The month of May brings heightened excitement for students of all ages. As the school year draws to a close, summer plans begin to take shape and the palpable anticipation makes it difficult to maintain focus on the tasks at hand.
For the graduating seniors of Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children (OBHC), this sense of expectancy is multiplied as they not only look forward to the break from their studies but also consider the myriad of possibilities that lay ahead of them in the days to come.
While decisions about the future can stir up a significant amount of angst and uncertainty, the children in the care of OBHC are not left to navigate this winding, unfamiliar path alone. Wise and caring staff walk patiently alongside each student as they evaluate the options before them and seek to establish their next steps.
Tamara Doyen, Campus Life Director at Baptist Children’s Home, Owasso, reflects on how these conversations occur, saying, “Our conversations with our students begin with what they enjoy doing or what they are passionate about. I believe this is the best place to start because it gets them thinking about what they may want to do full time.”
As the students begin to discover where their interests lie, they are guided toward resources and tools available to them as they ponder what it will take to turn their dreams into reality. Regardless of the form their continuing development may take, the students are encouraged and supported in whatever they choose to pursue.
Doyen shares, “We have taken students on college campus tours as well as tech school informational sessions. We work with them on applying for financial aid and scholarships. Not all students are ready for college or have any desire to attend, so we help them apply for jobs and conduct mock interviews, so they are prepared.”
In addition to pursuing vocational ambitions, the students are taught many necessary life skills in this season to prepare and equip them as they embark on their journey toward independence. A few areas of training include the responsibilities of household chores, vehicle maintenance and money management. Learning to relate to those around them and interacting with many different types of people is another valuable skill residents can cultivate during their days on campus.
Many of the children who come to live at OBHC lack the spiritual and emotional support that is so vital in the lives of young people. Especially in seasons of growth and transition, the impact of a timely word of encouragement or show of support can make all the difference in a child’s feelings of confidence and capability.
Regardless of the direction a young person’s life takes after high school, they need to know they have someone in their corner to cheer them on when they need it the most. While some choose to accept the gift of community more readily than others, OBHC desires to be a channel through which this type of love and support is offered.
Melissa Litke, former houseparent and current Intake Coordinator and Campus Associate at Baptist Children’s Home, Oklahoma City, recalls how OBHC has helped to meet specific relational needs in the lives of students preparing to graduate and move into a new phase of life.
“Our church communities often joined us in celebrating our graduating seniors by hosting graduation parties and senior Sundays. OBHC was always wonderful about having college students come back to the cottage for weekends and holidays. I was glad they allowed us to continue to be their safe place during college.”
Everyone’s path to success and achievement is as unique as their genetic make-up. The one commonality that runs through the veins of every person is that each one is hand-crafted by God to reflect His image and fulfill His purposes for their life. The ministry of OBHC seeks to remind each student of their worth in Christ and empower them to follow Him into the future He has in store for them.
Lieschen Saale, former houseparent and current Child Resource Coordinator at Baptist Children’s Home, Oklahoma City, summed it up well when she said, “Success is living the life God designed you to live… getting your diploma and working a job when no one in your family ever has is success!!”