Teaching Parents are the heart of every cottage home at Boys and Girls Country. These amazing, mission-minded staff members give so much of themselves to parent the children who live at BGC and provide them with a safe, stable home. Tom and Emily Alderman have been married 39 years and have five adult children of their own, plus nine grandchildren. They became the Teaching Parents for the Cottage 10 family on August 1, 2016, with eight girls ranging from 7 to 11 years old. Today, Tom and Emily reflected on their experiences after a year at Boys and Girls Country.
Looking back on the last year, tell us what it means to you to be a Teaching Parent.
Tom: When we decided to make this jump, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Looking back, I don’t know why we waited this long. I love this place. After a long business career, I have found myself more fulfilled in this place than I ever have in any business position. When you are in the business of affecting young lives, the wages are twofold. Yes, you get paid for doing your job, but the real pay is seeing the light come on in a young person’s life when they start to realize they can live a better life than where they came from. They can have a real relationship with a real God, who REALLY cares for them.
Emily: I love being a Teaching Parent. It is so exciting to watch the girls realize they are capable of doing anything they set their minds to. We see them change using new habits and see hope and possibility on their faces. They start to know nothing is impossible. It is wonderful to touch a young life and encourage these girls to believe in themselves and dream big dreams.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Tom: Realizing these girls do not come from stable backgrounds, and they need to learn functional living from the very beginning.
Emily: Finding the perfect way to meet each individual child’s needs and the style of teaching that will help them learn each skill the best.
What are some of your favorite memories?
Tom: Because of our donors, I was able to show a future resident that she will never be hungry living here. At the end of her weekend visit before becoming a full-time resident, she ran back to give me a hug and asked to see our very full pantry one more time. While she lives here, she will have three meals a day and snacks. Our blessed donors have made this child feel safe, cared for, and secure that she will not go to sleep hungry again.
Emily: Recently, the girls wrote this card for us and pinned it to our office door. They did not have to. No one told them to. They just did this on their own for us.
How have you seen our Christian mission impact the children?
Emily: There is no greater joy than to be a part of eight girls’ lives who ask to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. These girls pray for each other and desire to learn more about God. My heart is full knowing that above all they learn or we teach, they have received the greatest gift of eternal life. What an honor and privilege to be a part of a Christian organization that encourages Teaching Parents to teach life skills as well as Biblical principles. I am blessed to teach these beautiful girls to grow in their relationship with the Lord.
What do you want volunteers, board members, and possible donors to know about Boys and Girls Country?
Emily: Through all the imperfections, lives are being changed for the better. Day to day we may not see change, but then suddenly a light goes on and the kids realize why we take the time to teach them and how it will benefit them. They see a reason for being here and that they are loved by so many. It is deeper than receiving material things. So much takes place because of how much every person behind the scenes contributes.