News – Christian Children’s Home of Ohio


Fifty years in one big weekend (Story 16 of 50)

CCHO is celebrating 50 years of ministry! Throughout 2019, we will be sharing stories of the lives that have been forever changed by the work God has done through our family of ministries (CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling). As our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series continues, we look back on our first five decades of ministry with a new video that was part of our big 50th Anniversary Weekend Celebration. Read on to watch the video and to read our full weekend recap.

What a way to commemorate five decades of ministry! More than 1500 people attended our three-day celebration on June 7-9, a weekend-long series of events designed to look back on all the ways God has blessed CCHO through 50 years of ministry while looking ahead in anticipation of what may be next. Each day was memorable in its own way, helping to make for one unique experience for everyone involved!


Our 50th Anniversary Celebration Weekend kicked off on Friday, June 7 with the ribbon cutting for our new Children’s Leadership & Recreation Center. This new complex on our Wooster campus consists of a middle school-sized gymnasium, a commercial kitchen and cafeteria, therapy spaces and several classrooms.

Click here to read more about the ribbon cutting, including our guests for the day, and to see photos from the event.


Our 50th Anniversary Benefit Dinner on Saturday, June 8 proved to be a beautiful evening filled with incredible stories of God’s grace in action. Special guests included Gary Porter, CCHO’s Executive Director for 33 years, and his wife Bobbie, foster/adoptive parent Julie Kandel and her (large) family, and former CCHO resident, Pastor Louie Pantelis. The evening featured a powerful time of worship led by a team of incredibly talented CCHO employees, the sharing of some compelling stories from 50 years of ministry, an inspirational spoken-word performance by CCHO’s own Brandon Jurkovich, and many other highlights.

Throughout the night, we debuted several videos to look back on CCHO’s 50 years of ministry and to look ahead at what may be in store. The first video of the night celebrated our agency’s history, featuring conversations with Gary Porter, CCHO’s current President & CEO Kevin Hewitt, the daughter of one of our original board members, and longtime employees.

Click here to read more about the 50th Anniversary Benefit Dinner and to see all the photos from the evening!


Our seventh annual Great Grill Off proved to be the perfect grand finale to our 50th Celebration Weekend! With 11 grill teams doling out more than 5000 sliders to nearly 1400 people in attendance, this was our biggest and best Great Grill Off yet. While the competition was stiffer than ever in our burger competition, Spoon Market took home the crown for the third-straight year.

Read a full recap of the Sunday festivities, along with all the stats from the day and a slew of photos, at!

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.

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The greatest Great Grill Off yet

Our jam-packed 50th Anniversary Weekend concluded with the seventh annual Great Grill Off on our Wooster campus. This fun family event has quickly become the place to be in Wayne County on the second Sunday in June, and this year people came in record numbers!

Eleven burger teams grilled up more than 5000 of the best sliders you’ve ever tasted for the nearly 1400 people in attendance, our largest crowd ever. Spoon Market took home the burger trophy for the third-straight year despite the fierce competition, and everyone enjoyed the bounce houses, hay ride, bake walk and other activities.

We’ve included a few photos here along with our fun recap video. You can see all the photos from the day along with all sorts of fun stats and facts at We hope to see you on June 14, 2020 for next year’s Great Grill Off!

Photo Gallery

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A powerful night, a powerful God

How do you pack five decades of life-changing ministry into one night of celebration? That’s exactly what happened on Saturday, June 8 as more than 200 people gathered at the Shisler Conference Center in Wooster to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO) and our family of ministries.

There were former CCHO residents in attendance, past and present employees, people who have supported our ministry for years in a number of different ways, board members, and many others with a heart for helping people experience their worth in Christ. Longtime friends had a chance to reconnect and new relationships were formed. Laughter filled the evening and there were even a few tears as heartwarming stories were shared from the stage throughout the night. All in all, it was a sweet way to celebrate all that God has done through 50 years of ministry.

Gary Porter, CCHO’s Executive Director for 33 years, and his wife Bobbie were popular as former CCHO residents, employees and friends stopped by their table throughout the night to say hello and share some stories. After dinner, the evening’s program kicked off with a powerful time of worship, led by current CCHO employees Rod Kurjian, Matt Malanga, Emily Frazier, Daniel Crites and Brandon Jurkovich. The quintet brought everyone into God’s presence with “Mighty to Save” and “Good Good Father” before welcoming Kevin Hewitt, CCHO’s President & CEO, to the stage.

From there, employees from each of our ministries – CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling – shared stories and updates from their departments. Pastor Louie Pantelis, a former CCHO resident, shared the stage with CCHO’s Spiritual Coordinator Tim Hartzler for a fun and touching Pastor Q&A session, while Brandon Jurkovich brought the house down with an incredible spoken word performance about legacy.

The evening was punctuated by the debut of several original videos, which we will share in this space in the coming days, but the most moving portion of the evening was when Julie Kandel and her family were honored for their incredible foster and adoption journey. Please be on the lookout for her video soon.

Thank you so much to everyone who helped us celebrate such a momentous milestone, and for the role you will play in our next 50 years of ministry!

Photo Gallery

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A ceremonial start to our 50th Anniversary Weekend

Our weekend-long 50th Anniversary Celebration kicked off on Friday, June 7 with the official ribbon cutting for our new Children’s Leadership & Recreation Center (CLRC). Consisting of a middle school-sized gymnasium, commercial kitchen, cafeteria, classrooms and therapy spaces, the CLRC on our Wooster campus was made possible by generous Promise Project donors.

Many of those Promise Project donors joined us for the ribbon cutting Friday afternoon to see the unveiling of our major donor artwork. County Commissioner Becky Foster, the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce and a handful of CCHO staff members also were in attendance, and we read proclamations from Representatives Anthony Gonzalez and Scott Wiggam, and Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown. The afternoon was capped off with the presentation of the personalized ceremonial ground breaking shovel to Kevin Hewitt, CCHO’s President & CEO, and lunch in the Leadership Center.

This ribbon cutting symbolized our commitment to the continued development of our programming, staff and facilities as we enter the next 50 years of ministry. The CLRC gives our residential team the necessary space to deliver the vital therapy our young residents need as they overcome the trauma they’ve experienced while also allowing us to provide educational support and healthier eating options right here on campus.

If you would like to tour the CLRC or learn more about our campus in general, please contact Dan Franks at or 330.345.7949 ext. 2336.

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Certified Best Christian Workplace 2019

We are excited to announce for the third straight year, CCHO and our family of ministries have been certified as a 2019 Best Christian Workplace by the Best Christian Workplaces Institute (BCWI).

The first survey of Christian workplaces was published in Christianity Today magazine in 2003. This engagement survey helps churches, ministries and Christian-owned businesses measure the health of their workplace culture in eight areas: fantastic teams, life-giving work, outstanding talent, uplifting growth, rewarding compensation, inspirational leadership, sustainable strategy, and healthy communication.

“I am humbled and proud to serve alongside each of [our staff] as we help people experience their worth in Christ,” said CCHO’s President & CEO Kevin Hewitt. “I am grateful that our staff exemplifies what Paul wrote in Colossians 3:17: ‘And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.’”

Jeff Stump, director of facilities, added, “How awesome it is to see on a daily basis how our God uses a bunch of imperfect people who love Him, to bring love, hope, grace and mercy into the lives of hurting kids and families. [I am] honored to be a part of this family of ministries.”

BCWI’s mission is to equip and inspire Christian leaders to build a flourishing workplace. The organization has expanded to include Canadian, Australian, South African, United Kingdom, Albanian and Guatemalan ministry partners. View the full list of Best Christian Workplaces for 2019.

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Minister to hurting kids

The character and commitment of our staff members are critical to us serving our clients well. Treatment specialists, a key position within our children’s residential center team, directly care for the needs and safety of our youth clients. This role offers the unique opportunity to build relationships with kids and teens and model for them what a healthy adult looks like. This position receives specialized training in caring for children and teens with trauma. It’s a great opportunity to explore the social services career field and gain experience working alongside other clinical team members. More than that, the treatment specialist role is a ministry to hurting kids looking for hope and stability.

We asked our staff to share about their experiences as a treatment specialist. Tim Hartzler, now our campus spiritual coordinator, served as a treatment specialist in our teen boys cottage for several years. Read his words below.

Being a treatment specialist is difficult and frustrating yet fulfilling and rewarding all at the same time. It can be frustrating watching kids make choices that negatively impact their life, and frustrating when you can’t do anything to help them.

However, it is incredibly fulfilling when you see residents make positive choices and changes in their lives that they have been struggling with, sometimes for all of their lives. Knowing, at the end of the day, that I have served a greater purpose than my own wants or desires, to put someone else’s needs first, is an incredibly rewarding feeling.

My motivation to help our clients is seeing the world through their point of view. Seeing them the way my heavenly Father sees me. To see each one as a lost and broken child that is unable to understand and cope with the world in which they have been brought up. And needing the grace, strength and peace that only comes from Jesus.

The reason I have dedicated time and energy can be summed up in James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

What better way to show the love of our heavenly Father than to take care of those who are without a family. At the end of my life when I stand before God, I will not feel remorse over the difficulties I went through for these kids, but rather I will feel ashamed that I did not go through more for them.

Learn more about the treatment specialist position on our human resources page. We currently have openings on first, second and overnight shifts.

Treatment specialist applicants must be 21 and have a high school diploma/GED, valid driver’s license and reliable transportation. Treatment specialists are required to be able to restrain a client when necessary (training provided) and must be able to pass a pre-employment physical. References, background checks and drug screenings will be completed on all potential candidates. EOE.

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National Social Work Month

CCHO and our family of ministries is a social work agency. We believe in wrapping our clients with faith, love, relevant tools and supportive services to help them experience their worth in Christ and lead their best lives. We are deeply grateful for the countless contributions of our agency’s social workers throughout the year and acknowledge them especially this month in observance of National Social Work Month.

Each social worker’s day looks a little different depending on their area of service. Our organization utilizes social workers in homes, offices, schools, courtrooms and cottages. They provide mental health support and resource information. They come alongside individuals and families in times of crisis and help them make healthy choices for the future.

The following excerpt is from an interview with Kevin Hewitt, our president & CEO, originally printed in the Wooster Weekly News on March 25, 2013. A 25+ year social work veteran, he shares about the role of social workers and the motivation behind it.

“Social workers are the links that provide the services that our families need. They are aware from both a clinical standpoint and in a pragmatic way. They are wise in therapy techniques, and the empathy they have for kids and their ability to make connections, to find that child the right program they need and can flourish in . . . . Social workers are really taking up the cause of the powerless. Social workers give them a voice.”

“Social work really is showing somebody else that you value them. [It’s] the ability to bear one another’s burdens, to take some of the emotional baggage and pain and say, ‘you’re OK, we’re going to get through this.’ There’s tremendous value in that.”

Kevin continued, “In Scripture, we are repeatedly told to do good unto others, to love others. In Matthew 5:16, ‘that they see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.’ Or Ephesians 2:10, ‘For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared beforehand for us to do.’”

Our multi-site agency staff includes more than 30 professional social workers who serve others with leadership and compassion in this critical ministry career. They diligently work on behalf of others in need, and their relentless commitment brings restoration and healing for children, adults and families.

Ruth Aubrey, LISW-S
Alison Bartholomew, LSW
Necole Beitzel, LISW
Jessica Berry, LISW-S
Eleanor Brooks, LSW
Lindsay DeHaas, LSW
Alexandra Didato, LISW
Lenora Dotson, LSW
Kateri Ewing, LSW
Katherine Failor, LISW-S
Abby Fischer, LISW
Emily Frazier, LISW-S

Kristina Fryson, LSW
Valerie Grisak, LISW-S
Lisa Haberbusch, LISW-S
Kevin Hewitt, LSW
Brandon Jurkovich, LSW
Annita Justice, LSW
Candice Kocsis, LSW
Sarah Laubli, LSW
Sharon Mathias-Cain, LISW
Melissa McMullen, LSW
Alicia Miller, LSW
Rebecca Mollohan, LSW

Ronda Mullet, LSW
Shawn Pedani, LISW-S
Carla Plegge, LSW
Elizabeth Raynes, LSW
Tara Satterfield, LSW
Peggy Smith, LSW
Rebekah Smith, LSW
Glenn Sprunger, LSW
Julie Tuel, LSW
David Yoder, LISW-S
Renee Young, LSW

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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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Foster parents are invaluable

Foster parents are invaluable to CCHO’s ministry in helping kids experience their worth in Christ. They provide safety, security, love, compassion and support for children when they need it the most.

How does fostering fit into our children’s residential program?

Children at CCHO are working personalized programs with specific goals tailored to their needs and circumstances. These goals include plans for completing their programs, leaving CCHO with new skills, and reentering family environments. Ideally children are reunified with their biological family. When that isn’t possible, children are matched with foster parents with the possibility of this home becoming a forever home.

CCHO specializes in caring for kids with trauma in their background. Kids who successfully complete our program will do best in foster homes that understand how trauma impacts a developing young person. These families have participated in specific trainings such as TBRI so they can better care for children affected by abuse and neglect.

The need for foster parents is great. Research indicates that there will be more than 20,000 Ohio children in custody of their respective counties by 2020 due to a host of reasons with the opioid epidemic being a leading cause.

We invite you to learn more about Encourage Foster Care, one of our ministries with an amazing team to support you professionally and personally. From day one we desire to set you up for success in your role. Encourage’s Director Shawn Pedani, LISW-S, has written a blog on what it takes to be an influential foster parent.

First and foremost: foster parents are adaptable and flexible. They roll with the punches and don’t give into power plays with their youth. They frequently let their foster child(ren) have the last word. They have great self-awareness and recognize that everything doesn’t have to become a battle. Some Encourage foster parents say that parenting can’t always be structured with black and white thinking. The gray areas include the reasons why kids do what they do. Foster parents need to be openminded and use genuine empathy–at all times.

(Read the full article.)

Encourage hosts in depth foster parent pre-service training multiple times each year. Visit our training page for information and contact Heather Huebner, Recruitment and Engagement Specialist at or 330.462.1118 with your questions.

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Cottage family nights

Our children’s residential center gives kids the opportunity to experience how a healthy family functions. Perhaps for you, some of your favorite childhood memories include family nights—nights to simply stay home with your loved ones and enjoy your favorite foods and movies or games. Each weekend our cottages do just that. Every resident is allowed to participate in family night. Their current behavior status determines how many privileges are included in their evening fun. These positive social experiences give them something to look forward to as well as provide encouragement and connection in their healing process.

Looking for a fun and unique way to give as a family? We invite you to consider a special donation to family nights. Below are some of the requested items for these cottage events.

Movie-sized boxes of candy (such as):

  • Sour Patch Kids
  • M&M’s
  • Swedish Fish Gummy
  • Nerds
  • Starbursts
  • Milk Duds
  • Reese Pieces
  • Mike N Ikes


Individual bottles of non-caffeinated drinks:

  • Pop
  • Juice pouches or boxes
  • Water
  • Gatorade

DVD wish list (please note these should not be Blu-Ray):

  • Incredibles 1 and 2
  • Iron Man
  • Iron Man 2
  • Iron Man 3
  • Hulk Movies
  • Maze Runner: The Death Cure
  • Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails
  • Lego Batman
  • Lego Movie
  • Home Alone
  • Home Along 2: Lost in New York
  • Home Alone 3
  • Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House
  • Home Alone: The Holiday Heist

If you would like to make a gift, please contact Lauren at to coordinate your efforts and ensure that we don’t receive duplicate movies. You may also choose to make a financial gift online at

Thank you for giving our kids the opportunity to just be kids.

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