When CCHO was founded in 1969, one married couple in one farmhouse provided a safe place to stay for three to five kids at one time. Today, our family of ministries regularly serves more than 1,000 children and adults each month from nearly 20 different regional locations.
Through five decades of ministry, we have been privileged to watch broken people, broken families, and broken hearts be made new by a loving and redemptive God. To celebrate everything God has done in and through our agency, we shared 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry throughout 2019. These stories came from all corners of our ministry: former CCHO residents as well as past and present counseling clients and foster care families and children; current and former employees and board members; volunteers and long-time donors; and supporting churches.
Find all 50 stories below, plus a bonus post that wrapped up the series.
We ask, Lord, that Your presence always graces us, that our words and actions reflect Your heart for people. We ask that You give us eyes to see the hurting and the broken, to see people as You do. May You give us the opportunity to reach even more people for You in the coming decades.
Karon first stepped foot on CCHO’s Wooster campus in November of 1981 when her parents, Tim and Pat McKelley, were hired as house parents in Cottage 2. This year, Karon celebrated her 25th work anniversary. What a way to wrap up our story series!
I continue to be involved with CCHO in volunteer capacities. I co-chair the mission team at Orrville Christian Church, which is supporting church of CCHO. CCHO will always have a special place in my heart.
As we prepared to celebrate our 50th anniversary here at CCHO and our family of ministries, we started poring through old photo albums filled with rich, wonderful history. As this 50th year winds down, please enjoy 50 photos from our five decades of ministry.
Today, we invite you to learn more about Esperanza de Ana, an affiliated ministry based in western South America, in story #47 of our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series.
The youth in our residential center may not wake up in their own homes with their own families on Christmas morning, but because of kind and loyal supporters, they do wake up to an astonishing example of love.
Amidst the heartache of grief and loss in the foster care system, our staff at Encourage has had the opportunity to witness the joy of adoption with many families throughout the last year. In fact, 12 children will finalize adoptions this year.
Katie needed to feel safe. She needed to feel loved. Thanks to donors like you, Katie found the support, therapy and love she needed at CCHO. She was baptized during her time at CCHO, and today she lives with a new foster family. Katie wanted to say “thank you” for all you’ve done for her!
I was told that this was a place where I would feel loved not just by the staff, but by God. Individual therapy sessions, group therapy, wish circles, rules to be followed (and broken at times), boundaries to be aware of, sharing a cottage with eight teenagers. Some days — many days — it was more than I could handle.
In story #42 of our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series, Kristina Fryson (MSW, LSW, CTT) shows the powerful difference that effective trauma treatment can make in someone’s life.
Not every season and every case are created equal, but if given the opportunity to build a bridge with bio families, I encourage you to take the first step. It has drawn a map straight to our hearts about forgiveness, redemption and purpose in the pain.
I entered foster care at age four. By the time I was 15, I already had 13 homes including a failed adoption under my belt. Bouncing from home to home, I was subjected to physical and sexual abuse by several abusers. When I was 15, I finally found the courage to tell someone, and doing so unleashed a massive amount of fear and trauma that I’d been holding in for years.
CCHO has been a part of my life for at least 20 years. During that time, God has filled this relationship with a combination of wonder, trial, excitement and purpose.
Since leaving CCHO, I graduated high school and then served four years in the Marines. I started a family and transitioned into a new career. I became an electrician, but I didn’t stop there.
The man against whom this girl testified and had to face had gone free. Naturally, this invoked some pretty intense behaviors such as self-harm and running away, but guess who was there with her walking down the road, asking to stay with her and showing her unconditional love all the same. Rebekah!
James 1:27 calls God’s people to meet the needs of children living as orphans. Brian and Julie Ziegler answered that call by joining the Encourage Foster Care network. Learn more about their story and how Encourage equips them with the support and resources they need as foster and adoptive parents.
As a first-time VBS director this year for Meadow View Church of Christ, I was asked to choose a mission to support with our VBS donations. My associate minister suggested that I look into CCHO as a choice and was told our church may also be planning a mission trip there at the end of the summer.
How do you show appreciation to staff who consistently fight for the highest good of others? Who walk alongside those in pain, laughing with some, groaning with others, but connecting through it all? Who help others experience their worth in Christ? These are difficult questions to answer because it is impossible to accurately depict how much we – how much I – appreciate our staff.
As an intensive trauma therapist in the Thrive Trauma Recovery program at Encompass Christian Counseling, it’s standard to work with clients for a week or two and then wish them well on their recovery journey as they return to ongoing mental health services. Although all clients have a special story and are memorable, some clients’ stories stick with you long after their treatment in the program has ended.
We are so grateful for the collection of caring churches that have supported CCHO and our family of ministries over the past five decades. Without the fundraising dollars they’ve contributed, the hours upon hours of volunteer help they’ve provided, the steady stream of prayers they’ve lifted on our behalf, and all the other ways they have been involved, there would be countless children, adults and families who were never given an opportunity to find hope and healing on the other side of their pain.
What started in 1994 as a small fundraiser for CCHO in our 25th year of ministry has now become an annual event, 25 years later, that allows our family of ministries to continue providing services and support for children, adults and families in need.
On Monday, August 26 at 8:00 in the morning, 15 teams will tee off for the first of 36 holes at our Caring4Kids Golf Outing. As we head into the final months of our year-long 50th anniversary celebration, it’s only fitting that this marks the 25th edition of our annual golf outing.
In 1981, Gary Shire was given a vision from God that became Sons of God Motorcycle Club Ministry. Since our humble beginnings in Mansfield, Ohio, the SOGMC has grown across the United States and Canada, with multiple chapters spread throughout 25 states and Canada.
I believe that God directed the county to choose CCHO because it was what my son needed to help him become the man God created him to be. He learned that love is unconditional and that moms can be trusted.
During the early months of 2010, the Mid-Ohio Corvette Club (MOCC) met to discuss our largest endeavor of the year. We had always chosen our yearly fundraiser on the basis of the recipient’s overall need. After learning that Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO) was focused on nurturing young girls and boys who may never have received warmth from a home environment otherwise, we were excited to pick CCHO.
On July 11, 1997, a little girl was born to a single mom. That young mom was a former CCHO resident. Due to many circumstances, this baby came to live with my wife Susan and me only a few weeks after being born.
That was the first time I saw Brent cry. He regretted that he would leave CCHO without being baptized. Then his peer spoke up, “That’s no problem. You’ll just get baptized with me!”
I’d like to take you on a trip back to 2008. I had just earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Malone College and was applying for nursing jobs close to home. One Sunday morning, Gary Porter, CCHO’s longtime Executive Director, spoke at my church about the mission, growth and needs of Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO). I had never heard of CCHO but I felt a tugging in my spirit that day.
Our group from Fairlawn Mennonite Church in Apple Creek, Ohio has been regularly volunteering with CCHO since June 2018. We have been coming one or two Saturdays each month to spend time playing with the kids and sharing devotions and prayer with them. We love supporting CCHO because we are able to see the growth in the kids from month to month, and we know they are seeing Christ in the work of the staff and volunteers.
Once upon a time…. Probably the most famous opening line of a story.
Several CCHO employees share their vision for what’s ahead for our family of ministries and what “More” might look like over the next 50 years.
Late in my sophomore year I learned that my foster parents were moving to Florida. As a I ward of the state, I would not be moving with them. Toward the end of that school year, my caseworker told me, “If we do not find some place for you soon, we will have to place you in a juvenile correction facility.” I had done nothing to deserve being placed in a correctional facility. I was five-foot nothing tall, weighed 87 pounds, and the thought of being placed in a correctional facility terrified me.
When Julie Kandel and her husband Ron began their foster and adoption journey in 1991, they couldn’t have imagined they would one day have 18 children (including three biological daughters). Theirs is an incredible story of answering God’s call for their lives and their family, of trusting during each step of the process, and of persevering through incredible tragedy to provide a safe haven for young children in need of a loving home.
When new residents arrive at CCHO, our therapy team writes a guided imagery narrative from the perspective of the child. These narratives are designed to take the reader on a journey through each child’s past while describing their fears, abuse and trauma in detail. Listening to the guided imagery helps CCHO’s residential staff fully understand what the child has been through so they can approach negative behaviors with empathy and compassion.
It is an honor to walk alongside people like Ashley, who has found health and healing for herself and her family during her time as an Encompass Christian Counseling client.
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.
As we prepare to gather for our 50th celebration this weekend, we are especially grateful for our community partners who support our mission. They play an important role in helping individuals and families find healing throughout our family of ministries.
A lot changes in one decade, let alone five. The world is fundamentally different today in so many ways than it was when CCHO started in a single farmhouse in 1969.
Helping meet the needs of our residential youth takes a lot of hands and partners. We are especially grateful for the kindness of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. There are good days and growing days in our children’s residential center. With the often unpredictable behavior of youth with trauma, there are times when the sheriff’s office makes frequent visits to campus.
I came to CCHO in August 1971 and lived there until I graduated [high school] in June 1975. I was the second resident in the program and still go back often just to visit. I feel that CCHO’s work then and now was and is very helpful to so many. My memories are numerous but here are a few.
When you hear people talk about foster care and adoption, you often hear about a broken system, damaged children and a whole litany of all the challenges, difficulties and reasons to stay away rather than get involved. At Encourage we see the heartache our foster parents experience when they grieve the loss of separation from a foster child they loved as their own.
I met Mia last summer when she first became a resident in our Young Girls Cottage. I was working as a treatment specialist in a different cottage at the time, so I only got to see her every so often. I was immediately struck by Mia’s kindness, openness and her bright, vibrant personality.
I was 16 years old when I came to CCHO. I was a lost, angry teenager, but the love and support of CCHO helped mold me into the woman I am today.
Fifty years ago today, on a Tuesday evening at Rittman First Church of Christ, 12 men were selected as members of the interim Board of Directors for Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO). Several months later, one of those men would become CCHO’s first executive director while also serving with his wife as the organization’s first set of house parents.
When I first met Josie, I met a powerhouse of a young woman; she presented as a strong, independent teenager with something to prove to the world. She was fluent in psychology, philosophy, and teenager, and she had an opinion about every current issue facing our nation.
Joey was a kindergarten student when I started working with him. He had the typical chubby cheeks of a kindergartener. He was missing his two front teeth and had the most stunning eye color.
As the Discipleship Minister at Discover Christian Church in Dublin, Ohio, I have led our annual CCHO men’s mission trip for the past 10 years. Our senior minister and I discussed how long Discover has been involved with CCHO. While neither of us can remember when it all started, we know it’s been at least 20 years!
From the first employee hired in 1969 to our most recent group of new hires, thousands of men and women have served at CCHO and our family of ministries. They have served by caring enough to step into the pain and hurt of life to offer hope and peace.
It’s not easy being a foster parent. In fact, many foster parents would say opening their hearts and homes to children in need is the hardest thing they’ve ever done.
Each day, employees of our family of ministries aim to uphold our three core values: relentless commitment, selflessness and kindness. We believe our interactions with the children, adults and families we serve throughout our three ministries, as well as our interactions with fellow employees, should be infused with these values.
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.