Mommy And Daddy Brown

In a field where the tour of duty for a House Parent couple is on average only a year and half, you have to take notice when you run across an old timer or two that have been ministering to children in need for longer than some of us have been legally able to vote.You may have that couple at your facility, here they go by Jim and Becky Brown. From what I know about them they have been at our facility for ten years, or forever, I forget which. Needless to say they have seen and experienced a lot of change in those years. They held on through changes in staff, programs and kids. By example they prove that a facility is what you make it.

Jim and Becky are Family Teachers in the toddler cottage on campus. Countless kids have gone through there in the years they have been doing their ministry. Fortunately some of the earliest memories these kids have are of “Daddy and Mommy Brown”.

I had the honor of filling in last summer for a week in their cottage. We were assured that it would be a cake walk. A bunch of toddlers, a playground, early bed- no problem. After all, I am an old grizzled Army Sargent and used to going toe to toe with disrespectful teenagers. I walked in the cottage with the expectation that having to listen to the Tele-Tubbies on the TV would be as hard core as it would get that week.

Upon entering the cottage all the kids verbally assured me I wasn’t Daddy Brown. I reassured them I had the power of making snack time vegetables or pudding pops, it was their choice. They did not seem the least bit intimidated or concerned. I needed to rethink my strategy.

The rest of the day went great, the kids were very well mannered and polite. I had a blast on the playground with them and thought we were bonding well. Then it was bath time.

If your not familiar with young kids, they either hate bath time or can’t get enough of it. My wife went to take care of the girls, I was going to take care of the boys. I told the boys to get ready for a bath and they were all naked in about 5 seconds and fighting over who was getting in the tub. This was a new one for me. I guess I had to be more specific with the instruction.

So one boy got in the tub. I was helping him to get situated and noticed that all of his buddies were still hanging out in the bathroom. One was brushing his teeth the other was taking a dump. No shame at all, they were just taking care of business. The whole situation was system overload for me. I’m the guy that locks the bathroom door just to brush my teeth.

At bed time I had to run laps around the house trying to catch a kid that refused to go to bed. The more I tried to grab him the harder he laughed at my fat butt trying to catch him as I tripped over furniture and toys. I finally got him when I tripped and fell and he collapsed from hysterical laughter.

After that week I had a new found respect for Daddy and Mommy Brown. They are definitely the hardest working couple on campus and have an energy level that most younger staff here would have a hard time keeping up with. This video is just a small representation of the fruits of their ministry and a life well spent.

The Brown’s are a great example of what we are called to do, serve kids.-Launch

The Art Of Hospitality

One of the chores of being a HP at a large facility, especially an old large facility, is the steady stream of visitors that cross the threshold of our cottage on a weekly basis. We all know it’s one of them things you have to do, and many people who donate large sums of money tend to want to see if it’s actually doing some good.

But any of us that are on the receiving end of the tour bite our finger nails and worry if some of the kids are going to put on a “Show” for our visitors. I have this recurring nightmare that Daddy Warbucks is going to walk into my cottage and one of my boys will come out of the kitchen covered in ketchup yelling “Please help, they are trying to kill us”. Daddy Warbucks then proceeds to rip his 5 million dollar check in half, causing my normally calm and cool director to kick me in the groin and call me bad names.

Needless to say, I do worry about making a good impression on visitors. I understand fully that the support they give allows us to do the ministry we do. Being a private facility, we run almost exclusively off of private funding and donations. Which means I constantly have to be ready for a drop in visitor and to present the perfect family- and depending on what kind of mood the whole house is in, “Perfect Family” is very loosely defined.

One of the core skills our kids are taught when they first arrive is “Greeting Skills”. When a guest arrives, they answer the door, introduce themselves and offer the guest something to drink and then takes them on a tour of the house. My Kindergartner has gotten this skill down pat, he will chat up the guest and then drop little pieces of info like what year the house was built. He is my House Realtor. Once he learns what money is, were gonna have to watch he doesn’t try to sell the Cottage out from under us.

I have to admit, our kids posses better communication skills and proper manners than most adults I know. Every time we take the kids out shopping or to a restaurant it amazes me how they are the best behaved kids wherever we go. The so called “Normal” kids act like a bunch of fools while Mom and Dad set there smiling at what is to be their legacy on this earth sticking straws in their noses and yelling at the top of their lungs.

The tours that are at times a pain in the neck, have become a very important social skill lesson for the kids. Instead of talking with their heads down and mumbling under their breath when a question is asked, they learn to take pride in the cottage and eventually in themselves by showing off the place they call home. They even enjoy showing off their toys which has caused them to not bust up all of their belongings.

I may gripe about having to do another tour tomorrow, but just between us- I’m kinda looking forward to showing off how well my kids do and how proud they are of who and where they are. -Launch

Hot For Teacher

Allena Ward, Wendie Schweikert and Karen Robbins

Remember that old Van Halen song “Hot For Teacher”? This aint it.

Clinton, SC has the honor of being the female sexual predator capital of the United States. At least for now. Heres a run down on our current educational pedophiles.

Karen Robbins, 49, charged with three counts each of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and committing a lewd act on a child. The sex occurred with a 15-year-old in her car and twice at her home between September and November 2005, according to arrest warrants. There have also been new charges added. Unfortunately this fine lady was a teacher at our facility and it has involved at least one student. Two of my boys had her as a teacher.

Police said they began investigating after school officials turned over letters in July found at Bell Street Middle School, where Robbins worked during the 2006-2007 school year.

Allena Ward, also a former Bell Street Middle teacher, pleaded guilty to having sex with five teenage boys, some of them students where she taught. Allena took the “adult” out of “adultery”. She was sentenced yesterday to six years.

Wendie Ann Schweikert, a former elementary school teacher in Laurens County, was sentenced in June to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to having sex with an 11-year-old student.

There are several things about all these women other than the obvious that upset me. First of all, these women preyed on boys that have already had to struggle in this life. They looked for the weak, but that is what a predator does.

I do believe that these women were also treated completely different because of three distinct factors;

1. They were women- If I, or any of my brethren were to of committed the exact same crime we would not have been released on bail/ home arrest. The media story of three men who were teachers (Two in the same school) in the same area, sexually molesting children would have also opened up a media storm. To date there has been little mention in news.

2. They were teachers- Hey, who hasn’t had a fantasy about a teacher? But we live in reality, and in reality when these things happen, especially to elementary and middle school boys it is traumatic. All you have to do is be a HP for a little while and work with some boys who have been sexually abused. After that I doubt you would think of this as some boyhood fantasy come to life.

3. They were white- In this part of the country race seems to still be a dividing line that is deeply ingrained. Had this been three black, male teachers there would have been absolute chaos here. That is one thing most of the locals here do agree on. And even though the local court say these cases were handled fairly, statistically speaking, had they been African American or even possibly walked into the court with a dark tan, the jail time would have been a life sentence, especially if they had raped 5 children such as Allena Ward had.

I do believe that female sexual predators are way more prevalent than what we think. A female predator in our society can easily hide. Our focus has always been on male predators and Lifetime movies.

Allena Ward had some moving testimony from a psychologist who said she was child like and came from an overprotective ministers home, which caused her to have sex with at least 5 sixth grade boys. The judge commented that the psychologist testimony was very influential in her only getting a six year sentence. Tis good to be a white woman on days like that.

One thing is certain. The two boys in my cottage that had Karen Robbins as a teacher will not remember her for all the hours she spent spent teaching them the golden rules but instead will always think of her as a child molester. Even though no one else will. -Launch

Clinton, SC is a wonderful town and full of some the most awesome people you will ever meet. The fact that these women committed these act while employed in the local school district and in one case, our facility is in no way representative of the people and facilities here.

Sexual predators hide where there is prey. They blend in, socialize and strike when the opportunity presents itself. In every case, I believe the school district and the children’s home I am affiliated with, acted appropriately and were timely in any reports to the authorities that needed to be made. They have also been forthcoming with the local community and employees.

As for the racial divide- It is changing. especially as more people become educated. If Obama is elected president it may actually shock a few people here into this century. The majority of this town that believes and practices equality, vastly out number the intolerant inbreeds. Like any community, we got issues to work out.

The tragedy of this entire episode is the children that have had their lives changed forever.

The shock of all of this is the double standards in our society and own thinking mixed with a local sub standard judicial system.

The beauty of this whole mess is how all of the educational and child care professionals worked together to report suspicious activity once it was noticed, and to talk openly of the incident without trying to cover up the truth.