address Delivering Components of Success
here do you think your life would be if your parents were drug addicts, or you were physically or sexually abused as a child? What would be your quality of life if you had to live in foster care or were abandoned? The odds would certainly be against you. Yet, through the local efforts of The Methodist Home for Children and Youth, children who have lived these horrors are entering our community as well-rounded adults with bright futures. Steve Rumford and Dr. Rick Lanford are at the helm of a unique business. They are in the business of saving lives, saving souls, and reaffirming the faith of children so they can live long and prosperous lives. Rumford, President and CEO, along with Lanford,Vice President for Development for The Methodist Home for Children and Youth, set the vision and morale compass for this growing organization. Rumford comments,â€œOur goal is to serve more children, more ways, more places, more effectively and to change the way Georgia treats its at-risk children.â€?
Prospering from Intervention
In honor of Steve Rumford’s twenty years of service, the new Intergenerational Activity Center was named the Rumford Center. Rumford often takes time away from his administative duties to spend quality time with the children.
In addition to the youth development programs of the Home, Rumford and Lanford agree, “The Home provides an incredible wealth of information and resources that benefit the entire community. We host training events for both local and state agencies. We give back to the community through our volunteer hours every year. We employ over 200 people from the Macon area which directly effects Macon’s economic growth.” “We serve on many non-profit boards and agencies that lend assistance to a broad base of community support, and our facilities are open to community youth functions and celebrations,” Lanford states. Currently in Macon, there are sixtyeight residents living on campus, fourteen children in the HOPE Program (Therapeutic Foster Care) and four young adults in the higher education Independent Living Program.The staff, a board of directors, and numerous volunteers are responsible for the health and well-being of these children.The 2003 annual report shows The Methodist Home and its multiple campuses in Macon, Americus, Columbus, St. Mary’s, and Valdosta served 612 children and youth.To date, over 7,000 children are recorded as residents of the Home since 1872. Beyond residential care, the Home offers sixteen other programs and services designed at rehabilitating children and families. It also provides educational opportunities and intervention training. In fact, the Home’s Safe Kids/Safe Staff program serves as the national demonstration site for improving methods and training programs, to reduce physical restraints with youth in resident treatment.
Derricka Fortson on location at GEICO. Although the Home reports impressive figures of service, statistics fail to do justice to the personal impact on those it serves. Rumford hopes, “When they [the residents] are adults with their own families, they can look back at the Home and know they were loved and they learned of God’s love for them.” Lanford, affectionately known as “Daddy Rick”, is a community icon for the Home. Because of generous community donations, he is able to provide a teddy bear and hand-made quilt to each of the new residents. A simple gesture to show the children they are loved. A show of emotion for which many are unaccustomed. Daddy Rick is much more than your typical non-profit development officer. He offers a commanding presence both behind the pulpit, as an ordained minister, and across our nation as a children’s advocate. First and foremost, Daddy Rick does God’s work. His professional goal he reports, “…is to provide the needed financial resources to secure the well-being for the children, youth, and families we serve here at The Methodist Home.”
For Rumford and Lanford, you cannot separate the men from their work. Their work and their personal lives are uniquely intertwined.“She became a member of my family as she was graduating from High School,” Lanford commented concerning a resident.“Both of her parents are deceased. I thought that my family would be a blessing to her. I was wrong, she became the blessing for all of us.” These blessing are shared throughout the staff. Ultimately, the true test of any business is the quality of the product it produces.While many might shudder at the reference to children as a “product”, the purpose is not to be insensitive but rather to demonstrate a point. The Home’s product, as a final output, is hopefully an educated, young adult able to operate as a self-sufficient member of our community. Derricka Fortson and Linton Holleman are two such products of The Methodist Home. Now twenty-four, and thirty-four years of age respectively, these two former Home residents offer a glimpse of successful “Home” life.
“It is simply amazing how God can take a difficult situation and turn it into His glory when we surrender to His loving kindness. Derricka, in many ways, reflects the hope and mission of The Methodist Home. She lives the dream that God wants for all His children,” says Lanford. At fourteen, Derricka needed a second chance at life. She was aware her best opportunity for a successful life required separating herself from her family.“I knew that I need to get out of that environment,” she commented. “My father died when I was eleven. I never really knew him. He and my mother separated when I was three. I understand he would not have been much of a role model. Ultimately, my mother fell victim to a drug addiction. She died a few years ago.” With a series of step-fathers and siblings from her mother’s multiple marriages, Derricka as the oldest, assumed many adult responsibilities. She remembered, “My mother would often be gone for days at a time. Eventually a neighbor reported her to the Department of Family and Children’s Service. I was placed into foster care.”
Linton Holleman volunteering his time at Ingleside Baptist.
As a teen, most would rebel against the thought of leaving the only family they knew to go live in an “institution”. Derricka embraced the opportunity,“During my first interview at the Home, I knew it was the place for me to be. No one fed me better, treated me better or held me more.” Today, Derricka has her own apartment and a successful career with GEICO. “My job as a claims adjuster requires handling automobile claims that involve firstparty injuries, theft and fire. I just got a promotion at work, and I will now be handling bodily injury settlements for 3rd party injuries. I will be going to GEICO’s home office in Washington DC for training.” A Mercer University graduate with degrees in Spanish and International Affairs, Derricka has traveled the world working as a missionary with The Methodist Home and as a foreign exchange student. Her passport is stamped with vouchers from Spain, Germany, France, Portugal, Cuba, Panama, Mexico, Costa Rica and so on. Derricka appreciates the lessons learned from her relationship with the Home. She says,“Life gets in the way sometimes and you just have to keep pushing. I’ve learned you cannot compromise yourself. Faith, prayer, and the belief in something greater than your self helps along the way.” The Home also taught her life skills: time management, goal setting, personal responsibilities and acceptance.“One of the most unique examples of volunteerism from the community was a banker who came in and taught us how to balance a checkbook.You can see from his example, everyone has something to offer.” Linton Holleman and his wife, Janelle, are raising two children of their own, Alexander and Clarissa, in the community where he credits his life was saved. Linton says,“The Methodist Home saved my life in two ways. It brought me out of an unhealthy family situation, and it introduced me to God.”
Linton’s parents divorced when he was three years old, he recounts,“After my mother’s third divorce, it was agreed that I would go to military school back up in Georgia near my father. Military school was short lived.” Linton agrees that the structure of the military school was too much for him as a rebellious teen. Linton, along with his father, agreed that he should consider The Methodist Home as a home life option after military school. “The Methodist Home absolutely saved my life. I can’t say where I would be without the Home, but let’s just say my
potential for life would be very limited,” he remarks with an unsettled tone. After high school, Linton joined the Navy and pursued his higher educational training. By all appearances, Linton is a successful working professional, devoted father and husband. He credits much of his success with his early introduction to Janelle. Sweethearts since high school, she shares the challenges of his life both good and bad. Professionally, Linton is a respiratory therapist with Rutland Medical Supply. “I think I was called by God to into respiratory therapy and home health care,” he comaddress
ments. “I am able to help serve people with my work and through personal ministry.” In true small business fashion, he also doubles as a marketing specialist helping promote the company. In addition, his goals for personal achievement have motivated him to take on additional responsibilities as a contract sales representative with a local advertising specialties company, U.S.Ad Products. Linton lives with his memories of the Home. He recalls,“Jeff Lawrence was like a father to me. And the program impacted me as a leader as I took responsibilities with our church youth activities.”Today, he still communicates with Rumford and Lanford. “Mr. Rumford is really good for advice. I still call him on occasion, even for some business input.” Today, Linton’s greatest pride comes from his children and his work with the youth at his church, Ingleside Baptist.“The Methodist Home taught me about changing into being someone better. It also taught me to trust again.” The youth of Ingleside are now the benefactors of his change. Almost as a boastful father, Rumford reports,“Derricka and Linton have shown a strong value in education. Both have an excellent sense of who they are and have a strong faith. I am extremely proud of them. They are great Americans. Linton is a Navy veteran and Derricka represents us with her missionary and charitable work.” “As with life, so it is with business.You must be in a state of continual improvement,” explains Linton.“I apply what I have learned everyday to my personal and professional life.” Overcoming obstacles is considered one of the greatest signs of a leader and a successful professional. Derricka and Linton are beating the odds and their thanks go out to The Methodist Home for Children and Youth. I want to personally thank these two brave, young professionals for recanting their less than fortunate childhoods with us. Hopefully, their story will inspire you to make a difference in the life of a child. David Canady photography by Ken Krakow
Get Involved We’ve asked the question for you. What can the Central Georgia community do to help The Methodist Home for Children & Youth? In true fashion, no one can say it better than Daddy Rick, “First, the community as a whole can lift up our children and the staff who work with them in prayer every day. Second, the community can volunteer their time to help serve either as a volunteer resource for one of our children, help out with our monthly yard sales, participate in one of our campus improvement projects, the list is endless. Third, the community can give financial gifts that will allow us to continue to serve these precious children who have been entrusted to our care.” On April 16, The Methodist Home Auxiliary will host Celebration Day from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The charitable event benefiting The Methodist Children’s Home will feature a bake sale, live & silent auction, children’s carnival, arts and crafts, entertainment, and food. The whole community will be welcomed, and it is a great, fun, family activity. For information contact The Methodist Home at 478.751.2800. Daddy Rick shares a teddy bear with all the Home’s children as a gesture of love and support.