Excitement, nervousness, and anticipation were all words used by the three seniors Jian, C.J., and Preston at STCH Ministries Homes for Children (HFC) to describe their feelings towards college. For the three of them, attending college was not something that they thought would be possible before coming to HFC.
WHEN A CHILD comes into care at HFC, they are getting more than just a temporary home; they are entering into a family that will love and care for them long after they leave. One way that STCH Ministries extends their love is by providing programs to help prepare them for life after high school. STCH Ministries also provides full college scholarships to the children that graduate from high school while in care and maintain the proper grades while in college. For most children, this is a dream come true.
Support is a big part of what happens on campus to help prepare the children for their future. Their houseparents are there to help them with school work, housework, money management, and other aspects to prepare them for the “real world”. Anna Piprek, College Transition Coordinator for HFC, is there to help with the transition and continues to support them while they are in college. She encourages them to do better and to strive for excellence in everything they do. Anna was fortunate to partner with the Junior Service League in Beeville as the seniors were given the opportunity to explore various professions. “It is my hope that through this program we can provide them with the support, accountability, and preparation they need to succeed,” Anna explains.
As they prepare for college, the three seniors and their houseparents look back at their time with STCH Ministries.
Jian came to HFC a little over two years ago and lives in Brown Cottage on Boothe Campus. “He didn’t have confidence in himself when he got here. He’s super smart so most people don’t know how to take him,” his houseparents, Dustin and Victoria Gordon describe. Since being at STCH Ministries, he has grown in his confidence and the ability to interact better with those around him. “He isn’t afraid to say ‘this is who I am’,” Victoria explains. He has also grown spiritually and physically. He started working out with his housepop, Dustin, and now chooses to work out at least one hour a day. Through the Junior Service League, he was given the opportunity to shadow at BTX CrossFit in Beeville. He shadowed the trainers and learned how they do some of their workouts.
When asked what his favorite part about being at HFC was, he stated, “always having food in the pantry!” So, it comes as no surprise that he is most looking forward to the food in the cafeteria while at college. Dustin and Victoria’s prayer for him is, “that he is armed well enough to defend his religious beliefs and doesn’t get knocked down; that he doesn’t give up on what he thinks he wants and figuring it out.” Jian plans to attend Texas A&M Kingsville to study Computer Engineering.
For Preston, STCH Ministries has helped him grow in his school work and housework. “Without STCH, I really wouldn’t be where I am today, because before I wasn’t really the brightest at school, but now with STCH Ministries I have straight A’s; I tutor after school; I have a scholarship. Incredible!” he exclaims. Preston came to HFC a little over a year ago and lives in Foster Cottage. His houseparents, Terry and Sheila Backen, describe Preston as someone who, “is always doing projects, there is nothing he can’t do.” Since coming to HFC, he has gained the confidence and drive to help out more around the house and with daily chores. “He has learned his value,” Sheila explains. Preston is interested in science and through the Junior Service League, he enjoyed a day of shadowing at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in Beeville.
While at school in Pettus, he was part of the Art Honors program and helped tutor ACE (Afterschool Centers on Education) students. When asked how STCH Ministries has prepared him for college, he shared that, “it taught me how to deal with a roommate.” An answer to a prayer for Terry and Sheila is that he will be living with his roommate from HFC next year and they know the two boys will hold each other accountable. Terry and Sheila’s prayer for him as he goes off to college is, “that he will continue to gain confidence and find the right fit for himself; that he continues to seek God and God’s plan for his life.” Preston plans to attend Coastal Bend College in Beeville to study Information Technology.
Preston’s roommate C.J., has also experienced some changes since coming to STCH Ministries a year ago. “I am glad I found STCH because it led me to finding God and Jesus, and ever since then my life has had lots of new doors open, including college.” Over the last year, C.J. has grown as a leader and role model to the children around him, but at the same time, he has been able to experience what it means to really be a kid. While at Pettus High School, he volunteered as a tutor with the elementary ACE students after school. Terry and Sheila shared, “he has an ability to work with kids and help them in different ways.”
C.J. is also interested in physical activity such as working out and was able, through the Junior Service League, to shadow at BTX CrossFit in Beeville. “It was a new experience, and I wasn’t expecting it to be as cool as it was,” he admits. He was also given the opportunity to shadow a photographer as she captured and edited pictures. Terry and Sheila’s prayer for him as he goes on is, “That he would continue to seek the Lord and establish himself. For him to be a blessing to his family without having to give up himself.” C.J. plans to attend Coastal Bend College in Beeville and will be studying Videography.
Graduating and preparing for college can sometimes be difficult. For more than 66 years, STCH Ministries has provided love and support to help make things a little easier as each child transitions either to college or a vocation. Knowing there is a place they can come back to when they need someone to talk to or just need their laundry done helps ease worried minds. The houseparents want their boys to know, “God has a special plan for them and they can do anything they set their minds to; they don’t need to be afraid to GO! And DO!”
Greg Huskey, Vice President of Homes for Children, talks about what this ministry means. “We enjoy and celebrate with our ex-students of their accomplishments. STCH Ministries is a relational based ministry which hopefully and gratefully extends for a lifetime of ministry with our students.” The seniors that are moving on this year may have only been here for a short period of time but for them, this is more than just a temporary home, this is a family.