Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wesley Center: "Where all children matter"

The Wesley Center, Inc.
Where “all children matter”
By Shelly Burke, Editor

Years ago Dr. Burkhardt, a faithful member of the Methodist church, willed his home (now 120 years old) to be used as a “mission.” Later another pastor received a grant to provide respite care for parents who were overwhelmed by parenting. Today that house is Wesley Center, Inc., in Norfolk, NE, a mission whose core value is that “all children matter.” Wesley Center is a non-profit organization.

The Wesley Center, Inc. Crisis Nursery began in 1995 with a grant to provide relief to parents who felt they might abuse their children. In 1999 the State of Nebraska realized that children who were removed from their homes due to neglect or abuse needed a place to go until foster care could be found, and they contracted with the Wesley Center to care for those kids.

When a child (or children) is removed from his or her home, Wesley Center is notified. (Wesley Center will take children from anywhere in Nebraska, at any time of the day or night.) The child then lives at Wesley Center until he or she can be placed in a foster home or with appropriate relatives (usually less than two weeks). There are usually 1- 3 or 4 children staying at Wesley Center (there is room for up to 16 children), ranging in age from birth to 19 years old. Older teenagers are included so they can stay with younger siblings.

Tracy Olson, Director since 1999, says the biggest misconception about Wesley Center is that it’s “an orphanage, with bare walls and cots just lined up.” Instead, there are six cozy bedrooms upstairs and one downstairs. It’s “home” for the kids, with a regular schedule of meals, playtime, bedtimes, etc. Wesley Center staff members also take children to doctor or other appointments.

Another important service the Wesley Center provides is Respite Care. Foster parents (often caring for several children, some with special needs) who need a break can use the services, which are paid for through a grant from the United Way.

Wesley Center also works with Health and Human Services to provide a location for supervised visitation between parents and children who have been removed from the home. The hope is that these visits will lay the groundwork for families to eventually be reunited, with kids returning to live with their parents.

Wesley Center employs three or four full time employees and eight on-call, part-time people. Three shifts cover round-the-clock care for children.

Tracy says the most rewarding part of working at Wesley Center, for her staff members and herself, is “Interacting with the children. Despite abuse, the kids are loving and just want to play and be kids.” She has had children come back years after they stayed at Wesley Center, to see their old room and staff members who cared for them. She says that occasionally moms will offer gratitude to Wesley Center for caring for their children.

According to Tracy, “It’s hard to see children who are abused and neglected. We know God is angry at the injustice; we pray for wisdom to love and forgive. My faith in God helps keep me strong.” Wesley Center is a safe haven for children who need to feel love and learn about God’s love.

How can You Help? Volunteers are needed; they must undergo rigorous background checks and training.

Tracy says that Wesley Center is a home, so has needs for items every home uses; canned food, frozen meat, paper items like toilet paper and paper towels and so on. Heating bills have been high the last few months so monetary donations are also requested.

Tracy loves to give tours of Wesley Center and will talk with church groups, civil groups, and anyone who is interested in learning more about what they do. For more information or to contact Wesley House, go to http://www.wesleycenterinc.org/ or call (402) 644-4749.

Nebraska Legislature to Debate Breastfeeding Bill

Nebraska Legislature to Debate Breastfeeding Bill
[NFT] Senator Annette Dubas (Fullerton, NE) recently introduced Legislative Bill 197 in an attempt to join Nebraska with the 48 other states that give mothers the legal right to breastfeed their babies in public.

LB197 would uphold a mother’s right to breast-feed “in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.” In previous years breastfeeding mothers have been asked to leave restaurants, outdoor concerts, and parks. One mom, asked to move to a restroom instead, was breastfeeding her baby in an out-of-the way corner of Joslyn Art Museum--next to a statue of a bare-breasted women.

The Centers of Disease Control says that 75% of mothers start out breastfeeding, with about 43% continuing past the baby’s six-month birthday. Breastfeeding provides many health benefits for the baby, including boosting their immune system (breastfeeding babies have a lower incidence of ear, respiratory tract, and urinary infections) and decreasing the risk of developing asthma. New mother who breastfeed often return to pre-pregnancy weight faster and breastfeeding also reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancers.

LB 197, if passed, would provide breast-feeding mothers legal backing for doing so.

March Editor's Letter

NFT Editor’s Letter March 2011

Spring is in the air! Yesterday I saw a robin AND a bluebird, and the temperature is supposed to get up to 70 today! I’m enjoying every moment of it. We’ve been having baby calves and last weekend Morgan rode her horse, Maggie, for the first time this year. The trees are still bare and the ground is brown, but I know soon there will be green everywhere.

I love to watch Nebraska sunrises this time of year. The clouds and colors change constantly during the half hour or so before the sun rises. It’s amazing to see the beauty that God has given us to enjoy!

I have always been awed by how I can use the wise words of the Bible, written thousands of years ago, to guide my life today. I’ve been studying United States history and I’ve been amazed at how the words of the Founding Fathers also apply to our lives, and issues in our country, today. To that end there will be a new feature in the paper, called “Wise Words then and Now,” which will feature quotes from the Founding Fathers. I think you’ll enjoy what they had to say—the more I learn about United States history the more I want to learn!

I hope you enjoy this issue of the Nebraska Family Times. Every month I pray that the articles will “inspire, encourage, and motivate” readers on their Christian walk. I’ve been printing articles from some new authors and sources, and I hope you enjoy them. If you have any comments about or suggestions for articles or issues to cover, please let me know! Several readers have sent me links that have led to articles I would not have otherwise known about—THANK YOU!

If you enjoy the Nebraska Family Times, please share it with others. You can request up to 5 free copies to share; just e-mail me at shelly@shellyburke.net or call (402) 993-2467. My goal this year is to spread the word about the Nebraska Family Times to people throughout the state of Nebraska.

God bless you and your family as you enjoy spring!

Does God Ever get Tired of Hearing Our Prayers?

Do you ever wonder if God gets tired of hearing your prayers? Sometimes I do. It seems that there are prayers I pray over and over and over, day after day after day.

On Sunday our worship team sang a song that really touched my heart. It's called "He Never Sleeps" and here's the link to it, on You Tube. I hope the message speaks to you as it spoke to me.


Another Sad Day

Several days ago the private duty patient with whom I'd worked for several years, became sick and died.

Today, while I was at her visitation, I found out that another patient of mind had died. I'd supervised Josh's care for several years; he depended on the care of his parents and aides after a very rare progressive brain disease left him unable to care for himself.

I will never forget the first day I walked into Josh's home. I introduced myself to Josh and his parents, and his mother said that it seemed like she knew me from somewhere. We talked about the various organizations and groups we belonged to, but there were none that we both belonged to. I got to know Josh, did my nursing assessment, and made arrangements to visit again in two weeks.

The next few times I visited Josh, his mom and I continued to try to figure out where we had met, discussing extended family (we both have small families), past jobs, and so on. We still couldn't figure it where we could have met before.

Then one day when I walked into their home, Josh's mom immediately pointed at me and said, "You're Shelly Geil!" (Geil was my maiden name.) Since I had been a "Burke" for almost 20 years, I was very surprised to find she knew my maiden name! But something I had said on my previous visit had jogged a memory in her mind, and she realized that my dad had been the principal at the Lutheran grade school in Battle Creek, NE, where she'd taught many years before. She had even been at my 5th birthday party!

After that I felt a special bond with Josh and his parents. When I received an e-mail that Josh was in the hospital, I visited, and he appeared to be doing much better. He'd given everyone a scare, but we thought he'd be home soon. Instead, his condition became worse and he went to his heavenly home. In her e-mail to friends and family, Josh's mom wrote, "The victory has been won. Josh went to heaven this afternoon."

I will never forget either of my patients, who, for a reason unknown to us, died within just a few days of each other. Both of the families taught me so much about life, love, and God's love...

I am blessed to have been able to work with them.