ISABEL’S STORY BEGAN in darkness. With trauma woven throughout her youngest years, patterns of neglect and abuse plagued her childhood. STCH Ministries entered the picture more than a decade later. At Homes for Children, Isabel finally found the consistent care, attunement and unconditional love that her early formative years lacked—and her life would never be the same.
At age two, Isabel left the foster care system and entered a family through adoption. While care within the bounds of a family unit is ideal for most children, this specific environment did not meet her needs. With seven brothers and sisters in the same house, she felt the weight of her unpredictable home. As she entered her teenage years, Isabel felt alone and helpless. She held anger in her body and lacked the ability to relationally connect with others. In short, Isabel needed to process the traumas experienced in her first 14 years of life.
In 2012, Isabel arrived at Homes for Children. On a hot August day, she stepped onto Boothe Campus with one bag of clothes in hand. With painful memories of foster care and adoption, she held little hope that this environment would be any different. “When I first arrived, I hated it,” Isabel recalls. “There were so many rules. But I always told everyone that it was better than where I was before.”
On campus, Isabel lived in a cottage that functioned like a traditional home. When she experienced bouts of anger, her houseparents held space for the big emotions, and they felt empathy for the heartache behind the hate. With a Christian faith guiding their parenting techniques, their inner peace slowly became contagious through quiet words, calm tones and gentle hugs when she expressed overwhelming feelings.
Over time, Isabel grew accustomed to the new way of life at Homes for Children as she found certainty in her physical and emotional safety on campus. “The environment change was big for me,” said Isabel. “They didn’t punish me like I was used to. The love and attention I received was so big. I spewed a lot of hate to my houseparents, but they always returned the words with love no matter what I did or said. They still loved me, and they always took care of me.”
As Isabel progressed through her high school years, she thought about what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. As the college admissions process began, she narrowed her focus to human science, family development and psychology. She assumed these fields of study might provide a window of insight into previous life experiences while offering techniques to break the cycle for future generations.
On an early fall afternoon, Isabel’s houseparents drove her to college, and the next chapter of life began. With strong bonds formed during her high school years, this proved to be an emotional moment for everyone. “The children’s home was like a family,” said Isabel. “I wrote a poem about it during college. I included a lot of metaphors—a home that’s not your home. People love you and take care of you. They give you literally everything you need.”
Following her college graduation, Isabel pursued an MBA in Houston. As she graduated from the rigorous master’s program, she fully recognized God’s guidance throughout her life. That week, memories from her past resurfaced. Most notably, she felt grateful for her time at
Homes for Children. “Not everyone gets to go to a children’s home, and often, they struggle for the rest of their lives,” said Isabel. “I was lucky enough to get this support. It was definitely life changing for me.”
Today, Isabel searches for the right career for her unique skill set and finds fulfillment in her current work driving routes for a large shipping and delivery company. She feels confident that the right job will soon come her way. “I can use my MBA in any industry,” said Isabel. And while she waits for career direction, she is moving ahead with paperwork to take her houseparents’ last name. “I felt unconditional love from my houseparents,” said Isabel. “You can see God in their decisions and how they move about the world. They’re inspirational.”
Isabel feels appreciative for the time spent at Homes for Children. She recognizes that not all children get to experience the same love that she found, and she thinks about her brothers and sisters with a heavy heart. “My siblings have struggled with homelessness, crime or living without an education,” said Isabel. “I owe so much to the children’s home. I have my own apartment now, two beautiful German Shepherds, an education and a job.”
While living in Houston as a young adult, Isabel witnessed her relationship with Christ grow deeper. She encountered two distressing situations while living on her own, but during those times, she relied on her faith and the consistent support of her houseparents. With a life rooted in truth, Isabel felt mentally strong during these difficult experiences. She confidently reached out to
others for support, saying, “If you are willing to do the work, your life can change for the better.”
Isabel often remembers her younger self with empathy. “I always felt so broken, sad and depressed as a child,” she said. “But if I wouldn’t have gone to the children’s home, my life would have been cut short by tragedy.” When harrowing memories resurface, she finds comfort in her favorite Bible verse, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
She views her teenage years at STCH Ministries with nostalgia. “Life was so much simpler at Homes for Children,” said Isabel. “I’m just grateful and thankful. When you’re young at the children’s home, you don’t appreciate it all, but once you leave, you look back fondly.”
The team at STCH Ministries recently video called Isabel to hear about life in Houston. After the conversation, they mentioned that someone else wanted to say hello. A few moments later, STCH Ministries vice president of campus ministries, Greg Huskey, appeared on the screen. Their faces lit up when they saw each other. After a few minutes of small talk, he said, “This was the best part of my day today. I miss you. Please know you can come back whenever you want. You’re always welcome. We’re so proud of you. We love you. Keep rocking and rolling.”
This brief conversation exemplifies the kind of support that children at Boothe Campus receive every day. From houseparents to counselors, STCH Ministries staff members pour into the lives of vulnerable children with little reminders that their presence is always wanted and they are doing a good job. Children who feel alone find a family that pursues them. Children who feel the effects of neglect find adults who care about their physical and mental wellbeing. And children who experience the horrors of abuse find safety and security within the bounds of Boothe Campus. Isabel built this strong network of support at Homes for Children, and today, she is thriving in adulthood and living a life she never dreamed possible.