Working at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute means embracing a set of five core values: Believe the Mission; See the Possibilities; Focus on We, Not Me; Do the Right Thing; and Have Fun! We had the chance earlier this week to live out all five of those values when we hosted a Christmas party for a group of children and their caregivers from the Southern Christian Children’s Home in Morrilton.
According to SCCH’s website, its founders sought “to care for, keep, train and educate orphan children. One of their goals was to act on the behalf of orphaned, neglected, and dependent children. Southern Christian Home continues to pursue this purpose. Southern Christian Home is licensed by the State of Arkansas as a Residential Childcare Facility. Southern Christian Home intends to serve families by providing a safe place for neglected, abused, and dependent children when they need to be placed out of the parent(s)’ home.
“Southern Christian Home is committed to the belief that children should not be placed unnecessarily out of their home. There does come a point when children may need placement where they can feel safe and have their needs met. These children may also need to learn to have healthy interpersonal relationships with their own families as well as substitute care givers. Southern Christian Home understands those needs may be met in the more structured environment of our residential facilities.”
Human Resources Manager Jennifer Pipes led the group that coordinated the special event here at the Institute. Here’s how she summed it up:
“Special,” she said. “That is the word I've heard employees use to describe Monday night's Christmas experience for kids and families who live at Southern Christian Children's Home in Morrilton. It was indeed a special night. Approximately 30 kids and adults joined us for a memorable night of good food and holiday fellowship. One of my favorite parts of the night was posing in the photo booth for pics with sweet kiddos. Other special parts of the night were when our director of programs, Janet Harris, interacted with the kids to teach them a little bit about Winthrop Rockefeller, and then watching rock-star employees coordinate the entire evening.”
Harris said she spent a few minutes asking the children from SCCH what they knew about Winthrop Rockefeller.
“A few of them knew he was ‘rich because of the oil and stuff,’” she said. “A young man wise beyond his years reminded the group that true wealth ‘came from God,’ which was a good opportunity to talk about how Mr. Rockefeller agreed, and how he reminded his own son (Win Paul Rockefeller) about this in a letter written many years ago. In that letter, Mr. Rockefeller reminded his son that respecting and understanding our neighbors is the key to human happiness, and to peace in the world, and that if we ‘attempt to live and act in terms of human values, then rich or poor, [our] lives will be rewarding.’”
While our guests enjoyed a home-cooked meal, our marketing assistant, Venita Berry, printed photos that had been taken before dinner and framed them to send with the kids as a keepsake.
“To say the kids were thrilled with their gift is an understatement,” Pipes said.
For Berry, who started working at the Institute a couple of months ago, this was her first time to participate in a companywide volunteer project.
“I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering at our ‘give back night,’” Berry said. “I was reminded of how very blessed I am. The children were amazing. I loved watching their faces light up after getting to see the pictures from the photo booth. They were a joy to be around.”
After dinner, the kids were given the opportunity to decorate Christmas cookies and get their picture taken with Santa.
The children seemed to have a great time, and our staff members were genuinely excited to be able to serve and share in the holiday spirit.
“Maybe the best proof of this event’s success is the buzz it has created for next year's plans to entertain our new SCCH friends,” Pipes said.
Winthrop Rockefeller’s legacy is at the heart of our mission. That legacy includes his generosity and his willingness to open up his estate to people beyond just those in his inner circle. That’s how we “Believe the Mission” through this event. We “See the Possibilities” by trying a new idea. We have participated in service projects before, but never anything quite like this. We “Focus on We, Not Me” by considering how to help others. We embraced “Do the Right Thing” by creating a special experience for those who we believed needed one. As for “Have Fun!,” it was hard to tell who enjoyed themselves more on Monday night, our guests or our staff.