Success Stories:

Katy Kustos, Becoming Her Best

Katy Kustos

Katy Kustos

People do not usually realize the need for an organization like Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children (OBHC). As one who has been completely changed by this organization, I can testify that there is an enormous need for programs like this one and a need for public understanding of their benefits.

Moving to the Baptist Home for Girls in Madill, Oklahoma gave me tremendous opportunities. I lived in a stable environment where there were three meals every day, household chores to teach me responsibility, and houseparents that consistently showed me they loved me. I attended school and I was involved in school activities that contributed to who I am today. I lived in a safe environment without fear of verbal, physical, or emotional abuse.

To me, OBHC is more than just a residential education program. It has been my home for the past six years. Because of the care and after-care that OBHC provides, I have been able to finish high school and go to college.

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Larry Kelley, Creating a Legacy of Caring

Larry Kelley

Larry Kelley and Family

I was placed in care at Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home in 1978 at the age of eleven. Hundreds of children have entered the doors of Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home with a life story like mine. We are children who know what it is like to be hungry, abused, unloved, unwanted. We know anger, hate, and betrayal. We have seen alcohol and drugs destroy families.

Some of us arrive at safety so late in our childhood we feel that neglect and abuse cannot be overcome. Sometimes the damage cannot be repaired, at least not immediately. I did not go on to college and become a doctor or the CEO of a big corporation. Some things were just too far out of my educational reach. You might think my path was unchanged by my years in residential education, but there is more to the story.

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Pat Kelly, Giving Back

Pat Kelly

Pat Kelly

I was named after my uncle Patrick. Many boys are named after their father, but my father deserted my family when my mother was pregnant with me. So it was my uncle who rushed my mother to the hospital as she went into labor, and I bear his name.

My mother struggled as a single mom raising three children – me and my two older siblings. We stayed with family members for several years, but eventually it became too tough. In 1952, my brother was placed at the Virginia Home for Boys in Richmond. He was eight years old, the minimum age for enrollment. Although I was only five years old at the time, under the minimum age requirement, the Home made an exception for me so that I could live with my brother.

I spent the next thirteen and a half years at what became my home.

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Kelly Mills, Discovering Hope

Kelly Mills

I was fifteen years old, staying in an emergency shelter, when I discovered that some of my belongings had been stolen by others at the shelter. At the time, this was the least of my worries, as I found myself constantly surrounded by violence and drug use at the shelter. The police came to break up fights and staff conducted “shakedowns” of the building in search of drugs. I was at the shelter for 95 days, well over the 30-day limit, as I awaited a more permanent placement.

I ended up in the hospital for severe depression. I was considering suicide at the time. I had been living with my mother and younger brother in a trailer, and I suffered years of abuse at the hands of a few different people in my life. I had tried everything I knew to escape – I tried to run away, starve myself for attention, and even got caught with a carpet knife at school. I wanted a way out of the chaos. I did not know at the time that help was waiting for me.

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Dr. Herbert M. Turner, III, Achieving Dreams

Dr. Herbert M. Turner, III

My life journey really began when my father decided to leave our home in West Philadelphia in 1970. His leaving had an indelible impact on my psyche, and left an emotional void that took me more than a decade to fill. It left my mother in dire straits financially. Moreover, at that time, the streets of West Philadelphia were controlled by gangs which made it a very perilous place to grow up as a young boy.

Still, I remember that day—as if it were yesterday—in 1971 when, as a fourth grader, I was playing outside (a group of thugs had stopped me a few weeks before and gave me the option of either giving them my watch or taking a beating) and my mother asked me, “Would you like to go to Scotland School?” I said “yes.” I also remember the day when, at the half way point of the 180 mile drive to Scotland School for Veterans’ Children (SSVC), the car we were riding in broke down. As the tow truck came, I asked my mother, “Are we still going to SSVC?”

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Steve Barnes, Becoming a Better Man

Steve Barnes

I grew up in a close-knit single parent household that was full of love. We were quite happy until I reached my teen years, at which time I became rebellious in an effort to “find” myself – a process that was intensified due to the lack of a strong, positive male role model. I knew that my dad, who lived in another city, loved me. I don’t blame him for the mistakes I made. But I missed the guidance that a son can only get from his father. As a teen, I got involved in drugs and alcohol and began skipping school and running away from home.

When I was 15, I went to live with my father because my mother was no longer able to control me. My substance abuse continued and eventually I ran into trouble with the law. I found myself in a stark, hopeless cellblock of a juvenile detention center, awaiting trial. It was here that I found God and began trying to turn my life around. As a first-time offender, I was sentenced to six weeks in a drug rehabilitation center. Although I was committed to change, my family didn’t feel they could trust me and were unwilling to let me move back home after my release. I was 16 years old.

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Michael Jones, Poverty to Campaign Trail

Michael Jones

If you had met me when I was ten years old, you would not have thought me different from any other boy. I grew up with my twin sister in an average, middle-class home. My father worked at the local post office and my mother worked in real estate. It is incredible the difference one year can make; by the time I was eleven, my world had begun to unravel.

My father had long been struggling with a mental illness, and it finally caught up with him that year. He had to quit his job. At the same time, a regional housing slump caused my mother to lose her job. The bills piled up, and my family had no source of income. We lost everything – the bank foreclosed on our home, our car was repossessed, and our family was torn apart by a failing marriage. Tumult seized my normal life. I learned not to expect the next meal, and lived on the move with my mother and sister.

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Bryan Young, A Life Transformed

Bryan Young

My name is Bryan Young and I am an 18 year old recent graduate of high school. The Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch has been my home for the past three years.

I would like to share with you a story about a young man who had no direction and no cares for his future. This young man was an expert on drugs and alcohol and had a personal relationship with law enforcement. He had family problems, major school issues, a bad attitude, and a self-destructive mindset.

Until one day, he came to the crossroads of his life. A major decision had to be made; a decision that would either make or break him. He chose the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch. Not only did he go to the Boys Ranch, but he arrived with all of his problems, including a total disrespect to adults. He believed that he was invincible. It didn’t take long for his reputation to get around, and he had become well-known around the Ranch for his disrespect, dishonesty, and non-compliance with Ranch rules. All of this went on for quite some time until one day in his Unit Director’s office, the light came on and he realized that his life was going nowhere!

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Kamico Cornelius, Class of ’07 Inspiration

Kamico Cornelius

For “Big Mama,” as she is known at Methodist Children’s Home in Texas, “life was not always the fairy tale everyone wants it to be,” says Kamico Cornelius, 17. Now, she is on her way to becoming a successful young lady as she graduates Valedictorian from ‘the Home’ and enters college. In fact, she is not waiting until the fall; she has already begun taking summer classes towards her degree.

Originally from Fort Worth, TX, Kamico was adopted at the age of seven. During her adolescent years, Kamico started misbehaving. Though she did not have any trouble with the law, there were several runaway incidents. Knowing she was not heading down a good path, Kamico asked her adoptive mother to find help. At 14 years old, Kamico entered the foster care system. She was in eleven different placements, at times enduring physical and emotional abuse, before Methodist Children’s Home became her twelfth placement.

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Omar Woodard, Residential Education Advocate

Omar Woodard

Omar is a national figure in the making. Currently a Presidential Administrative Fellow and a public administration graduate student at The George Washington University in Washington, DC, he also served as GW Student Body President during his undergraduate years. He plans to run for political office one day, probably in his home state of Pennsylvania.

Leadership comes easily to Omar. Much of that, he says, comes from his training at Girard College. Serving over 700 low income students from mostly inner city Philadelphia, Girard is one of the country’s premier, and the second largest, residential education program.

Omar grew up with a single mom in a tough neighborhood. Afraid of the harm their environment could have on her son, his mom sent him to Girard – a school still located in Philadelphia, but a new chance to step out of his comfort zone and expand his horizons. The rigorous academic program at Girard was exciting and challenging. Omar lived with houseparents in dorms on campus. He still keeps in touch with one of particular influence, Ms. Simmons.

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