Houseparents play an integral role in the lives of children at Palmer Home. They are the loving arms that embrace each new child who enters our care. They ensure each child knows they are safe and that their needs will be met. Houseparents teach children how to love and be loved, how to have a strong relationship with parents, and how to thrive in a healthy family environment. It takes a special couple to fill the role of houseparents at Palmer Home and the way in which the Lord fills these positions is purposeful – just like Him.
Ideally, couples who are interested in becoming houseparents are dedicated to Christ and to the Palmer Home mission of serving vulnerable children. The process begins with an initial interview where couples answer questions related to their family life, their interest in pursuing the houseparent role, and then through sharing their testimony. Next, a team of staff members evaluates the couple’s potential fit within the ministry. After the evaluation, the couple completes the “Prepare Enrich” assessment with interviews with our Director of Whole Child, Lauren Strickland.
The Whole Child Initiative is part of the heartbeat of Palmer Home; it is trauma informed educational training that equips houseparents with a better understanding of the children in their care and provides tools to nurture the kids holistically. Initial houseparent training also includes shadowing other houseparents and building relationships with the children.
Following completion of “Prepare Enrich,” families participate in joint and individual assessment debriefs via virtual meeting designed to help us determine fit between prospective families and Palmer Home, as well as help guide families’ time and conversations during on-campus interviews.
Once a couple completes the “Prepare Enrich,” they are invited to the Palmer Home campus where they interview with the leadership team as well as current houseparents. The potential houseparents also have an opportunity to ask questions and to experience some aspects of everyday life on the campus.
The process of becoming a houseparent takes time. Palmer Home carefully assesses potential houseparents because we strive for the couple to stay long term and for Palmer Home to be the right fit for them. After a couple is hired as houseparents, they move into a very important training phase where they learn more about the Whole Child Initiative.
The Whole Child Initiative training is ongoing for the rest of the houseparents’ tenure at Palmer Home. Monthly training allows for houseparents to continue to grow in wisdom and grace as they serve the needs of their children. Since each child who enters Palmer Home has endured some form of trauma, the Whole Child Initiative training is a crucial piece in the healing and restoration process.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to finding houseparents; they range in ages and each come from different backgrounds. Each couple brings varied life experiences and perspectives which allow them to relate with their children individually and compassionately. Some houseparents already have biological children while others do not. Although there are many unique attributes that lend to uniqueness among the houseparents, one key trait unifies them: a desire to see children heal and grow mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
“I can’t say enough about our houseparents,” said Ashley Gray, Vice President of Children Services. “They are a phenomenal group of people. The kids become their kids. They see the kids’ successes, failures, and struggles. They are their biggest fans.”
Palmer Home’s ultimate goal is to give every child the opportunity to seek salvation in Jesus Christ. Houseparents get to demonstrate the love of Jesus on a daily basis through their ongoing patience, relentless love, humility, gentleness, and kindness.
If you or someone you know are interested in becoming a houseparent at Palmer Home for Children, don’t wait! Apply now and see what the Lord might have in store for you.
Elizabeth Heiskell is a household name throughout the South. The author of several cookbooks, including her newest release in November, The Southern Living Party Cookbook: A Modern Guide to Gathering, connects with people through her fuss-free recipes, flare for style, and hilarious storytelling.
Love for children, food, and entertaining are evident in everything Elizabeth does. Whether she’s harvesting tomatoes in the garden on her family farm, Woodson Ridge Farm in Oxford, Mississippi, catering a wedding reception, or demonstrating how to make ice cream layer cake on the set of the “Today” show, the Debutante Farmer is bound to be infusing laughter and fun into every moment. Elizabeth’s spirit for family, service, and Palmer Home for Children exudes her trademark passion as well.
Elizabeth was first introduced to Palmer Home when she was a student at Presbyterian Day School in Cleveland, Mississippi. At the end of her sixth-grade year she and her classmates spent the day on the Columbus campus. They cooked supper, played games, and enjoyed activities together with the children at Palmer Home.
“It was our biggest event of the year,” she said. “It was just magical. I thought we might be sad and need to cheer up the children living there, but what was so amazing to me was how happy all of the kids were. They were so filled with joy, love, and hope. They were amazing kids.”
Elizabeth left Palmer Home with an invaluable life lesson written on her heart.
“We are not stuck,” she said. “Regardless of the situation, you can always find peace and hope when you are rooted in God. When He is at the core you can be joy-filled.”
The children at Palmer Home made a lasting impression on Elizabeth; one she would never forget.
After moving to her farm in Oxford, Elizabeth reconnected with Palmer Home and became involved with supporting the ministry that has held a special connection since childhood. She hosted a Farm-to-Table event at her farm, where the Treblemakers, Palmer Home’s children’s choir, sang for the dinner guests. She also catered the inaugural Tailgate for Palmer event on the Ole Miss campus in 2016, and has participated in our annual Radiothon over the years as well.
Elizabeth visited the Columbus campus toward the end of the summer this year where she spent time with the children at the greenhouses. She was thoroughly impressed with the brilliant agriculture program, but what captivated her most were the hearts of the children. After harvesting all of the watermelons, the students donated them to the children at the local Boys and Girls Club.
“Regardless of trials, we still have to remember to give back, to take care of others,” Elizabeth said. “This is ingrained in these kids. Not only is Palmer Home growing wonderful produce on their land, but they are also growing kids who are learning to work and to be accountable; kids who are learning to take care of the land and themselves. They are raising children who will be amazing citizens, who will know how to impact the communities in this state or wherever they choose to live.
“The reason why Palmer Home works so beautifully is because at the core of everything there, it all goes back to God. God is evident everywhere! Magic happens there. It’s miraculous.”
At Palmer Home, cottages typically include 6-8 children. Finding a recipe that everyone loves (and is easy!) can be a tough task for houseparents. But, Elizabeth knows a thing or two about cooking for a crowd. She shared one of her favorite recipes that is sure to make a houseparent’s (or anyone’s, for that matter!) night a little easier: The Yoste Roast – simple, delicious, and a tried and true crowd-pleaser. Enjoy!
If my friend Julie Yoste hears you are sick, sad, or have an ingrown toenail, she is sure to show up with her Yoste Roast. When I shared this recipe on the “Today” show, friends from all over the country sent me pictures of the grocery store aisle where the shelf of pepperoncini peppers was completely empty. This roast is perfect as it is, but there is an epic sandwich just waiting to be built from the leftovers. Cut a crusty French bread loaf lengthwise down the center. Pile the roast on the bottom piece, cover with sliced provolone cheese, and broil until the cheese melts. Spread horseradish mayo on the top piece of bread and cover the sandwich. Forget Philly, call it a Delta cheesesteak. If your principles will not allow you to add a stick of butter, this recipe is just as delicious without it.
Serves 8 Hands-on 15 minutes Total 8 hours, 15 minutes
1 (4-pound) boneless chuck roast
2 teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 (0.6-ounce) envelope zesty Italian salad dressing and seasoning mix
1 (16-ounce) jar pepperoncini peppers, undrained
4 ounces (1⁄2 cup) salted butter, softened (optional)
Garnish: fresh thyme
- Pat the roast dry with paper towels; sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over high; add the roast, and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Place the roast in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker; sprinkle the seasoning mix over the roast. Pour the pepperoncini peppers and liquid over the roast. Top with the butter, if desired.
- Cover and cook on LOW until roast is very tender, about 8 hours, or on HIGH, about 5 hours.
- Remove the roast from the slow cooker with a slotted spoon. Serve with roasted root vegetables. Garnish, if desired.
Join us #atthetable this Christmas season and help hope grow! Donate online. Your donation allows Palmer Home to continue providing superior care to children in need. Share you moments #atthetable with us on Facebook, @PalmerHome.
When was the last time you overheard a first grader mention Sir Isaac Newton and his Laws of Motion? Or when was the last time a third grader demonstrated Newton’s cradle with a basic understanding of the conservation of energy and kinetic energy? If it’s been a while, then head over to the Palmer School to witness students of all ages soaking up new information through the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program.
Palmer School introduced its new STEM program to the curriculum this year and as a result, kindergartners to high school seniors are being exposed to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in new and practical ways. STEM programs are shown to help develop communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and data analysis skills in students as well as creating a solid foundation for understanding the ever-evolving technological world in which we live.
Lisa Rooker, the STEM teacher, taught middle school science in the public school system for 28 years. She was intrigued by the challenge of teaching the STEM objectives to the academic spectrum of students in elementary school through high school, but she was unsure of the younger students’ ability to grasp the concepts. Much to her joy and surprise, it has proven to be easier than she anticipated. She teaches the same concepts to all of the students, but simplifies the content for the younger students and enriches the content for the older students.
“The young kids love it,” she said. “After learning about Newton’s Laws and having hands-on time with Newton’s Cradle, one of the children brought me a book about Sir Isaac Newton and asked me to read it to the class. They are making connections about scientific laws and how they affect and contribute to the world around us.”
As students brainstorm and collaborate together, their critical thinking skills are honed and they develop practical problem-solving practices. They ask themselves exploratory questions such as “How or why does this process work?” They also learn to reassess situations based on trial and error, prompting more exploratory questions such as “Why didn’t this work?” and “What can we change to make this more effective?”
The students learn about the STEM objectives using a very hands-on approach. They utilize a Promethean Interactive Board, Lego Mindstorm kits and iPads to deepen their understanding of science, technology and computer programming. The students are learning about robotics with Legos and can even control the robotic pieces through online software. Students also learn the basics of writing and utilizing software code through the use of Sphero Balls.
“Overall, we want the students to have a positive attitude toward science,” Rooker said. “The STEM background will allow our students to pursue interests in these fields and have greater career opportunities down the road.”
Recently the students learned about Newton’s Third Law of Motion: for every action, there is an equal or opposite action. Simply stated, the law might seem difficult to understand or vaguely applicable. The students created balloon racers using Matchbox race cars, straws, balloons and CDs for wheels. Newton’s Third Law came to life before their eyes and they understood the concept in a tangible, meaningful way.
Students have also learned the principles behind other hands-on experiments and projects; building bridges out of popsicle sticks and using hot glue and masking tape to withstand the weight of one hundred pennies. They also created towers out of marshmallows and skewers demonstrating the engineering principles that pertain to seismic plates and activity.
“The students come into class brimming with new ideas and ways they have seen science and technology at work around them,” she said. “I often hear things like, ‘I saw this story on the news and it reminded me of…’ The students are so enthusiastic about the practical applications of the STEM program. They are more aware of the world around them. They have taken these concepts and are running full speed ahead.”
Next up, Potential Kinetic Energy and a trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. If your memory of non-Newtonian fluids and the effects of polymers feels a little fuzzy, ask one of our students for an explanation and some practical application in the world today. You’ll be amazed at what you hear.
When you sit down with your family for a meal on Thanksgiving, what do you anticipate more –feast or family?
At Palmer Home the answer is easy – family. (Although we enjoy the feast as well!)
For many, Thanksgiving and Christmas are opportunities people have to slow down and spend time with their families. For our Palmer Home children and houseparents, the opportunity to sit at the table and enjoy a meal together comes daily.
Breaking bread together is not the only thing that happens while at the table – stories are shared, laughs are had, and games are played. Quite simply – life happens when our families enjoy each other’s company at the table.
When you reflect on Thanksgiving with your family, consider joining our Palmer Home family on Giving Tuesday. Join us at the table on November 27 and make a difference in children’s lives.
When you donate to Palmer Home, you are allowing children to experience family and community for the first time. You are providing children a life that allows them to grow and mature in a Christ-center homed filled with love, support and peace. Your gift will change the life of a child.
Fifteen years ago, after an awkward blind date, if someone had told Michael and Lacey Conaway that one day they would be sitting on their front porch in Columbus, Mississippi at 7:45 a.m., drinking coffee and discussing the logistics of the day for life with eight children – they would have laughed out loud and said, “No way! That’s crazy…” but it’s funny how the Lord has a way of shaking things up and turning chaos into beauty.
Thankfully, Michael and Lacey’s second date went much better than their first, and eventually the two seminary students fell in love, got married, settled down in a small town in Oklahoma and were blessed with three children.
Michael worked as a youth minister for 13 years and Lacey as a Nurse Practitioner. They became involved in the lives of the children in their youth group and discovered that many of them had difficult home lives. Lacey would tell Michael, only half-joking, that she wanted to take all the kids home and provide a happier, healthier life of stability for them.
In May of 2017, Lacey received what she considered, a humorous email from her sister saying she had found the perfect new job for Lacey and Michael as houseparents at Palmer Home. One of the perks of the job was that it came with an enormous house in a beautiful gated community…and potentially six to eight additional children! Although the Conaways were looking for career changes at the time, the opportunity seemed like a bit of a stretch, given that it was two states and 530 miles away from their home in Oklahoma.
For the next several months, the Conaways continued looking for new career opportunities, but everything that appeared promising eventually fell through. The couple continued to pray for the Lord to guide and lead them in their next steps, and although He remained quiet, they waited patiently on Him and His timing.
In February of 2018 Lacey gave a second thought to the houseparent opportunity.
“What if we actually did this?” she asked Michael.
He was open to the idea and they sent in their resumes two days later. They heard back from Palmer Home within 24 hours, had a phone interview a week later, and flew out to Columbus for an in-person interview a month later.
“God opens doors and closes doors,” Lacey said. “There was a time when He was awfully quiet, but when He closes all the doors and then one opens, you pay attention.”
After their interviews, it became clear to the Conaways that the Lord was indeed leading them to become houseparents at Palmer Home for Children.
“When God calls you to do something, you can either move into it even though it’s scary and unknown, and in doing so you can move into the fullness of it and enjoy being in His will – or you can choose not to listen and stay where things are safe and known, but miss out on all that He has for you,” said Lacey.
The Conaways didn’t want to miss out on the fullness of being in God’s will for them, so they answered His call, packed up a U-Haul with their belongings, three kids, and their dog, and moved into a cottage at Palmer Home for Children in June of 2018.
It’s been an amazing adventure of learning, loving, praying, and growing. The Conaway family has grown significantly since moving to Palmer Home – gaining five new children once arriving on campus. Michael and Lacey love and cherish the five teenage boys in their home and delight in nurturing them, teaching them, and most of all, loving them on a daily basis in a hundred little ways.
Lacey laughs as she talks about her new normal of cooking for five growing teenage boys.
“They sure know how to eat,” she said. “I basically double every recipe and still end up making grilled cheese or quesadillas for kids at the end of the night.”
All of the cooking isn’t entirely her responsibility though. There are certain aspects of cooking the boys enjoy and she appreciates their willingness to help in the kitchen from time to time.
“They like to grill and they want to be the ones to prep the meat, season it, and grill it,” Lacey said. “One night I received a call asking if we could take in a baby girl for a few nights, and within 30 minutes someone was carrying a crib into my house. I asked the boys if they would be willing to help with dinner and before I knew it, they whipped up burgers to grill for dinner that night.”
Michael and Lacey are finding their rhythm and building relationships with their new teenagers on a daily basis. They marvel at how quickly their family and their hearts have expanded to include five new children.
“We understand that we have a shorter time frame with these boys under our roof given that they are all high school and college-aged,” Michael said. “We want to prepare them for the real world with practical skills like cooking, laundry, budgeting, and the importance of a good work ethic, but more than that, like any parent, we want them to be successful and to know they are deeply loved and valued.”
Michael leads a weekly Bible study with the boys on Thursday nights; they are currently doing a study on purity and invited some older girls from other cottages to join them.
“Our goal isn’t so much to affect how our children, all eight of them, behave; we want to affect who they are,” said Michael. “Just like how our relationship with God isn’t about following a set of rules, but instead it’s about really knowing Him and allowing Him to change us from the inside out – that’s what we’re about.”
Poised, confident, determined, capable, diligent, industrious, humble, graceful and kind – all of these words help paint a picture of an incredible young woman, Katlin, a former student at Palmer Home for Children, who is now at Mississippi State University, studying to be a future equine surgeon, and forever a member of the Palmer Home family.
Katlin came to Palmer Home when she was a year old. She sat on a horse for the first time when she was just three, started riding at five and began formal riding lessons at seven.
“I’ve never been afraid of a horse,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be close to them.”
From a young age, Katlin recalls feeling comfortable and at ease around the gentle giants. She found a safe haven within the walls and stalls of the Palmer Home barn. She often retreated there during stressful, hard, or sad times, always comforted by her understanding of the horses’ thoughts and their unspoken understanding of her feelings.
“Horses are amazing because you don’t need to speak a word to be understood,” she said.
The barn at Palmer Home became a second home to Katlin and she spent as much time as possible caring for the horses, riding, and jumping. She enjoys the entire process with riding and never shies away from the less glamorous side of grooming and tacking her horses. She values the one-on-one time with the horses and the trust that is built over time.
“Trust is everything with horses, if there’s no trust, there’s nothing,” she said. “It’s built slowly, not overnight.”
Over the years Katlin has put in hundreds of hours at the barn and other riding venues, gaining valuable trust and experience with horses of all personalities, capabilities and temperaments. She became intrigued with the idea of equine surgery and medicine as a result of her time spent with the massive beauties. While others might be intimidated by the complexities of veterinarian care, Katlin is fascinated by the challenge of discovering what animals are feeling without the use of words.
“You have to tap into your knowledge with the symptoms that are presented and then put two and two together,” she said. “I’ve always loved puzzles and veterinarian care is like solving a puzzle.”
Palmer Home for Children understands the benefits of therapeutic riding and created the Hope Reins Riding Program to encourage mental, emotional and physical development through equine-assisted activities. Pam Cunningham, Hope Reins Director, runs the program five days a week, and as an avid horse rider with 45 years of riding experience, she guides the program with wisdom and care. Every student at Palmer Home has the opportunity to participate, and participation means much more than just riding horses! Mrs. Pam, as the students call her, teaches the students how to brush, clean and care for the horses’ daily needs, as well as how to muck stalls, properly approach horses, bring them in from the pasture, put on a halter and lead, assist the horse shoer, hitch horses to a hitching post, and of course, English riding and jumping!
“Kids come alone to Palmer Home and their transition into new living conditions with new family members, new houseparents, new counselors, can be overwhelming,” Mrs. Pam said. “Kids can go to the barn, a safe place where they feel happy.”
Katlin and Mrs. Pam have a special bond that began when Katlin was in fourth grade and started taking private riding lessons at Mrs. Pam’s house.
“Katlin’s growth over time is unbelievable,” Mrs. Pam said. “She is by far one of the best riders to go through our program.”
Katlin’s equestrian prowess grew over time under the training and care of Mrs. Pam and her academic achievements mounted over time as well. Katlin gratefully reflects on the opportunities she received at Palmer Home and the family that they became.
“They were always there for me,” she said.
She attended Heritage Academy and graduated high school with honors. After that she moved out of her cottage and into an on-campus apartment at Palmer Home and attended East Mississippi Community College for two years, graduating with honors again! She transferred to Mississippi State University and hopes to graduate with honors in 2020.
Over the years Mrs. Pam has taught Katlin much more than the basics of horse care and riding. She taught her how to jump horses, compete in show events, and fox hunt – one of Katlin’s passions that has grown into a vocation. Mrs. Pam has taken Katlin and other students to horse shows, races, fox hunts, and other events off campus to further their love and understanding of all things equine.
Katlin’s love of fox hunting led her to pursue a job as a whipper-in at the renown Hard Away Hounds in Greensboro, Alabama, where she spent three summers and most weekends assisting in fox hunting and gaining more experience and a greater repoire with horses, hunters, and hounds alike.
“I love fox hunting,” she said. “You’re surrounded by people who love horses and hounds which are two of my favorite things!”
On her 20th birthday, Mrs. Pam took Katlin away for the weekend to the Rolex Three-Day event in Kentucky, where she met an Olympian in the sport of eventing. She dreams of competing in the Rolex Three-Day event one day in jumping, cross country and dressage.
Now, Katlin currently works at a nearby veterinarian clinic and manages to squeeze in riding back at Palmer Home between classes and work. Upon graduation from MSU, Katlin has her eyes set on obtaining an international internship in Holland where she will complete a two-year residency focusing on Equine Surgery.
Katlin reflects on her life at Palmer Home for Children and her passion for horses and riding with an insightful thought about herself.
“One thing I’ve learned in my journey through Palmer and my career with horses is that I am a doer,” she said. “When things shouldn’t be able to work out and when the odds are stacked against me, I’ve had to just do. What other option did I have? Giving up has never been and will never be an option for me. I will always do what it takes to accomplish what I want.”
Are you looking for ways to support the life-changing ministry of Palmer Home for Children? There are a myriad of ways you can support Palmer Home – through giving financially, praying consistently, spreading the word, providing respite care for houseparents, sponsoring children, or creating fundraisers on behalf of Palmer Home – just to name a few!
Social media is a powerful and effective communication tool. Create a Facebook fundraiser and share about the uplifting work and vision of Palmer Home for Children. Share about the ways that Palmer Home has touched your heart and life and highlight your enthusiasm for this incredible ministry. Start by clicking Fundraisers in the left menu of your news feed, select Raise Money and follow the prompts. Be sure to set a goal limit and a fundraiser closing date! And use our hashtag – #whyIgive2PHC!
Employee Giving Campaign
Spread the word about Palmer Home for Children to your coworkers! You might be surprised how much people want to give, but that they don’t know who or how to support. Put up fliers around your office, especially in high traffic areas such as the kitchen and breakroom. Ask your Human Resources department for permission to display more detailed information about Palmer Home in your office. Consider hosting a donut and coffee morning break, a pizza lunch, or an afternoon snack time to tell your coworkers about Palmer Home and the amazing ways God is using it to transform lives. Ask your coworkers to become involved with you as you support the ministry of Palmer Home. We have a number of businesses throughout Mississippi and Tennessee that have annual giving campaigns. Our development team would be ecstatic to get a campaign going with your employer!
Like to eat good food? Enjoy the company of good friends? Blend the two together and host a dinner with friends and share about Palmer Home and your desire to encourage and support this unique, ministry-minded organization. Ask your friends to consider partnering with you as you partner with Palmer Home.
Wedding & Party Favors
Are you getting married soon? Or are you hosting an important birthday party or family reunion? As much as your guests would love another fridge magnet or a goody bag filled with Jordan almonds, think about donating a gift to Palmer Home in your guests’ honor. Print up a brief description about Palmer Home for each table and encourage to guests to look into this significant organization.
Informational Table at Church
It’s always nice to chat with people after church, especially with coffee and donuts! Ask someone on your church staff about setting up an informational table about Palmer Home for Children one Sunday this fall and spread the word about the ways the Lord is working in the lives of these precious children and about ways people can get involved. A box of donuts always helps to pique interest!
Small group “Adoption”
Are you in a small group, Bible study, or prayer team? Consider asking your small group to “adopt” Palmer Home for Children for the year. Make a point to pray for Palmer Home on a weekly basis, for children, for staff, for healing and hope, for wisdom and unity, for peace and joy, for patience and perseverance, and for love and grace to abound. Ask your small group to pool together resources and make a donation to Palmer Home. Is your small group looking for a way to serve the community? Contact Palmer Home and schedule a volunteer work day on campus!
Do you ever wonder where the day went? It’s as if you woke up and blinked a few times and suddenly the clock says “noon” and a few blinks later you’re washing up dinner dishes and thinking about all the things left on your To Do list. Setting a daily prayer alarm on your watch or phone is a great way to create intentional time in your busy schedule to slow down and pray for a few minutes. Set a daily Palmer Home Prayer Alarm and create a meaningful prayer routine that will encourage your heart and bless the lives of others.
Palmer Home for Children is blessed by the support of our amazing extended Palmer Home family. Monthly donations allow Palmer Home to continue its restorative work in the lives of children. For just $19 a month, you can become a Palmer Hero!
Sponsor a Child
Sponsorship is a way to invest in the life of a young person at Palmer Home in a more consistent way. This is an incredibly important role in the lives of our children and it is something that we do not take lightly. Sponsors actively participate in the lives of our students by attending ball games, ballet performances, school recitals and inviting them over for family dinners and even holidays! Sponsors often maintain relationships with their students well past their time at Palmer Home and the fruit of these relationships is beautiful and bountiful.
Houseparents passionately believe in the vision and mission of Palmer Home for Children. Part of their mission is to create safe and healthy living environments for the children in their care; making a tasty and nutritious meal each night is one way to nurture their children and carve out space to talk about the day, share, laugh, encourage and care for each other. Eating out at restaurants is a special treat for children and houseparents alike. Consider gifting a restaurant gift certificate to a cottage family for a night off of cooking and cleaning! Or order pizza and salads from a local pizza place for a cottage family or provide a gift certificate to a local ice cream parlor or frozen yogurt shop for a fun and sweet treat. Contact Palmer Home to see if any cottages have specific needs for furniture or if they have room to accommodate the awesome foosball table that has been collecting dust in your basement for the past few years!
Houseparents are amazing people! They love and live sacrificially, tirelessly meeting the needs of the special children within their care. You can bless houseparents with a gift certificate for a dinner date and maybe even a movie afterward. If you really want to knock their socks off, volunteer to watch their kids at the cottage while they are out on town! Coffee dates are always welcome too.
A night out on the town is a wonderful treat and so is a weekend away. Are you available to become a certified respite caregiver? Your gift of time is an invaluable way that you can bless the Palmer Home community and can allow our incredible houseparents the opportunity to visit friends and family or attend a wedding or event out of town for a night or two. Time away can provide rest and relaxation and allows houseparents an opportunity to recharge their batteries and reconnect with each other.
Full Time Caregivers (Houseparents)
Have you felt called to care for children in need? We currently have a need for houseparents on our Hernando and Columbus campuses. Houseparents live on-site and care for a max of eight children. All house parents receive rigorous training and learn how to care for the most visible need in a child’s life, while also giving attention to all the areas affected by the most pressing need, whether physical, emotional, educations or spiritual through our Whole Child approach to care.
Work Days on Campus
Do you like to work with your hands? Are you gifted with certain skill sets that will help the Palmer Home campuses? Grab your best friend, your kids, your small group, your neighbors, your college roommates, your band, your recreation league team and head over to Palmer Home for a morning or afternoon of work and play. The opportunities are endless!
Palmer Home hosts several fun and exciting events throughout the year. Our next big event is Tailgate for Palmer on Saturday, October 27th from 7 – 11 p.m. in Oxford at the Olivia and Archie Manning Performance Center on the University of Mississippi campus, celebrating SEC football, food and fun! There will be plenty of gridiron action for your viewing pleasure on the big screen. Feast on a variety of tailgate treats provided by Oxford’s best restaurants and caterers. Join us for a one-of-a-kind sports experience. Click for tickets. You don’t want to miss this!! Check out our events page for more upcoming events!
As you can see, the opportunities to support Palmer Home for Children are endless. It takes a moment to make a lifetime of difference, and your life will also be changed as you assist in the restorative and healing process at Palmer Home. Come join the fun! Contact us today!
Many people create a picture in their minds of what a children’s home must look like. But when someone visits Palmer Home’s Hernando campus, nestled in the middle of 145 acres of woods and a 75 acre lake, it blows all those stereotypes out of the water. Just a simple tour of the campus, learning about Palmer Home’s history and hearing what we’re doing right now to restore children quickly changes their perception.
For the last seven years, Kirby and Glenn Floyd have partnered with Palmer Home to host a dinner party on Thursday evening and the Panther Creek Ranch Dove Hunt on their property, located adjacent from Palmer Home’s Hernando Campus the following Saturday. This event provides a great opportunity for DeSoto county and Memphis residents to visit the campus and interact with children and staff. With help from the Floyds, this event has turned into a phenomenal opportunity to help spread the word about how Palmer Home continues to Make Lives Whole.
Kirby originally approached Palmer Home about co-hosting the event as a way to introduce her family and friends to Palmer Home. She served as a relief caregiver for Palmer Home in her 20s, and has been passionate about the mission ever since. While this year’s exclusive sponsor dove hunt takes place on Saturday morning, September 8, the Floyds will also host a sold out dinner party, Shotguns & Sunflowers, on Thursday, September 6, to bring the community together to learn more about the mission of Palmer Home.
On the day of the hunt, participants always hear firsthand about the mission but, more importantly, they get to interact with children affected by the work.
“It’s a unique opportunity for families, some who may be unfamiliar with Palmer Home, to not only hear about the joy the organization brings, but also to witness it in person,” said Kristin Budzak, Palmer Home Community Development Coordinator.
We are so thankful for the many sponsors who have invested in this event. We are proud to say that Shotguns & Sunflowers 2018 is completely sold out!
Even so, you can still get involved in the mission of Palmer Home. Learn more today!
Last month, 20 high school students from Palmer Home for Children packed their bags and headed to Mississippi State University for a week of learning, growing, and dreaming about the future at LeaderSTATE. This unique camp specializes in cultivating tomorrow’s leaders by building confidence, providing career guidance, encouraging strong character, and instilling inspiration to carry them into the future. Students from both Palmer Home campuses arrived on the university’s campus and geared up for an action packed week of excitement and fun.
Throughout the week students formed close bonds with each other and with their camp counselors in a variety of ways. Days began bright and early at 6 a.m. with group exercise sessions. Nothing says “bonding” more than a brisk morning jog with fellow sleepy-eyed friends followed by breakfast together in the dining hall.
Daily seminars focused on different aspects of leadership, each complete with a speaker and practical workshop. Days ended with group dinners in the dining hall, free time at the campus recreational area, the Sanderson Center, and a devotional speaker highlighting the spiritual side of leadership.
Highlights from the week included an art seminar that focused on “The Essence of Me.” A local Starkville artist led the students in a three hour workshop addressing questions such as “who am I?” and “what makes me great?” The artist challenged students to look within themselves and gain a better understanding of their personalities, their strengths and weaknesses, their God-given talents and skills, and to examine their feelings in relation to their life experiences. After a time of introspection, the students painted a facial expression on canvases they felt represented their personalities and reflected upon how their personalities will help shape their futures. Students were delighted to learn more about themselves and enjoyed the opportunity to express themselves through art. At the end of the week, the students presented their painted canvases to members of the Palmer Home staff and explained the meanings behind them.
Another highlight of the week took place at the FedEx Corporate facility in Memphis, Tennessee. Students watched as packages arrived into the facility, moved and sorted down the line, and eventually departed the facility on airplanes according to their final destinations. FedEx executives met with Palmer Home students and shared personal stories from their childhoods and encouraged the students to consider their career potentials. Students were inspired by their conversations with the executives and asked poignant questions about which life skills were most helpful to them along their career journeys, what helped them succeed when faced with challenges, and how their careers at FedEx changed their lives.
Students also spent time at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. Students soaked up the historical content displayed at the museum and discussed the importance of standing up for what is right in the world today. Students and counselors discussed the importance of integrity in leadership at length and counselors debriefed the students about the importance of civil rights in our past, present, and future. They left the museum both solemn and filled with hope that their lives of leadership will help create a brighter and more beautiful future for generations to come.
One final highlight of the incredible week spent at LeaderSTATE took place at the Mississippi State University Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach at McCool Hall. Students toured the envelope-pushing facility and were inspired by the creativity and inventiveness overflowing within its walls. Students learned about the process of starting a business and were amazed to hear stories of students who launched successful businesses while still in school! Their financial literacy class as well as their public speaking seminar further impressed upon them the importance of education and the unimaginable potential stored within each of their hearts and minds.
The students had an impressive and inspiring lunch with Hagan Walker, CEO and Co-Founder of the innovative glow-in-the-dark ice cube company, GLO. The Mississippi State University alum offered students insight into launching a start-up company and detailed his path to success and the extensive resources available to students within the state of Mississippi.
The week at LeaderSTATE proved to be both inspiring and powerful. Back at Palmer Home for Children, students continue to learn more about themselves, their interests, strengths, goals and dreams. The Palmer Home staff will keep encouraging students to pursue their dreams and challenging them to be brave and bold in their pursuit. The leadership skills developed and honed at LeaderSTATE are woven into the fabric of life on campus at Palmer Home throughout the year and the confidence grown at LeaderSTATE will continue to empower and inspire these incredible students for years to come.
What do you get when you combine a need for more shade, an outdated dormitory, a generous community of supporters, and several hardworking mission teams? The much needed and greatly anticipated Hazard Family Pavilion at Palmer Home for Children.
In 1964 the Hazard family saw a need to build an emergency men’s dormitory on the Columbus campus at Palmer Home. The Hazard Dormitory served its original purpose for several years, but in recent years it was utilized less and less due to the cottage family lifestyle. Meanwhile, many trees were lost due to storms and tornadoes over the years creating a shortage of shady places for children to seek refuge from the intense summer sun. In the spring of 2018, it was decided that the Hazard Dormitory would undergo a major remodel in order to be repurposed into a pavilion.
Palmer Home approached the Hazard family and told them of the remodel plans for the dormitory and the family was excited to support the project. Word about the renovation also spread locally and the community donated with their time and resources.
With Tom Green, Director of Facilities and Operations, at the helm, things began to fall into place. In addition to overseeing the upkeep and maintenance of facilities and landscaping on campus, Tom oversees all of the mission teams that volunteer at Palmer Home for Children throughout the year, usually somewhere between 25 to 35 teams per year. Mission teams range from high school and college age students to multigenerational church groups to retired people with carpentry, plumbing and painting skills. Mission trips to Palmer Home offer great experiences for youth looking toward the future with specific vocations skills in mind.
“Everything is a teachable moment at Palmer Home,” Tom said. “If we’re not teaching, we’re not doing our job. We are teaching our residents and visiting mission team youth to ‘fish’; how to feed their families with the skills and training they receive here.”
Mission trips to Palmer Home also offer an exciting and eye-opening experience for anyone considering going into ministry or the mission field.
Mission teams and residents of Palmer Home certainly learned and utilized practical life skills during the renovation of the Hazard Family Pavilion. Teams visiting between March and June helped turn the vision of the pavilion into a reality. Mission teams and residents helped with demolition, framing, sanding floors, painting, plumbing and landscaping. A local team from Fairview Baptist Church joyfully served by taking down bricks and cinder block from the old dormitory and loading them into trucks that construction companies donated for trash removal. Palmer Home hired outside electrical and mechanical teams for jobs that required professional work.
“There are no shortcuts when it comes to a faith-based ministry,” Tom said. “ “The colors have dimension and demonstrate a spirit of caring.”
With its open front and rebuilt fireplace flanked with permanently mounted furniture, the Hazard Family Pavilion is now one of the coolest spots on campus. Along with picnic tables and oscillating fans, LED lights, a fully-equipped handicap accessible bathroom, and a big screen TV, residents and visiting mission teams find shelter from the sun and engage in fun, relationship-building activities. Tom envisions people gathered inside the Hazard Family Pavilion for movie nights and football games.
What once stood out as a commercial style building among the quaint and charming cottages now blends in beautifully with its own sense of welcome and charm.
The renovation of the Hazard Family Pavilion is part of the bigger vision and mission of Palmer Home for Children.
“It’s really all about God and people who care about children. It’s about taking children who have been abandoned and rescuing and restoring them into viable citizens who love the Lord. It’s about teaching them how to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our world today.”