Meet the Harrisons and the McGehees, Palmer Home Houseparents

January 29, 2021

Meet the Harrisons and the McGehees, Palmer Home Houseparents

Palmer Home is seeking houseparents for our Hernando campus! Houseparents care for a cottage of eight to 10 children, supporting each child’s educational, emotional, physical and spiritual needs. To help you learn more about the role and the amazing houseparents on our team, we wanted to introduce you to two families, the Harrisons and the McGehees.

Meet Amber and Matt Harrison

While teaching at Tunica Academy, Amber Harrison had the privilege of meeting students from Palmer Home and forming relationships with some of their houseparents. Matt and Amber’s own children played sports and participated in activities with the kids from Palmer Home. This allowed them to get closer to the organization and the families on campus.

In 2017, the Harrisons volunteered to cover a cottage while the houseparents welcomed a new baby to their family. Matt and Amber, along with their four biological children, moved onto campus. At the time, they thought would only be six weeks. To their surprise, they fell in love with the Palmer Home family and never left.

Nearly four years later, the Harrisons talk of that time as a perfect example of God’s timing. They always considered fostering children but never had the room in their home. They know now that God had much bigger plans for them.

Fulfilling God’s Plan

All of the children in the Harrison household involved in sports and other activities. And, with a little one in their cottage, Matt and Amber are always on the move. At least one of them is at every game and every school event to show their support for their children. When they aren’t following their teenagers around the world, they prioritize family time by sitting down for dinner together regularly.

The best part of their job, according to the Harrisons, is watching the children they care for grow and thrive at Palmer Home and beyond. They have watched their boys win state championships, teenagers graduate from high school and young men join the military. Their favorite moments, however, are seeing their kids heal and grow in their relationship with Christ.

Matt and Amber believe forming relationships with the children that come to Palmer Home is the most important role in their jobs. They make a point to establish unity and a sense of belonging when a new child comes into their care.

When they aren’t working, the Harrisons use their time to rest and check-in with their biological children. Their children are just as involved in the mission of Palmer Home as Matt and Amber themselves. The Harrison family uses their relief time to strengthen their relationship with each other to ensure a safe and loving family for the children they welcome into their home.

Meet the McGehees

Ryan and Natalie McGehee cared for numerous foster and adopted children for ten years before finding their way to Palmer Home last May. After friends who worked as houseparents persistently encouraged the McGehees to move their ministry to Palmer Home, the family finally decided it was time to say “yes.”

Although they joined the team in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the McGehees stepped into the role without missing a beat.

Most days for the McGehees include shuffling kids around, taking care of housework and handling business work. However, each day the family takes time to build relationships. At family dinner each night, the McGehees encourage their kiddos to talk about the highs, lows, and buffalo. They describe buffalo as anything and everything you want to tell. Each meal ends with a devotional reading before the kids break off into their nighttime routines.

The McGehees function as a tight-knit family unit, but they make a point to care for each child on an individual level.

“The kids bring their own life experiences and realities with them when they come. None of them chose to be a part of our family,” says Natalie.

Being Intentional For Each Child

The McGehees find time to listen to each child’s needs, wants and feelings. They incorporate those into their family life. Sometimes, this happens in the form of a favorite meal, a game they played with their family, or even a special smell to remind them of home. One of their kiddos remembers his biological family best and feels most comfortable when he smells cinnamon. Because of that, you may smell a little spice if you visit Carlisle cottage, where they live.

When asked what advice they would give others in their profession, the McGehees suggest practicing intentional self-care.

“We have a tendency to absorb the trauma the kids have experienced, and this leads to burn out so quickly,” says Natalie.

To avoid this, the family carves out time to check in with each other and encourage a spirit of willingness and flexibility among one another.

In their spare time, Ryan loves playing a round of golf, while Natalie prefers to sit back with a good book. They also love spending time with their four biological children and grandson.

Join the team!

If serving as houseparents may be of interest to your family, or if you know a family who may be a good fit, we encourage you to learn more about the role and competitive benefits. Visit our careers page here.

We are so grateful for the Harrisons, McGehees, and all our dedicated staff. As well as supporters like you, who help make Palmer Home a place where children can heal, grow and thrive.

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