Printing, Copeco, Whitaker-Myers Group, The Workshops, Inc.,

Enjoy the event through our image gallery below and make plans to join us next year as we celebrate our 25th annual golf classic.

Photo Gallery

Click the thumbnails below to view larger photos.

Read more

A great night with great laughs at the 2018 Heart for the Home Celebration

Laughter has a way of bringing people together, and on an early spring night at First Christian Church in Canton, comedian Michael Jr. definitely brought the funny! Nearly 500 people attended the 2018 Heart for the Home Celebration in support of Christian Children’s Home of Ohio and its family of ministries on Saturday, March 24, and they were treated to an assortment of tasty hor d’oeuvres and desserts, a huge silent auction with more than 100 bundles up for bidding, and a live comedy show from Christian comic Michael Jr.

We also handed out our Heart for the Home awards to Marge Furney in honor of her late husband and former CCHO board member Russ Furney, who served the agency for more than 20 years; and Ryan Rasmussen, lead pastor at First Christian Church, for the church’s decades of support and service. As a special treat, one of the young CCHO residents celebrated with us after being baptized earlier that day by sharing her testimony on stage before singing the song “Oceans” for the audience, a performance that earned her a standing ovation!

Flip through some of our favorite photos from the night below, and be on the lookout for details of our 50th anniversary celebration, coming in 2019!

Photo Gallery

Click the thumbnails below to view larger photos.

Read more