x

Hear from Our Current Team

Brandon Brown

 

Brandon Brown, case manager and counselor, pictured with his wife and 5 children

What did you do before arriving at Homes of Hope for Children?

“I was an officer in the Army for 10 years. Toward the end of my time in the military, I began to pursue a Masters of Social Work degree with the intention of working with soldiers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress. However, both midway through the program at the University of Southern Mississippi and shortly after graduation, I was afforded the opportunity to work with children in a school-based setting, and I greatly enjoyed both of these experiences.”

What attracted you to working at Homes of Hope for Children?

I love the vision behind Homes of Hope for Children – to provide opportunities and stability for children in crisis. I have found that the strategy at Homes of Hope for Children is approached first and foremost by committing this work to prayer.  Homes of Hope for Children is passionate about sharing and demonstrating the good news of eternal hope through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ not only to the residents here, but also to each other and those outside of the ministry.”

 

What is the most fulfilling part of being a case manager and counselor at Homes of Hope for Children?

“It has been an enriching experience.  Hearing the work that God is doing in and through the lives of the residents here and being able to join in the mission here is a sincere privilege.  I have been able to see and hear about how God has used the gifts and talents of current and past staff members to minister to the hearts of these children.  I am so thankful for the opportunities God has given me to see Him work in their lives, and I am excited to see them continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and to become the men and women of God He is preparing them to be.”

How would you advise or encourage someone who is thinking about joining our ministry team?

“First, I would encourage them to pray about the opportunity.  If they do not have experience working at a children’s home, I would also encourage them to dialogue with individuals who have and ask them to share their experiences.  After that, I would recommend careful reflection on the gifts and passions God has given them and consideration of how those attributes might fit into being part of a children’s home team.

 

Cory and Cheryl Castaneda

 

Cory and Cheryl Castaneda, boys’ houseparents in Fenton Cottage

What did you do before arriving at Homes of Hope for Children?

Cory worked for Fed Ex for 25 years as a courier and a manager. Cheryl worked as a teacher in the inner city of Milwaukee, WI for 15 years.

What attracted you to working at Homes of Hope for Children?

“The first thing that attracted us to Homes of Hope for Children was that it is a Christian organization focused on the Centrality of the Gospel, which was immediately evident to us when our phone interview began with a prayer. We love their focus on keeping sibling sets together, the small community on campus, and the vision of this ministry. Not to mention: a big bonus for us, coming from Wisconsin, is that it never snows in Mississippi.”

What is the most fulfilling part of being houseparents?

“The most fulfilling part of being houseparents is when we see the evidence of God working in the boys’ hearts. We love to see when the kids learn to apply scripture to their lives and that they can just be kids.”

How would you advise or encourage someone who is thinking about working here as a houseparent?

“You cannot look at being a houseparent as just a job; it has to be a calling. Despite the challenges, it is the best life decision that we have ever made.

 

Jeff and Kelly DeVries

 

Jeff and Kelly DeVries, girls’ houseparents in Hope Haven Cottage

What did you do before arriving at Homes of Hope for Children?

Jeff worked for a home maintenance company and Kelly worked in children’s ministry at their church in Louisville, Kentucky.

What attracted you to working at Homes of Hope for Children?

“We loved the philosophy behind it. Leadership focuses on what is best for the children, it is not supported by state funding, and Jesus is in the forefront of all decisions and life.”

What is the most fulfilling part of being houseparents?

“To know that we are a small part of the story God is writing in the lives of these children can be overwhelming in its magnitude and breathtaking in its possibilities. Getting to live life with these kids is a great gift.

 How would you advise or encourage someone who is thinking about working here as a houseparent?

“We would advise a couple to honestly reflect on their marriage. We were rightly told that this job would magnify the strengths and weaknesses in our marriage and it has challenged both. God is the forefront of our marriage and our home. Be sure he is one of yours as well.

 

Steve and Samara Loschiavo

 

Steve and Samara Loschiavo, relief houseparents in Dearman and Hope Haven Cottages

What did you do before arriving at Homes of Hope for Children?

Steve was a reservist in the US Army and worked as a civilian optician in the clinic at Luke Air Force Base. Samara was a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to their daughter Isabella and to two other girls from their church; she also had a part-time business as a Disney travel agent.

What attracted you to working at Homes of Hope for Children?

“We were very impressed when we saw [the executive director] Dr. Garrett’s video on this website, which immediately attracted us to his vision. Then, when we first talked to Melissa [the director] on the phone, the first question she asked was if she could pray with us. Those are just a couple of the many qualities that attracted us to working here.”

What is the most fulfilling part of being houseparents?

“Being involved with the children on a daily basis and being part of a great ministry that is committed to giving children the tools to be prepared for life by providing a stable, Christ-centered home environment.”

 

How would you advise or encourage someone who is thinking about working here as a houseparent?

“First, be diligent in prayer and be open to God’s calling – being a houseparent must be the call of the Lord. Second, remember that being flexible and being able to laugh are essential to this work.”

 

Billy and Tisha Weller

 

Billy and Tisha Weller, boys’ houseparents in Dearman Cottage

What did you do before arriving at Homes of Hope for Children?

“In 2009, the Lord called us into the Children’s Home ministry. We ministered in two Alabama children’s homes before being blessed to begin serving at Homes of Hope for Children.”

Before working at their first children’s home, Billy worked at a Satellite Service business and Tisha worked in HeadStart.

What attracted you to working here?

“We were initially drawn to this ministry because of Dr. Garrett’s testimony and vision. After visiting the homes and talking with staff, we felt the presence of the Holy Spirit on campus. We were excited to see the staff’s commitment to Christ and their commitment to teaching these children about Christ.”

What is the most fulfilling part of being houseparents?

Billy: “It’s such a blessing to watch the children grow spiritually. I enjoy leading daily devotions with them and watching the Word become real in their lives. I am thankful that God allows us to be a part of His plan to teach these children about Him.”

Tisha: “It is a sweet experience to form bonds and relationships with these children. It’s heartwarming for me to watch these children change, grow, and mature as they put the things we have taught them into action. It is powerful to watch God’s plan for these children to learn about Him unfold in front of my eyes.”

How would you advise or encourage someone who is thinking about working here as a houseparent?

“First of all, our advice would be to pray and seek God’s will. This is not a job. It’s a ministry and it’s a family. We are very fortunate that Homes of Hope for Children has a unity within the staff on campus. We love having other Christian staff that encourages each other so we can grow closer to God together. We are blessed to have administration that has a personal relationship with the Lord, looks to Him for direction and guidance, and gives Him all the honor and glory.”