A Unique Role
By Catherine Finch
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2 (ESV)
Jessica Nichols has a unique role at Baptist Children’s Home (BCH), Owasso. She serves as a family advisor on the campus. Jessica’s role on campus is even more unique because she is serving women and their children in the same way her family advisor served her.
Children’s Hope offers cottage style, multi-family living in a Christian setting for up to four families per cottage. Each family, consisting of a mother and her children, has a private bedroom and bathroom but shares a common living area, dining area, kitchen, playroom and utility room. Children’s Hope is focused on the unity of mothers and their children who have found themselves in a crisis situation. Each cottage is served by a female family advisor who lives on campus in an attached apartment.
“My job is to help the moms on campus,” said Jessica. “I come alongside the moms and guide them and encourage them as they learn parenting skills, budgeting strategies, life skills and how to be confident in themselves. I am their support.”
Because Jessica was once a mom in Children’s Hope, she understands what the moms in the cottage are going through in a way others cannot. Jessica and her two children moved to BCH four years ago this December. Up until a year ago, they had only viewed Children’s Hope through the lens of someone in the program.
“Graduating from Children’s Hope and becoming a family advisor was a lot different than I expected it to be,” said Jessica. “When I was in Children’s Hope, I didn’t always understand why we had to budget like we did or why there were certain rules in place. Now I understand fully and can relate to the moms when they have questions or struggle with the structure we have in place. I can encourage them with my experience.”
Once Jessica graduated from Children’s Hope, she became an intern family advisor and then joined the campus full-time. She said her kids love the cottage-style living and were excited to move back in after they lived in the on-campus apartments. Jessica appreciates the Christ-centered environment her kids are exposed to on a daily basis and is thankful they can share in the experience as a family.
During the week, Jessica starts each day by taking the moms and their children to daycare, work and school and then and then ends the day by picking them all up. Jessica takes the moms to appointments, helps with grocery shopping and teaches them the same budgeting skills she learned. She also takes the moms out for fun, group outings like swimming or the movies or an ice cream run.
One of Jessica’s favorite parts about being a family advisor is watching the moms grow in their confidence. She loves the change she has seen in the moms from the moment they stepped on campus a year ago to now. Two of the moms in the cottage are celebrating graduations this year, and Jessica could not be more proud!
“Watching them start school and then finish school is so rewarding,” said Jessica. “They’re getting debts and bills paid off and building up their savings and growing at church. It’s just so amazing to witness the change that’s happened in the one year I’ve been with them.”
There are definitely hard days as a family advisor. Jessica noted the moms do not always take her advice and will sometimes push back against the structure in place. It can be hard to see a mom she cares about make decisions that are not beneficial to her growth. However, Jessica knows BCH, Owasso is exactly where she is meant to be.
“I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” said Jessica. “My prayer is that God calls more women to be family advisors on our campuses, because they truly don’t know what they’re missing in this unique role.”