By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
MONROE – Construction is common place these days on the campus of the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and its executive director knows how much of a blessing it is for the changed lives of children and women in the state.
Renovation is scheduled to begin in November for the cottages serving children and house parents.
Two other projects are also scheduled to begin soon that will benefit children and their mothers who are transitioning from a homeless lifestyle to one of job readiness.
“We are so grateful for special friends who are making the much-needed renovations and new cottages possible,” Perry Hancock, president and CEO of the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and Family Ministries, shared during the recent trustees meeting.
Peace Cottage will receive new flooring, an updated kitchen and paneling will be removed.
Moreover, all eight of the cottages, built in the 1970s, will have been renovated by early 2016.
Grace and Feazell cottages were the first to receive renovations in 2013. Since then, Joy, Rucker, Love, Hope and Faith have also received updates.
While the cottage is receiving its renovations, construction has begun on Maggie’s Place, the first of three cottages for children and their mothers who are transitioning from a homeless lifestyle to one of job readiness through the Home Place program on campus. The cottages in Martin Village will provide an opportunity to receive a high school equivalency degree and life and employment skills training through the Christian Women Job Corps. Construction on Maggie’s Place is expected to be complete by early 2016.
Meanwhile, construction has also begun on Providence Apartments, which are four apartments designed to provide extended transitional living for women who are progressing in the Home Place program but need additional time to prepare of independent living. The women will be able to stay in the apartments for up to 12 months. Hancock said construction of Providence Apartments should be complete by the end of the year.
Hancock said having the housing and training for the women and their children will help in the battle of domestic violence, which he says is a problem in Monroe and other areas of Northeast Louisiana.
“The need is great here and we support those families not only with a place to live but with CWJC that we offer on our campus,” Hancock said. “For women who come to us who do not have jobs, CWJC is a key component to ensure their success after they leave here. If they can’t get a job, they can’t get out of the cycle of dependency.”
The Children’s Home currently operates CWJC on its campus for the women but soon will begin a second location of the training. The Children’s Home has signed an agreement to partner with the Monroe Housing Authority and will have the ability to train up to 25 more women who need help with job readiness skills.
“These women are just like the women we have here,” he said. “The same needs – incredible needs. We’ll hopefully celebrate a lot of success with them.”
Trustees also learned that a property has been obtained to build a Louisiana Baptist-sponsored ministry center for orphans and pastors and a medical clinic. Since the purchase of the 3.18-acre property is nearing finality, construction can move forward by the first of 2016.
A ground breaking is expected January 2016 and a completion date of August 31, 2016 is anticipated.
Stage 1 of the project is an orphanage and school. Additional phases will include Stage 2, which includes a hotel, medical clinic, and farming. Stage 3 will establish a community of earthquake-protected housing.
The Louisiana Baptist Haiti project is an effort sponsored by several Louisiana Baptist churches and LBC.
Haiti was devastated by a Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless. Louisiana Baptists were among those who provided disaster relief soon after the earthquake and that effort has continued with the partnership. The work moved from disaster relief to rebuild to evangelistic multiplication.
Over time, several Louisiana Baptist churches have been involved. In addition, the Children’s Home has committed to the partnership network.
Louisiana Baptists have partnered with Haitian Pastor Jean Odvald Louis, who has a strong church in Croix-Des-Bouquets. He is a discipler and church planting pastor, having started 17 additional churches, according to Wayne Sheppard, Louisiana Baptist Convention executive assistant to the executive director.
The vision, according to Sheppard, includes the creation of a Children’s Village. Along with the Children’s Village, a housing community will be developed. Micro businesses and trade schools will be established.
It will also include a hotel, operated by Haitians, and a school for educating the children. The goal of the Children’s Village is to raise up Haitian Daniel’s and Esther’s in the land.
An overarching part of the work will include planting a church in the area. From there the property will be a base for continued church planting throughout Haiti.
Trustees also learned that a foster care and adoption conference is scheduled for Nov. 6-7 at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
The third annual conference is sponsored by the Children’s Home, NOBTS and Crossroads NOLA of First Baptist Church in New Orleans.
Since 2013, the Children’s Home has placed 292 children in foster homes.
For more information about foster care and adoption, email firstname.lastname@example.org.