Buildings are tools. Buildings offer our staff places to conduct treatment programs and provide services for children and families. In addition to providing a service location, a facility can also serve as a launching pad for new services in surrounding communities.

Methodist Children's Home of Southwest Louisiana
Methodist Children’s Home of Southwest Louisiana

Buildings allow our staff to accomplish our mission. In fact, well-designed buildings accelerate the growth and expansion of our ministry to children and families. Our own history in Ruston serves as an example of what we expect will happen from Methodist Children’s Home of Southwest Louisiana and from Methodist Children’s Home of Greater New Orleans in southeast Louisiana.

Here’s why.

Louisiana Methodist Orphanage was first opened in Bunkie, Louisiana, in 1902, with excitement. The dream of many who cared about the plight of children had come true.

However, it quickly became evident our first little white house in Bunkie was its own barrier to future growth. Had we remained in that small house, I doubt we would still exist. That house and its location did not offer space for expanded residential services nor did it offer space to serve as a launching pad for services in the region.

It was not until a few years later when we moved to our 40-acre campus in Ruston that the real potential for significant and sustained growth of our ministry became kinetic. The first building was eventually called, “Old Main”. Of course Old Main is gone and the original 400-acre campus now has 21 buildings.

That we had space after moving to Ruston allowed us to grow with time from that first building. We passed through the historical eras of orphanage with farm, to children’s home, to treatment facility and, now, to participate in Louisiana’s “coordinated system of care” providing the most intensive level of residential care as a psychiatric residential treatment facility to Louisiana’s most desperate children. (One thing obvious from a look into our past is that change must happen!)

Future expansion of home and community-based ministries from three residential centers.
Future expansion of home and community-based ministries from three residential centers.
From Ruston in north central Louisiana, we have spread our ministry out to Shreveport, all the way to the Mississippi river, and down through Alexandria and Leesville with the OWL Center, Family Plus, MultiSystemic Therapy, and Life Skills programs. Our Ruston campus serves as the base for our home and community-based ministries throughout north and central Louisiana.

We are preparing now to continue our ministry to children and families by creating opportunities for this same expansion from our two southern campuses. Using the previous century in north Louisiana as a model for the next 100 years, I expect continued growth of both intensive residential AND home and community-based ministries in Louisiana. With our three residential locations in Ruston, Sulphur and Mandeville, we have the bootstrap, heel and toe of Louisiana’s boot-shaped state covered.

I share this bit of perspective because I am excited about the opportunities I believe will unfold for us during the next 10, 50, and 100 years in Sulphur at Methodist Children’s Home of Southwest Louisiana and at the future site of Methodist Children’s Home of Greater New Orleans. I expect we will reach into surrounding communities from these two southern campuses, just as we have seen happen from Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home in Ruston during the previous century.

The parallels are already obvious. Just as 100 years ago, “Old Main” was the only building on our 40-acre Ruston campus, today, we have our first building on our 40-acre Sulphur campus. Even though we are still early in our ministry to children and families in the southwest region of the state, we have already stepped off our grounds and into the community with a MultiSystemic Therapy program in Lake Charles.

Recently I visited with a lively group in New Orleans who actively supported the Methodist Home for Children of New Orleans when we were located on Washington Street. They are keenly aware of the real needs of children and families in New Orleans and they are very interested in us re-establishing a ministry presence in the city of New Orleans.

Just as we have done from our other children’s home campuses, once we have established a permanent home for Methodist Children’s Home of Greater New Orleans in St. Tammany Parish, I anticipate we will quickly begin stepping back into New Orleans with new home and community-based services for children and families. Having a permanent home in the region will provide a launching pad for home and community-based ministries throughout the southeast region of Louisiana.

With campuses in Lincoln, Calcasieu and St. Tammany Parishes we have the “bootstrap, heel and toe” of Louisiana’s boot-shaped stated covered. The growth of home and community-based ministries from these locations will meet somewhere in the middle.