Former Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home resident David Rawls hadn’t been back “home” in 45 years until on June 6 and 7 Rawls, along with his brother Stanley Eisiliones, came “home” to the 2008 Children’s Home Alumni Reunion.
MONROE – Former Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home resident David Rawls hadn’t been back “home” in 45 years until on June 6 and 7 Rawls, along with his brother Stanley Eisiliones, came “home” to the 2008 Children’s Home Alumni Reunion.
More than 150 alumni, family and friends gathered on the grounds of the Children’s Home in Monroe to share memories and catch up on each others lives.
Former resident Frank Messer traveled all the way from Idaho to attend the event while Pam Peden had a trip of just minutes from her home in Monroe. Young and old alike enjoyed a special time of laughter and tears as they reminisced about growing up at LBCH.
The homecoming kicked off on Friday evening with a fish fry in the Frank and Mamie Stevens Pecan Grove Park.
Special entertainment for the evening included a flute solo by current resident Ryan of Joy Cottage, a number by the LBCH girls ensemble and finally words of wisdom from “America’s Minister of Encouragement,” Dennis Swanberg.
Swanberg’s message for the alumni was to not just live life, but to live it well, no matter where life takes you.
On Saturday, following doughnuts and coffee, the alumni gathered in the new Brenda Hall Abney Children’s Learning Center for picture viewing. The group browsed through thousands of pictures taken over the years at the Home. They found old photos of themselves and their LBCH brothers and sisters. Memories surfaced with each photo.
Berle Palmer recalled how he and his wife Lea came to live at the Children’s Home as cottage parents 15 days after they were married in 1958.
“What a way to start a marriage,” Palmer laughed. “We had as many as 20 boys in our cottage at one time.”
David Rawls recalled swimming in the bayou while living at LBCH. Times were harder when he lived at the home in the 1950s, he said.
He and the other boys mowed the park and helped in the dairy. Rawls shared that the time he spent at church while at the Children’s Home helped him through difficult times later in life, including a stint in Vietnam.
Following pontoon boat rides and a barbeque lunch back in the park, everyone was treated to more musical entertainment.
LBCH college student Jennifer surprised LBCH President and CEO Perry Hancock by singing a song he had written entitled I’m Talking About Jesus, and 8-year-old Jessica of Love Cottage performedJesus Loves Me before The New Liberty Quartet, a Southern gospel group, presented a mini-concert.
As with every LBCH Reunion – they take place every three years – the weekend’s events ended with a memorial service for alumni and employees who passed away since the last gathering. LBCH Director of Cottage Life Tommy Frost and his predecessor, Clarence Powell, led in the remembrances.
“It was a wonderful weekend,” Hancock said. “Listening to the stories of the alumni both young and old was both moving and inspiring.”