Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children



Baptist Girls Home Fundraiser Celebrates 100 Years of Caring

by Leah J. Simmons, Lifestyles Editor

Printed first in the Sunday Ardmoriete - October 12, 2003

Twenty-six girls from the Oklahoma Baptist Home for Girls in Madill got up close and personal with a group of volunteers and supporters at the fourth annual style show and brunch at the Admore First Baptist Church fellowship hall.

This the girls home's main fund-raiser of the year, where money collected helps buy a year's worth of school clothes, which the girls modeled for their guests. But, according to director Gayle Buck, it serves a much greater purpose.

"Most of these girls don't ever have a time when grandmas and grandpas and uncles and aunts make a big to-do over them and, a lot of times this is their only chance to have that." she said. "And they make so many friends through our volunteers and the people that get involved with us during that time."

This is the 100th anniversary of the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children. The Madill home has been in existence since 1976, when former Governor and Mrs. Gary gave land and money to the Department of Child Care. It is now one of four campuses statewide, including the Boys Ranch Town in Edmond and the co-ed homes in Moore and Owasso.

Buck said the Madill facility has four cottages that house eight girls and houseparents, plus an independent-living cottage where girls who have started earning their own money can live and learn to pay bills and make their own decisions. The home is open to girls from birth through college.

"We have a lot of endowments that have been made for their college education and they can either go to a college or they can go to a trade school, and we'll pay for either one," Buck said.

Girls who come to the home are referred by families, school officials, church pastors, Sunday school teachers or friends who find out about a breakdown in a family and are aware of the facility.

"They have to want to come," Buck said. "They sign an agreement, because if they don't want to come, it's not going to be a positive thing. And sometimes it's the first time they've got to make a decision in their life.

"We keep it as close to a regular home setting as we can," she said. "There are house parents who live there 24 hours a day and they feel called to that. It's not a job. If it was a job, they couldn't do it."

Girls are open to every opportunity available to them. Many participate in 4-H, FFA, Future Homemakers of America, band and sports. "We have vans running back and forth into town constantly," Buck said. "Our girls on our campus raise all of the pork for all four campuses. They show pigs and they show sheep and they show beef. They win a lot of ribbons. We just try to give them every opportunity in the time that they're there to develop them into capable, caring, Christian adults."

One senior resident gave a personal account of her life before and since she has been at the girls home. She told of a life without guidance, one of traveling the wrong road with the wrong crowd and losing any sense of caring about her life. Then she heard about the Baptist Home for Girls. "She came to a point where she knew she didn't want her whole life to be that way and she heard about the children's home." Buck said. "She's a senior this year. She just really has developed into a wonderful little girl."

Buck said many of the girls come to the home with nothing but the clothes on their backs. This annual fund-raiser helps pay for their clothing, freeing up funds to pay for other necessities like dental and physical checkups, glasses and help for emotional problems.

"We will be able to meet their needs better through this. Not only that, it gives the people in the area a chance to feel like they're really having a hands-on type of relationship with the girls when they get to see them and meet them," she said. "We had volunteers from all over the area go shopping with them. J.C. Penney opens their doors early at about 8 o'clock one Saturday and their girls get to shop without anybody in there but them."

At the brunch, the girls modeled school clothes and church clothes, and the three senior girls modeled a dressy outfit that they will wear during their senior year for special occasions.

"We don't have a final count on the money we raised, but we already had about $20,000 that people had already given for event sponsors and table sponsors and their clothes," Buck said. "People have just poured their heart out."

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