Events – Christian Children’s Home of Ohio

Events

A place where kids and God can meet (Story 1 of 50)

For 50 years, Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO) has been “a place where kids and God can meet.” It is truly an honor to serve at a place where we see staff each day being the hands and feet of Jesus to children and adults from hard places. Initially ministering to three to five kids at one time, CCHO and our family of ministries today serves more than 1,000 active clients. That incredible growth was built on the foundation that was established in 1969 and further cultivated under the leadership of the first two executive directors, Dennis Bowers and Gary Porter. Dennis was the director for the first decade of CCHO’s history and, in 1979, Gary and his family began his over three-decade tenure at CCHO. A big bear of a man with a heart for Jesus that was even bigger than his stature, Gary’s love for all that is CCHO was and still is inspiring. It is with an extremely grateful heart that we present our first of “50 Stories from 50 Years of Ministry,” from Gary Porter.

~Kevin Hewitt, CCHO President & CEO

A farmhouse, small barn and old tenant house sat on 175 acres of land in Wooster, OH. A group of caring individuals with a vision to create a place where kids and God could meet tried to purchase the property, but no local banks would give them a loan. Incredibly, a family from Orrville Christian Church stepped up and bought the farm for $65,000 so CCHO could begin its ministry. Leadership then made payments on the land as finances allowed until the property was fully purchased. What a blessing.

When CCHO began in 1969, I was in the role of youth minister at the West Akron Church of Christ serving under the direction of Senior Minister Rod Huron. This godly man was a positive influence on my life. He also happened to be one of the initial leaders of CCHO, playing an instrumental role in the founding of the organization and in having me become involved in 1979 as well. I was also privileged to know most of the original board members.

At the time of its purchase, the land had been in trusteeship for years and needed a lot of repairs. I was a part of several groups that completed work projects at CCHO, and it was during that time that I fell in love with this emerging ministry. Little did I know or even imagine that in just 10 years, my family and I would be living on that piece of farmland and that I would soon become CCHO’s second executive director.

I believe this was all a part of God’s plan.

Gary in 1989 with kids on the CCHO campus

I have many memories of our years of service at CCHO, with certain individuals coming to the forefront of my mind. These are just a few of the lives God made new through our ministry.

I recall a 15-year-old girl who had already lived in 13 places before she came into our care. Today she has a ministry making comfort bags so that other children never have to use trash bags like she did. She and her husband just adopted two children.

I remember a young man who gives credit to our ministry for how his life was changed. He served four years in the Marine Corps. He is now married with a family of his own, working hard as a master electrician. He says that none of this would have been possible without a loving God and the caring staff at CCHO.

When we began our foster care ministry in 1989, we received a call from Cuyahoga County with a need for emergency placement for three girls who had been abandoned at their office. My wife Bobbie and I headed to Cleveland and as we entered the building, we saw the three young girls sitting on the floor at the feet of a caseworker. Our hearts broke and we immediately took them back with us to Wooster. All three eventually were adopted and went on to college. One of the girls came back to CCHO after graduation and served as a social worker in our foster care ministry.

I remember a young Cleveland girl who put all she could carry in a plastic bag, took a bus to her local children’s services’ office and said, “I can’t take it anymore.” She was placed in one of CCHO’s foster homes in Amish country and thrived there. She was first in her high school class, graduated from the College of Wooster, studied in London for a year, and then went to work for a major auto manufacturer.

I recall a very smart and rebellious young man who went through our residential program many years ago. This same man has been a missionary pilot for more than 20 years.

I think of a defiant teen girl who once told me, “You are not going to change me.” She went on to graduate from Milligan College with a degree in nursing and now supervises nursing at a hospital.

A Tribute to Gary

We honored Gary Porter for his 33+ years of stewardship with our first Heart for the Home award in 2017. Please watch this tribute video to learn more about the godly leadership Gary provided CCHO and its family of ministries for more than three decades.

God provided for my 33 years of full-time ministry. Achievements were and continue to be possible because of the commitment and sacrifice of the best staff serving in childcare anywhere. Our board of trustees consists of some of the most dedicated and caring people I have ever known. I was blessed to serve under their direction.

I had the opportunity to tell CCHO’s story to and seek support from more than 300 churches. And this is where I need to thank my family. We made these church visits together, set up displays, passed out literature and listened to numerous presentations. Any one of these family members could have done the full presentation on their own. I am grateful for their support.

CCHO has been blessed by all of our individual donors. Without them, we would not exist. We have also been blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ. If we continue to know who we are and Whose we are, the blessings will continue.

Gary D. Porter
CCHO Executive Director, 1979-2012

Celebrating Five Decades of Ministry

This story is part of our "50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry" retrospective. Throughout 2019, we will be sharing 50 stories about the broken hearts, broken people, and broken families that have been made new by a loving and redemptive God. Have your own story about CCHO and our family of ministries? Click the button below to share it with us.

We will also be hosting our 50th Anniversary Celebration Weekend on June 8 & 9. We hope you can join us!

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Calling all bidders!

We are gearing up to launch an online auction on March 15, with proceeds benefitting CCHO and our family of ministries. Of course, this isn’t our first rodeo – we typically host a silent auction as part of our Heart for the Home Celebration each spring featuring more than 100 auction bundles that receive nearly 500 bids annually. But this year, we’re changing things up!

As we commemorate 50 years of ministry with a benefit dinner on Saturday, June 8 and our seventh annual Great Grill Off on Sunday, June 9, we wanted to give donors and supporters a fun way to still bid on popular items. And so, we’re introducing the Promise Project Auction, where you can impact the lives of children, adults and families throughout Ohio by bidding on items, making cash donations or simply sharing the Promise Project Auction across your social media channels.

You’ll have the opportunity to click and bid on an array of things like vacation packages, golf packages, antiques, home décor, theatre tickets, sporting events and unique experiences. Beginning March 15, our first batch of items will be open for bidding. New auction items will be added on the first and 15th of every month, through June 14, and each item will be available for about two weeks, with the end date and time displayed with each item.

Bidding is similar to online auction applications like eBay, so get that mouse ready to click and bid! If you’re the winning bidder, your item can be picked up at the CCHO campus in Wooster. Special arrangements may be available on a case-by-case basis for delivery within an hour of Wooster. Tickets, gift certificates and travel packages will be mailed directly.

It’s quick and easy to register to bid; you just need to provide your name and email address. If you are the winning bidder for an item, you’ll be asked to provide credit card information on the secure site.

Click here to register for our online auction today. That way, you’ll be ready to bid when our first items go live on March 15! In the meantime, please help us spread the word by sharing our auction page on Facebook.

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Michael Jr. shout-out!

Our Heart for the Home Celebration on March 24 in Canton is the biggest event of the year for our family of ministries. We are so excited to have Christian comedian Michael Jr. performing live that night! The evening will be filled with tons of great food, a huge silent auction and endless laughs. Get your tickets today — the deadline is Monday, March 19 at 11:59pm EST!

Judging by this video, Michael Jr. is excited for March 24. We hope to see you there!

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Michael Jr. says it’s OK to laugh at church

Comedian Michael Jr. will be performing a live show at our 2018 Heart for the Home Celebration in Canton on March 24 (get your tickets here)! To help you prepare for what promises to be a night of laughter that you won’t soon forget, we’ll be posting some Michael Jr. videos in the coming weeks.

Today, let Michael Jr. convince you that it’s OK to laugh at church!

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Heart for the Home Celebration

As we move ever closer to celebrating the 50th anniversary of Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO) in 2019, we wanted to take some time to look back on our agency’s long and storied past, an incredibly fruitful history that would not be possible without God’s guidance and blessings at every step. To do that right, not only did we need to praise the Creator who has made everything possible during CCHO’s existence, we also needed to honor the men and women who have invested their lives in our family of ministries.

And so, the first-ever Heart for the Home Celebration was created as we sought to not only pay tribute to our past but also look forward to an exciting future that God is unfolding for us! Nearly 400 people attended the event at the Greenbriar Conference & Party Centre in Wooster and after an opening prayer from Pastor Jerry Birch, the team chaplain for the Cleveland Cavaliers, everyone enjoyed the delicious dinner and dessert that was served while also bidding on more than 100 fun and unique packages in our silent auction.

The first highlight of the evening occurred early when we honored former CCHO Executive Director Gary Porter and his 33 years of dedicated service with a video presentation and our first Heart for the Home award. Please watch the full video below:

After dinner, CCHO therapist Brandon Jurkovich treated everyone to a personal and inspirational spoken word performance that examined the importance of fatherhood in the lives of children before handing the mic off to Dru Joyce II. The head boys basketball coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron and former mentor to LeBron James continued the fatherhood theme by speaking about his many years working with the young men on his teams and how his time as a coach and mentor has impacted his relationship with his own kids.

We also unveiled our agency’s first book, “Father’s Day Miracle: Faith, Fatherhood and the Day Everything Changed for Cleveland Sports Fans.” Everyone in attendance received a copy of the new book, which examines the intricate and sometimes messy relationships that are formed at the intersection of our calling as fathers, our passion as sports fans and, above all, our identity as followers of Christ. To learn more about this project and how you can get a copy of your own in time for Father’s Day, visit fathersdaymiracle.com!

Finally, we discussed our exciting plans to build a gym on the CCHO campus, a place where our young residents can shoot some hoops, burn off some energy and escape the cold Ohio winters. We will be releasing more information on this initiative in the coming months, so please stay tuned!

We were overwhelmed by the generosity and support that those in attendance and our sponsors demonstrated at the Heart for the Home Celebration. In total, the event raised nearly $90,000, which far exceeded our goal for the evening. Incredible! Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who attended, and be on the lookout for the next Heart for the Home Celebration in 2018!

We will be posting more video highlights from the evening, so stay tuned. In the meantime, to get a closer look at the festivities, please check out the photo gallery below.

Photo Gallery

Click the thumbnails below to view larger photos.

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