Rick Wheat, President and CEO
Rick Wheat, President and CEO
“Why” we do what we do has propelled our organization through 127 years of history. What we do has changed with the changing needs of children and families.

What we do at any point in time is important. Today, we do a lot.

Our “what” has changed through the years. However, our “why” remains the same.

In 1886, Memorial Mercy Home-Hospital was founded in New Orleans when a group of concerned ladies began rescuing young girls from Charity Hospital. These girls were essentially victims of sex-trafficking. Mrs. M.M. Wolfe, a devoutly religious woman who often visited poor families who were patients in Charity Hospital, wrote these words about the first child and baby she rescued:

“I found her in the Hospital. By her side was lying a newly born babe. She was a child-mother fifteen years old. A sea Captain’s wife had brought her to this city in the capacity of a waitress. On arriving here this lady was suddenly called to South America, where she soon after went, leaving the young girl here without any protection, and in a wicked portion of the city.”

From that event, Memorial Mercy Home-Hospital was founded and became the seed for what is now Methodist Children’s Home of Greater New Orleans. What Mrs. Wolfe did for that young girl and her baby is very different from what we do in the New Orleans region today. Our “what” has changed, but our “why” has not!

In 1902, Louisiana Methodist Orphanage was created with this resolution: “Resolved … that we as a body establish an orphanage to be maintained and operated under our supervision.” (Rev. Dennis Fordham, my great great grandfather, was present during the session when the resolution was passed by the Annual Conference.) “What” Louisiana Methodists first did in north Louisiana was establish an orphanage.

What we do now in Louisiana is very different than what we did in 1886 and 1902. No longer do we care for orphans because that era ended. Today, we provide the most intensive residential treatment services in Louisiana for 128 children. We do this in three children’s homes located in the bootstrap, heel and toe – the three corners – of Louisiana’s boot-shaped state.

Today, we place therapists directly into families’ homes to keep families together. Today, we are developing an out-patient children’s treatment program at our Family Counseling Center in north Louisiana. Today, we provide Family Plus counselors in partnership with congregations across Louisiana. Today, Methodist Children’s Home of Southwest Louisiana in Sulphur cares for 24 boys who have no other place.

Today, we are planning phase two of our equine-assisted psychotherapy program at the OWL Center. Today, we are actively preparing for the next 100 years of ministry in southeast Louisiana by creating a permanent home for Methodist Children’s Home of Greater New Orleans. From there we will launch additional home and community-based ministries into Louisiana’s most populous region. (You can learn more about the next century of ministry at www.MCHSELA.com)

Clearly, what we do has changed with the passing of time, but our “why” does not change. In fact, “why” we do what we do is the solid foundation upon which “what” we do gets done.

So why does Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services exist? Why do we do what we do?

We are here because there are children who cannot live safely with their families, because there are neglected, abused, and traumatized adolescents who cannot care for themselves, because children who have been treated like objects of perversity need the love of God, and because families are shattered and parents are absent.

Why? Because the love of God compels us to care for children and families. When you understand why we exist, what we do becomes obvious: we care for children and families.

Pray for our children. Pray for their families. Pray for our staff.

Rick Wheat, President and Chief Executive Officer
Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services

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