Boys and Girls Homes Blog

   
 CREATE Hope Program Logo  Health, healing and hope

By Melissa Hopkins

How many times have you heard it? When you are looking to get healthier the simple, "Move more and eat less." Yet a true health journey goes beyond the physical. It requires an exploration of mental, emotional and spiritual health.

   
Creative Inspiration

By Melissa Hopkins

Hanging on the bulletin board of my office is a sheet of paper with a collection of random thoughts, quotes and phrases I have put together over time. While trying to figure out next steps, I will often look at the sheet in an attempt to find inspiration.

   
 Light house crafts Light of the World

By Jennie Weeks

I love making things with my hands. When I was a little girl, my sisters and I would watch our mother sew, and we decided we could make stuffed animals out of some of her extra fabric and some fake fur material she splurged on for us to be able to make teddy bears. Then, with our wagon attached to one of our bicycles we would ride through the neighborhood trying to sell our creations for a little ice cream money. We didn't become rich in our endeavor, but we did learn that being creative was an important part of being a child... and for that matter, an important part of being a human created in God's image as creator.

   
The Weird Place

By Melissa Hopkins

I found myself in a weird place the other day. I had completed all the steps I could on my current projects and was waiting on feedback from multiple sources to allow me to continue the work. I took a moment to review my list of projects again, hoping that there was something, even small, that was in my control to complete. With nothing truly falling into that category, I look up at my list of random, comical and inspirational sayings to see the top phrase – “What’s next?”

   
 Back to school with book and fallen leaf The first day of school

By Melissa Hopkins

“Are you going to take our back to school pictures?” my youngest daughter asked.

Back to school photos are something we have done in my family for generations, but like so many other traditions, the past year has taken us out of the routine so the tradition wasn’t even on my radar.

   
 Longtime volunteer Betty Hurst Honoring the memory

By Melissa Hopkins

I remember walking into my first Pinehurst Ladies Luncheon as an employee of Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina. I was nervous, but the woman at the registration table quickly greeted me with a room brightening smile. She was so kind and reassuring and I learned that her name was Betty Hurst. At that same event, she was honored for being one of the honorary grandparents of the children served by BGHNC due to her financial and volunteer contributions.
   
 Lake Waccamaw at sunset  Greetings from Beautiful Lake Waccamaw

By Dr. Mason Fuller Smith

"Greetings from beautiful Lake Waccamaw, where the birds are chirping, the gators are grunting, and the children are laughing!" With those words I begin every Boys and Girls Homes presentation for club meetings, Zooms, conventions, and churches. It is a tagline that says much about who we are as an organization. Each word evokes meaning and feeling that sets a mental mood and tells a word story.
   
 Train cars in motion toward the sun Locomotive Momentum

By President/CEO Ricky Creech

Growing up, my grandparents had a railroad track that ran behind their house. I remember loving to cross the tracks to play in the dense woods. Sometimes trains would stop, sometimes pass slowly, and other times speed through the area. Let's put this in a visual:
   
 Holt and Jerry Parrish Generational Success

By Melissa Hopkins

On May 27, 2021, Holt Daniel Parrish of Raleigh graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Commissioning as a Second Lieutenant as an Engineers Officer. Among those celebrating this accomplishment was Holt's grandfather Jerry Parrish. For him, this celebration went beyond the incredible achievements of his grandson. It was a celebration of the continued confirmation that the cycle of abuse and neglect he experienced in his youth has been fully broken for a second generation.
   
 Prayer week crafts including a paper stained glass prayer window, prayer beads, and prayer flags A study in crafts

By Jennie Weeks

One of my areas of responsibility at Boys and Girls Homes is Coordinator of Spiritual Formation for the residents. This involves providing a weekly Bible Study and Craft activity that compliments the there that we are focusing on that week. Over the past several months we have looked at what scripture teaches us about love, the Holy Spirit, prayer, finding balance in our lives, and dealing with fear and anxiety. This past week we looked at the topic of freedom to coincide with the 4th of July celebration.
   
 A dirt path that splits in two on the horizon Experience of Choice

By Melissa Hopkins

When I worked in different leadership positions, I always tried to provide opportunities for collaboration. As I hate micromanagement, I worked very hard to set the expectations for the finished project and not focus on how to get to that point.
   
 A handwritten note from a youth in The Harbor at the Lake Emergency Shelter From Grievance to Gratitude

By John Cobb

Change is hard for everyone, but especially for the youth we serve. With the full implementation of the "Waccamaw Way," we have seen a dramatic increase in grievances, which is the formal process that our youth can use to address their complaints or concerns. In the last two months, we have had 18 grievances. While that may not sound like a lot, we had one in the six month previous. The Human Rights Specialist and I meet to discuss the content of each grievance and brainstorm possible resolutions and then she meets with the youth to hear their grievance and come up with solutions.
   
 Visual representation of the transformation of a butterfly When Change Happens

By Amber Payne

Change is never easy. It can be painful, frustrating and difficult, and not everyone is open to it. With change comes a lot of emotions. You can be happy, sad, and angry all at once. As humans, we tend to look at change as a bad thing, which isn't always the case.
   
Person walking the line between barren and fertile land The Power of the I Am

By Rhonda Harvey

In recent years, the understanding of the power of the spoken word has intrigued me. We tend to define ourselves based on our opinions and the opinions of those around us. But often, we do not understand that we are blurting out words that either bless or "curse" ourselves and teach those around us how to view themselves. We do not understand the power of the words we say.
   
 Thomas Academy Class of 2021 Cap Toss The Promise

By George Ward III

This past weekend several Thomas Academy students walked across a stage to receive their high school diplomas. The walk signifies a journey the students began many years ago that stretched at least 13 years, sometimes longer. Along the way, many faced various obstacles, circumstances, or trials that could have brought their path to success to a grinding halt. Each Thomas Academy graduate has a long, descriptive sotry of their way to coming to the school and now graduating. It is important to finish what you start. One story of a young man embodies this message. His story started long before I came to Thomas Academy.
   
  Stepping Up

By Mike Garrell

For several years the vision had been for the Boys and Girls Homes of NC carwash to be run and managed by the team of youth from BGHNC. We were unable to find the right timing and leadership to make this vision a reality until December 2020.
   
 Glass blowing in front of a fire Change and the Fine Art of Glass Making

By John Cobb

That is a stunning example of glass blowing and the fine art it is. And this piece isn't even finished as the artist has inserted it into the intense heat behind to continue molding and shaping, further preparing the piece for presentation. But it didn't start here.

   
 Kiwanis One Day 2021 at B&GH work group Grateful and Gracious Friend

By Dr. Mason Fuller Smith

"Thank you so much for all you do for us!"

It never fails. Every time I receive from a club or individual a financial contribution or a donation of supplies for cottages, or whenever a group of volunteers completes a work project, they inevitably utter those gracious words - thanking Boys and Girls Homes for helping THEM.

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 Huddle with hands in center Not Alone - A Teacher's Perspective

By Robbie Fore

7:57 am. That's when I knew something was off. She walks in quietly, hood on. I say, "Hey." She gives a quiet "Hey in response. She sits and doesn't say anything else, just stares ahead.

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 A Sign of Hope in the stormy waves In the Aftermath

By Harrington Ward

An "event" is defined as a thing that happens, especially one of importance. So let's set some groundwork, shall we? First, every event is a thing that happens, thus making everything that happens an experience. We experience events, both great and small, good and bad. The good ones tend to leave us feeling warm and gooey inside - accomplished and proud.

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 Woman sitting on rocks by the ocean at sunrise Success or Significance?

By Jennie Weeks

For 42 years I worked at a large church in Kentucky, focusing on spiritual formation for adults. When I retired last summer, I felt lost. My church had provided not only a job, but a place that fed me spiritually, provided friendships and was the primary source of my social interactions. To make matters worse, Covid had shut down most of the things I enjoyed doing during my free time and most places weren't accepting new volunteers during the pandemic.

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 Lillies in a field Spring has arrived

By Sarah Creech, BSN, RN

Each season holds a certain charm and promise. Summer brings with it the importance of warmth in our daily life. Fall shows us that change and transition are beautiful and a necessary part of life. Winter shows us that change can be hard and cold but we can always make it to the next season, Spring.

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 Silhouetted boys playing football in the sunset Recreational Learning

By Ray Cockrell

Always keep learning! This is a lesson I have tried to teach my boys and one we strive toward here on campus, both with our residents and our staff. It seems we are learning new things and new ways of doing old things every day. Sometimes it is fun and helpful to re-learn things you learned years ago. This hit home recently with me personally and to our program here on campus.

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 Bible open at the alter of Leamon Rogers Memorial Chapel  "What Does God Want Me To Learn Today?"

By Amber Payne

One question you should ask yourself everyday is "What does God want me to learn today?" Everyday God wants us to learn something, whether that be patience, active listening, showing love, or having trust in someone. God always has a lesson for us to learn.

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 Adult waiting with open arms for running child Prodigal

By Rhonda Harvey

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the one about the Prodigal Son. I have written a small book about it, so I have studied it. The biggest part is everyone, in some manner, can relate to this inspiring story. At some point, you have to decide what you were going to do with God and how you view Him.

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 Hands In Huddle  Join Our Team!

By President/CEO Ricky Creech

Bud Wilkinson states, "If a team is to reach its potential, each player must be willing to subordinate his personal goals to the good of the team."

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 Carter G Woodson  Motivated by Purpose

By George Ward III

Many of us spend many hours, days, and years searching for the "one thing" that will sustain our journey in life or help guide our path. What event, circumstance, or idea will provide us with the focus necessary to achieve success? One educator who I look to as an example is Carter G. Woodson. Woodson was a teacher and principal committed to improving the educational experience of a neglected group of students.

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 Human Traffic Hotspots Map courtesy of ploarisproject.org
(photo courtesy of https://polarisproject.org/2018-us-national-human-trafficking-hotline-statistics/)
 Human Trafficking Awareness Month January 2021

By Rev. John Cobb

This is a map of human trafficking hotspots nationwide. Can you even see North Carolina?

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 Easter Star photo Easter Star

By Dr. Mason Fuller Smith

Sometimes cold and frosty mornings linger into the spring like a party guest who doesn't know that it is time to go on home. It was one of those kinds of mornings, an Easter morning in fact, that my daddy woke me up in the middle of my deepest sleep and urged me to follow him out the door and into the yard, still dark from a moonless morning.

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 Mindset change graphic Change from within

By Melissa Hopkins

The start of 2021 has been much like what we saw and experienced in 2020. The world is continuing to change at a rapid pace and even as an adult I find myself struggling to make sense of all of the chaos and change.

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Destined for Greatness?

By Melissa Hopkins

On a Saturday morning in late fall, I had the pleasure of attending the Saturday morning worship service in our Leamon Rogers Memorial Chapel.

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 Teenagers holding up question marks over their faces Future Visionaries

By Melissa Hopkins

It is the time of year when many people reflect on the past year and set goals for the future.

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 Grinch in Santa Costume  The Real Grinch That Steals Christmas

By Rev. John Cobb

The Real Grinch That Steals Christmas (and other days too....) a special Christmas Blog Post for you.

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 A rooom decorated for Christmas  A Different Kind of Holiday

By Melissa Hopkins

This year's holiday season has hit me a bit differently.

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 Half circles and straight lines graphic representation  Moving in Half Circles

By Melissa Hopkins

My daughter Lorelei recently shared an interesting tidbit about the stage choreography for the award-winning musical "Hamilton."

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Becoming Better

By George Ward

We are at that time of year in which we customarily make resolutions that initially are very noble, but frequently forgotten with a few weeks. I follow an education colleague from afar, who has a brand, BecomeBetter, which creates inspirational videos and apparel to encourage people to be the best version of themselves. This idea of daily becoming better has resonated with me and has enhanced my personal and professional goals.

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 Leamon Rogers Memorial Chapel  Nourishing blessing

By Dr. Mason Fuller Smith

It was like someone handing me an unexpected cool and refreshing bottle of ice water when I was working hard on a hot summer day. That's the best way to describe the unexpected and deeply nourishing blessing that I received the other day upon entering the Boys and Girls Homes Chapel. Like one laboring in the heat, my spirit was in need of some replenishment, and boy did I receive some!

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 Teenager walking alone on a straight road  The Straight-Line to Adulthood

By Mike Garrell

I am sure when you were a young teenager you did all the things your parents asked you to do. The list of chores and rules for adolescents is long - clean up your room, brush your teeth, come home on time, don't talk back, help with the dishes and the list goes on. I am sure you smiled at your mom or dad and said, "yes, I would be happy to help the family by pitching in right away."

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Change is Hard

By Rev. John Cobb

We are living in a time of rapid change. If you look back at what your expectations were in January of this year, I am willing to guess they were vastly different from what you actually experienced.

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 Horses grazing in a field Equine Therapy

By Rhonda Harvey

Civilizations have recognized equine therapy as a highly effective therapy tool that is beneficial and they have used it for centuries. It was first recognized in ancient Greece around 600 BC in the writings of Orbasis in ancient Lydia.

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 President Emeritus Gary Faircloth Retirement Reflections

By Retired President Gary Faircloth

This year has been one of rapid and unexpected change. For me, this has included the decision to retire from Boys and Girls Homes so I can support the needs of my amazing and beautiful wife of 50 years.

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 A group of donors in the activity center with games and outdoor play equipment Love Made Visible, Part 2

By Kristen Dewberry

Another project that was taken on this summer was re-instituting our Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina activity center on campus back to its original intended purpose... activities for children.

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 Mr Buddy working with youth during summer activities Love Made Visible, Part 1

By Kristen Dewberry

As I reminisce about summers in the past, I can remember smells, sounds, and feelings of freedom and fun. I can remember drinking water from the water hose and staying up late to catch fireflies at night. The warm summer breezes and smells of sweet honeysuckle are something that I hold dear to my heart and cherish because they remind me of special times.

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 Woman on crutches with ankle in a brace Break vs. Sprain

By Melissa Hopkins

I recently managed to break my foot and sprain my ankle. As the doctor explained, there is a firm timeline and expectation for the healing of a break. Sprains are a different story.

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 Amber and Herb A Children's Champion

By Kristen Dewberry

Everyone needs someone in their corner. I can remember in high school, it was Mrs. Toothman, my science teacher. She saw right through me and I couldn't get away with anything. But she also pushed me to be my best and challenged me to not only be a contender, but a champion. 

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 Three tubes of toothpaste with toothpaste squeezed out Toothpaste

By Dr. Mason Fuller Smith

I like to play a game with children in which I give them a tube of toothpaste and ask them to see how fast they can squeeze it empty into a plate. They always have a blast! Then, I ask them to put the toothpaste back into the tube.

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Pushing Forward

By Mike Garrell

Serving over 7,500 kids since 1954!! LOOK AT WHAT WE HAVE DONE! Whew! Time to take a break and rest on our laurels?

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 Residential Staff with thank you sign for Tieks Partnerships Produced in Pandemics

By Rev John Cobb

Lake Waccamaw, NC and Beverly Hills, CA are separated by a distance of 2,578 miles according to Google Maps.  Quite frankly, there is not a lot that connects our town with that most famous of all towns.  That is until recently.

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 Thomas Academy High School Orientation Re-entry

By Melissa Hopkins

After more than five months the students of Thomas Academy walked through the doors to begin receiving classroom instruction.

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 Keys to Freedom

By Melissa Hopkins

Learning to drive is one of the first steps to true freedom in the eyes of many teenagers.

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 You can still have motivation and goals no matter what your age. WOW Motivation

By Melissa Hopkins

Every week day morning during the summer, the youth participants in the Boys and Girls Homes World of Work (WOW) program gather outdoors at the pavilion for a few minutes to prepare for the day.

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 Woman balancing on a railroad track  Balancing Point

By Melissa Hopkins

It feels like many of us are walking a fine line to find balance. Every day there are new pieces of information that can knock you off balance.

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Carolyn's Kaleidoscope Child Advocacy Center

By Gary Faircloth

When you look into a kaleidoscope, you see the pieces of color shifting to form different shapes and patterns. When you work with a Child Advocacy Center (CAC), you are looking inside the experiences of a child who has suffered from abuse and neglect in much the same way.

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Building toward the future

By Gary Faircloth

Every July our Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina Board of Trustees gathers for our annual meeting. While this year's gathering was virtual, our Trustees still received reports from across the organization sharing the accomplishments and achievements we have experienced.

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 Mr. Lee supervising his housekeeping crew Learning on the Job

By Dr. Mason Fuller Smith

"Now see, you always want to do a good job and make sure you speak loud and clear and respectful. Ya hear?" - Mr. Lee, Assistant Housekeeper to his 'crew'

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 Sad teenage girl looking out a window with a hand pressed against the glass Do it for the Children!

By Mike Garrell

Despite what you may read, COVID-19 is harming children. The virus may not be deadly to the health and life of children and young people, but the impacts of long-term lockdowns and closures are harming them.

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 Pink flowers Nature's Healing - Beauty is a silent teacher

By Melissa Hopkins

Self care and stress relief tips are everywhere right now. One item that appears on list after list is to take a walk in nature if permitted.

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 disconnection image with people The Stress of the Disconnect

By Melissa Hopkins

I worked from home from mid-March until early June. Like so many workers, this was my first extended foray into remote working. I had enough knowledge from multiple trainings on the subject to know the importance of specific routines.

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  Normal is just a setting on the dryer

By Melissa Hopkins

I keep hearing that we will eventually enter a "new normal." No one know when or what that will look like.

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 A kickball game in a field The Joy of Laughter

By Ray Cockrell

We all know the smile that will cross your face and the joy you feel in your heart when you hear the laughter of a child.

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 Graduates tossing caps Bravo Eagles!

By Dr. Geraldine Bradshaw

The school counselor's heart in me causes me to have an eagle eye for transcripts. I begin to look at transcripts the moment a student enters Thomas Academy. The transcript speaks volumes as it allows me to see where a student's life may have taken a turn. Transcripts also provide a diagram of where we need to repair. A transcript is the pathway to HOPE.

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 Little girl hugging a woman Success Coach: The answer to reducing recidivism within foster care

By Ashlynn Campbell

Though May was National Foster Care Month, each and every day a social worker is asked, "When can I return back to my parents?"

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Appreciating Foster Parents

By Donna Yalch

May is Foster Parent Appreciation Month. Foster parents should be celebrated every day of every month. Foster parents are selfless individuals who open their home to children who have gone through at least one traumatic event. They open their hearts to love and help these children heal without knowing how long the child/children will be with them.

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"Quaranteen"

By Mason Fuller Smith

"Quaranteen." This is my new word for youth enduring this strange new world we occupy right now. Allow me to unpack its meaning.

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 Two sad teenage girls comforting each other Eager to Go, Eager to Stay

By Mike Garrell

Change is scary!!! Even when that change appears to be for the better, change is scary. For the children of Boys and Girls Homes change has been a constant part of their life.

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 Rev John Cobb in a super hero mask Wearing Masks for Protection

By Rev John Cobb

Just look around you; almost everyone is wearing a mask to protect themselves and others. Many special individuals are making masks to protect the most vulnerable people around us. We are learning that masks are quickly becoming a necessary part of life. We only take them off when we are certain that we are in a safe space.

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 Computer with reset message A Hard Reset

By Melissa Hopkins

In the computer world, sometimes the only solution is a hard reset, where all the data is removed from the device and makes it 100% clean.

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 Light the Lake walk on Flemington Drive Awareness needed for prevention

By Melissa Hopkins

In April 2019, more than 100 individuals gathered together at the corner of Flemington Drive and Sam Potts Highway, holding electronic candles. They walked as a group down Flemington Drive toward Lake Waccamaw, turning left on Lake Shore Drive. As they continued onto Cameron Street and turned back toward campus on Church Street, the positive energy radiated from these individuals.

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 A 2020 planner on an outdoor concrete table with a cup of tea and teapot What day is it?

By Melissa Hopkins

I was sitting outside enjoying my lunch in my yard when my youngest daughter asked, "Is it Wednesday or Thursday today?"

"It's Friday," I replied with a smile. She looked at me in shock.

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 Thomas Academy cheerleaders Growth... or not

By Melissa Hopkins

I recently worked with several of our youth as a cheerleading coach for Thomas Academy. When we were in cheer practice or at the basketball games, my intention was always to treat the cheerleaders fairly. They were all my squad.

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Respite Foster Care Explained

The original, expanded version of this article appeared on WRAL.com’s Spotlight page.

 

Not ready to foster full-time? Consider respite foster care to relieve the primary foster care parents of their duties for a short period of time - typically a single day, a weekend or one to two weeks.

 

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COVID-19 Desperate Times

By  President Gary Faircloth

I don't usually send you appeals like this. But these are desperate times and for the sake of the children I feel called to share this message with you today.

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 Teen laughing while lying on grass How much is a child's laughter worth?

By Dr. Mason Fuller Smith

Most people want to know what they are going to "get" for their money. No one wants to waste what they have worked so hard o earn. That is why we research, read reviews, and test drive. We want to make certain that we receive our money's worth; that we are investing in something worthwhile. When we are buying a car, a house, or a new boat this might be more straightforward. However, what are the metrics of "value" when it comes to investing in a child's life.

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 Small child in a car seat Giving Together

By Melissa Hopkins

Julie and Tom happily welcomed 2-year-old Rosie into their Fayetteville home late one Tuesday night. The first time foster parents had completed training and volunteered to host any child.

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 Roberto D. Rivera Promotion to Confidence

By Rev. John Cobb

Recently, I had the honor of being able to share with Kiwanians from throughout the Carolinas about the devastating impact of childhood trauma. To make it personal for them, I gave trauma a face and a name, Roberto D. Rivera.

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Girl in silhouette celebrating Promotion to Confidence

By Melissa Hopkins

Recently one of our youth wrote a letter to her staff to self-advocate for a promotion to Confidence, the third level of our social skills development program. It is shared  with her permission.

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 Basketball scoreboard Small Victories

By Melissa Hopkins

What is your definition of victory? For the fans of our Thomas Academy girls' basketball team this season the definition of victory changed significantly. The team composition varied from game to game with multiple games seeing only five players available to play. The team also included players who had never played organized basketball.

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 Silhouette of children holding hands How Can I Help?

By Ray Cockrell

We all experience the instinctive need to help. A good friend recently lost two close family members in a relatively short period. A friend and member of my Sunday School class recently received the news of cancer and is facing the challenges of radiation and chemo. These are very challenging times for them and the instinct is to reach out to help in some way - but how?

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 Teen holding a hope stone Finding the Light through Hope

By David Passmore

"I have to find some goodness in my life. I survive knowing that there is goodness and hope in people, it would be too hard to survive and thrive if there was not even a glimmer of something good in a situation."

These words were shared with me by one of the youth in our care who was victimized early in life.

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 Maya Angelou quote on sky background Thriving in Style

By Dr. Geraldine Bradshaw

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." - Maya Angelou

When watching almost any teen focused movie, there is a recurring theme that surviving high school is hard. Now, the challenges highlighted onscreen are rarely academic, and relate more to the relationships being navigated in the hallways between classes.

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Foster Care Answers


The original, expanded version of this article appeared on WRAL.com’s Spotlight page.

 

Over 11,000 NC children need foster care. Here are some frequently asked questions answered by foster care experts.

 

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 Teenage boy in hoodie seated with his head down Unbroken

By Dr. Mason  Fuller Smith

"No one can make you break!"

Those are pretty truthful words. They were shared with me by one of B&GH's transitional living residents. He offered them abruptly and with defiant spirit in the middle of a conversation about the pressures of life in light of all the difficulties that he'd been through.

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 Teenage girl on a couch with a notebook and laptop Foster care through the eyes of a teenager


The original, expanded version of this article appeared on WRAL.com’s Spotlight page.

 

Her Story –

Shania was taken into the foster care system at a young age and has had a "unique foster care experience" – one that has involved multiple states, agencies and placements.

 

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